If you or someone you love has been involved in a trucking accident, you understand first-hand the devastation it can cause. Trucking accidents, especially those involving a wrongful death, are traumatic experiences with far-reaching consequences.
In California – especially the bustling Central Valley – trucking accidents are unfortunately common. What’s worse, the insurance claims process can be a labyrinth of complexities. It’s critical to get the help of legal counsel to navigate the aftermath and get you damages for your losses, whether you suffered a personal injury or someone close to you lost their life in a crash.
What Is the Insurance Claims Process After a Trucking Accident?
Because trucks outsize other vehicles so dramatically, trucking accidents often cause other drivers and motorists to experience severe injuries or, in tragic cases, wrongful death. If these accidents are caused by negligence, you could hold the trucking company liable.
When you file a legal claim after a trucking accident, you can recover financial compensation (called damages) for your medical expenses, property damage to your car, any lost wages from having to take time off work, and your pain and suffering.
However, the insurance claims process can become notoriously complicated after a truck accident. This can happen because these types of cases often involve:
- Multiple Parties and Insurance Policies – In a typical trucking accident, you could have the truck driver, the trucking company, and potentially other third parties involved, such as maintenance or trucking parts companies. Each of these entities may have their own insurance policies and they may all be at varying levels of fault, leading to a web of overlapping coverages and potential disputes over liability.
- High Stakes and Policy Limits – Trucking companies are legally required to carry substantial insurance coverage because of the inherent risks of operating large commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers. While this is designed to protect victims, it can also complicate the process. In cases of severe injury or wrongful death, damages can easily exceed these high policy limits. For families seeking full compensation for their losses, this can present a challenge.
- Complex Investigations – Trucking accidents often require extensive investigations to accurately determine liability. These investigations may include examining the truck’s maintenance records, the driver’s logbooks, the truck’s black box data, and more. The thoroughness of these investigations can create delays in the claims process.
- Determining Fault and Vicarious Liability – Establishing fault can be a contentious issue in trucking accidents. The trucking company could argue that the driver is solely responsible as an independent contractor. But employers can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees, including trucking companies and their drivers.
- Disputes Over Damages – Determining the true extent of your damages can be challenging in the aftermath of a trucking accident, especially in cases involving wrongful death, where the emotional and financial toll on the victim’s family is substantial. Insurance companies tend to minimize or dispute the extent of your damages because they would rather not pay, leading to prolonged negotiations and potential lawsuits.
- Evolving Trucking Regulations – The trucking industry is subject to a number of federal and California state regulations that can impact insurance claims. Successfully navigating this evolving legal landscape requires a deep understanding of these rules and how they relate to the specific circumstances of your accident.
- Complex Legal Issues – Trucking accident cases can involve complex legal issues, particularly when it comes to vicarious liability, overlapping insurance coverage, claims that exceed policy limits, and laws and regulations such as hours of service rules. You need strong legal expertise to protect your best interests at all points of your case, especially when dealing with insurance companies that have teams of adjusters and lawyers working to try to minimize or deny your claims.
Trucking incidents are often multi-faceted with high stakes, disputes over liability, and intricacies in the legal and regulatory landscape. But as a survivor, you do not have to be overwhelmed by these complications. A truck accident lawyer who has experience navigating these complex cases can help simplify the process and get you a proper settlement.
Can Truck Accident Settlements Exceed Policy Limits?
Because truck accidents can be so severe, the cost to victims and their families can exceed the insurance policy limits that apply to their case. If this happens, it’s crucial for your attorney to explore all the possible avenues for getting the compensation you deserve.
In many trucking accidents, especially those resulting in severe injuries, TBI, or wrongful death, the damages can be extensive. Medical bills, long-term care, property damage, loss of income, and your personal pain and emotional suffering can accumulate into substantial financial burdens not just now but for years or decades to come.
Even though trucking companies are legally required to keep significant insurance coverage, these high policy limits may not even be enough, leaving victims under-compensated. When your damages surpass insurance policy limits, how can you make sure you’re still covered?
- Multiple Liability Levels – When truck accidents involve multiple people who share varying levels of liability, such as the truck driver, the trucking company, maintenance providers, or manufacturers, your lawyer can help you split liability and determine which insurance policies should cover which portion of your damages. Maximizing your recovery often involves skillfully navigating this complex network of coverage.
- Under or Uninsured Motorist Coverage – Your own auto insurance policy may step in to provide you with additional compensation when the at-fault party’s insurance coverage isn’t enough. This can be a valuable resource for survivors.
- Legal Action and Lawsuits – When an insurance settlement isn’t enough to cover all of your damages, truck accident victims may choose to file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties. This may be against the truck driver, the trucking company, other liable parties, or a combination. In lawsuits, courts can award compensation beyond insurance policy limits if they determine that the at-fault parties are responsible for the excess damages.
Even though truck accident cases are often complicated, they don’t have to feel that way to you. A capable lawyer can assess your case, identify the potential sources of compensation, and pursue the most favorite settlement for you, even when damages go over policy limits.
At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, we can help. Contact us now to get started with your free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis so you don’t pay us unless you win.