The Role of Insurance Companies in Truck Accident Cases in Florida
Insurance coverage is an important aspect of any personal injury case. The process of dealing with insurance adjusters can be complicated. This level of complication can be magnified for a number of reasons in truck accident cases. Understanding Florida’s no-fault insurance system, as well as the role of insurance companies in such matters, is important to ensuring that you receive the amount of compensation which you deserve.
Florida is a No-Fault Insurance State
Florida is one of a handful of states in the US which employs a “no-fault” insurance system. Under this system, all vehicle insurance policies must include a personal injury protection (PIP) provision and drivers must file a claim against their own PIP coverage before making a claim against a defendant. If a victim’s damages are less than the amount covered by their PIP coverage then the matter will be resolved. If their damages are in excess of what is covered by PIP (typically $10,000) then they may make a claim against the defendant’s insurance. It must be noted that PIP coverage does not offer compensation for pain and suffering and it only pays a percentage of medical bills and lost wages.
Truck Accident Victims May Have To Deal With Multiple Insurance Carriers
An accident victim will have to deal with the defendant driver’s insurance in the typical car accident case. This is straightforward since such cases only involve one defendant – the other driver. Truck accidents, by contrast, can involve multiple defendants. This can involve the driver of the truck, their employer, the owner of the truck (if different than the employer), and other potential third-parties. While the driver of the truck and their employer will typically be covered by one insurance policy, other defendants will often have their own insurer. This can mean having to deal with adjusters from multiple insurance companies.
Consider the following example. Joe Driver is hit by Jack the truck driver. Jack is employed by a management company that was retained by the truck’s owner. It is determined that the accident was partially caused by a weight imbalance which stemmed from a third-party loading company improperly placing cargo on the truck. It is also shown that Jack, the truck driver, was under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident. Under this scenario, each of these parties may face liability. This could mean having to deal with one insurance adjuster for Jack and his employer, another for the owner of the truck, and another for the loading company.
Insurance Adjusters Will Often Contact You Immediately Following An Accident
It is common for insurance adjusters to contact accident victims and their families immediately after a wreck. These adjusters will often claim that you should deal with them directly and that retaining an attorney will not increase your eventual settlement. You must remember, however, that these adjusters work for the insurance company. Their goal is to protect their employer’s bottom line and it is not to ensure that you receive the money that you are entitled to. It is common for insurance adjusters to initially deny liability altogether, only to agree to a settlement once an attorney becomes involved. By retaining counsel you ensure that someone is looking out for your interests as opposed to the interests of an insurance company. This is why it is recommended that you retain an attorney and allow them to deal with the insurance adjusters directly.
Your Attorney and the Insurance Company Will Engage In Settlement Negotiations
Once you have retained an attorney, counsel will inform the insurance company about the representation. The insurer will then deal with your counsel directly. Once your long-term prognosis for recovery and damages can be reasonably ascertained, your attorney will send a demand for payment to the insurance company. This demand will include the amount you are requesting as a settlement, your basis for determining that amount, as well as documentation (such as medical bills) which support your request. Your attorney and the insurance company will then engage in back and forth settlement negotiations. If a settlement is reached then your case will be concluded. If an agreement is not reached then your case will proceed to litigation.
It is important to understand that settlement negotiations do not stop after a lawsuit has been filed. Your attorney will continue to try to reach a settlement while they are actively litigating the case. A difference is that, at this stage of the matter, they will primarily negotiate with the insurance company’s defense lawyers as opposed to the adjuster assigned to the matter. Any final decisions regarding settlement will still be made through the adjuster, however, and will simply be relayed through defense counsel. If you and your attorneys attend a settlement conference during the litigation, it is likely that the insurance adjuster will attend in addition to the insurance company’s defense lawyers.
Your Case Will Likely Be Concluded Through a Settlement
Very few personal injury cases go to trial. This is also true for truck accidents. Unless there is a very clear dispute over liability, the amount of your damages, or whether your injuries were caused by the wreck, your case will likely settle without seeing the inside of a courtroom. Given that all settlements must be approved by the defendant’s insurance carriers, their role in such matters is highly important.
Contact a Florida Truck Accident Attorney as Opposed To Dealing With the Insurance Adjusters Directly
As discussed above, if you have been in a truck accident then you can expect the defendant’s insurance adjusters to contact you almost immediately after the accident. It is strongly suggested that you inform them that you will be retaining a lawyer and that you do not deal with them directly. Our firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals over those of insurance companies. We take pride in providing a high level of representation and we look forward to being of assistance. Contact us online or by telephone at 800-780-8607 to speak with a Florida truck accident attorney.