How Commercial Truck and 18-Wheeler Insurance Policies Work
You've just been in an accident with a commercial truck. You have a stack of medical bills. You can't work, the bills keep rolling in, and now you have to fight an insurance company. When the stakes are this high, knowledge is your best weapon. In our 25 years of winning commercial truck accident cases, not just in Dallas, but throughout Texas, we've learned just about all there is to know about how commercial truck insurance law works.
Now your first thought might be that, because it was the trucking company's driver who injured you, they're also the ones who have to pay you. Unfortunately, because all trucking companies are required to have insurance for situations like yours, there's another company between you and them: their insurer. The way that the insurance company sees it, they work for the trucking company, not you. They consider the money their client is insured for to be their money and they're not going to give you their money without a fight. That's where an experienced lawyer makes the difference. We know that it's your money, because you are the one who has been injured.
As we said before, knowledge is your best weapon against commercial insurance companies and the following are some things you need to know to help take the fear out of taking them on.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- How much insurance are trucks required to have?
- How does the claims filing process work?
- What role do adjusters play in the commercial insurance claims process?
- How do I successfully pursue my claim against a commercial insurance company?
Federal and State Insurance Requirements for Commercial Vehicles
The federal government requires trucking companies to have $750,000 dollars in coverage for each vehicle in their fleet, while the state of Texas mandates an additional $250,000, for a total of $1,000,000. These levels are the minimum insurance that an operator must have. However, sometimes trucking companies are more heavily insured under expanded liability policies, which means the insurance company has more money on the line and whenever that's the case, the resistance that the companies involved put up is likely to increase as well.
There are a couple of other types of commercial vehicle insurance policies that you should be aware of. The first is a self-insured retention policy. These policies are common in Texas, as they allow the trucking company to assume the risk for the $250,000 dollars of coverage that is required by the state, beyond the $750,000 the federal government already requires. What this means for you is that, if your claim is for less than $250,000 dollars, instead of dealing with an insurance company, you might find yourself trying to settle your dispute with the human resources department of a trucking company.
The other class of policies that you should know about are eroding policies. These policies permit the trucking company to count the costs of defending the lawsuit against the policy pay-out. In these cases, a $1,000,000 policy might only be worth $800,000 to you, the victim, after deducting the trucking companies attorney's fees. Eroding policies definitely factor into the strategy your lawyer adopts to maximize the amount of compensation you receive.
The Claims Process in Commercial Vehicle Cases
The claims process in commercial cases is similar to that of a non-commercial case, with the big exception that there is a lot more money potentially on the line. This gives the commercial insurer a much bigger incentive to fight you every step of the way.
The reason for this is that if a company accepts liability early on, even when it appears your injuries are minor, they expose themselves to the risk of your injuries worsening over time, increasing your damages and the money they owe you. For this reason it is very unlikely that an insurance company will accept liability, unless it's on their terms.
Remember, even though insurance money is there to pay for the damages that you've suffered, insurance companies still think it's their money. Even if you have hired the best lawyer, it's important to know how to interact with insurance companies and their adjusters.
In commercial cases, the adjuster is there to minimize your claim every step of the way. They do this by scrutinizing every scrap of information you give them, trying to shift as much blame as possible on to you, to minimize your pay out.
Insurance companies and adjusters know how to get evidence into a court room; most non-attorneys don't. For example, you can't just hand your medical bills to the judge in a court case. They have to be verified and meet the evidentiary standards of the court. When you send an adjuster a copy of your medical bills that doesn't meet the standards of evidence, they know that if they were to take you to court, you don't know how to get evidence admitted, and will deal with you accordingly.
The first step in standing up to them and the insurance company in general is to know what they're trying to accomplish: making your payout as small as possible.
How To Successfully Prove Your Commercial Vehicle Accident Claim
The first thing to understand about your claim is that the insurance company wants to pay you as little as legally possible. They're not your friend; they're looking out for themselves. The sooner you understand this fact, the better your claim's chances of success.
In order to prove your claim, you have to provide adequately verified evidence, not only of your injuries, but also that the trucking company should be held liable for causing the wreck in which you were hurt. The only adequate way of acquiring that evidence - and making sure it's admissible in court - is by hiring a truck accident lawyer who can launch a thorough independent investigation into the collision.
The trucking company or its insurance provider will have nearly unlimited opportunity to tamper with evidence at the scene of the accident if you do not have legal representation. You would hope, of course, that that would not happen, but it has happened in far too many instances to discount the possibility. By having a semi-truck accident attorney on your side conducting an investigation on your behalf, however, you can make sure the "other side" is playing by the rules.
The fact that the scene of an accident can also undergo rapid change due to road construction, weather conditions and other factors, is even more of a reason to call a Texas semi-truck accident attorney as soon as you can so that he or she can immediately get to work gathering the evidence you need.
Without a skilled, thorough semi-truck accident lawyer, the trucking company or its insurance provider will most likely dig in their heels and refuse to pay you anything approaching what you deserve. If you cannot provide the evidence you need to convince them otherwise, you could find yourself facing the very real risk of getting nothing for the suffering you have been forced to endure.
Dealing with commercial insurance companies is not a game. Your life has already been turned upside down by a commercial truck accident. Without proper legal representation and a solid knowledge of how the law works, there is a chance you will not get everything that you are owed under the law. We recommend only communicating with insurance companies through competent legal representation. This includes matters like getting a truck driver's insurance information. As soon as the accident occurs, insurance companies begin looking for ways not to pay you. It is imperative to have someone looking out for your interests in a commercial insurance claim, because insurance companies will have plenty of people looking out for theirs.
In short, you can tell from the above that, even if insurance companies are supposed to pay you, they won't unless you force them to. Questions like, "What insurance money does the trucking company have?" or "Can my family get an insurance payout after a truck accident?" can be answered by calling our toll-free number (855) 326-0000 now.
You might also be interested in:
- What are the first things to do after an 18-wheeler accident?
- How do you prove liability in a commercial vehicle accident?
- 5 ways to ruin your case (Don't ever do these).