What you should know about the 18-wheeler's insurance company.
Most people have some form of insurance, whether it's for their car, boat, apartment, or home. We pay premiums, and we expect that when we need them to cover our losses, insurers will pay. Perhaps you have had a decent experience with an insurance company when you got in a small car accident, or when something went wrong in your home. You likely you have heard of a friend or family member's negative experience with an insurer.
But insurance companies that back trucking outfits are a totally different animal. In this article, we'll discuss why that is and what you need to be afraid of. For more on insurance and 18-wheeler accidents in general, be sure to read our Explaining the Basics on Insurance here. But if you've ever asked yourself the following questions, you're in the right place:
- Will the trucking company pay me?
- Will the 18-wheeler driver's insurance pay me?
- What can I expect from the insurance?
Why trucking companies have insurance
Trucking companies know that accidents like yours are quite possible. On a daily basis, trucking companies send out multi-ton machines to travel long distances at all hours of the day or night, in all conditions, driven by drivers they may or may not know are safe. These vessels are loaded down with cargo that must be apportioned properly or the truck could be unwieldy. They also know that trucks are extremely complicated machines themselves that must be expertly constructed and maintained in order to keep them roadworthy. At any point in the process--from the truck's manufacturing, maintenance, loading, or driving--something bad can happen. They also know that, under Texas law, they will be held responsible when it does. Trucking is a very competitive industry, and its companies operate with tight profit margins. They cannot afford to risk having to pay out huge sums to accident victims.
This is why they buy insurance. They pay enormous sums every year to major insurance carriers to protect themselves from liability for negligent drivers, negligent manufacturing and maintenance of the truck, and negligent cargo loading. In most cases, when a claim like yours gets filed, the matter is outside of the trucking company's hands and now driven by the insurer.
The 18-wheeler's insurance is supposed to pay, but doesn't want to
In a perfect world, the insurance company would simply pay you for what you lost. But that's not what happens. After an accident, the trucking company's insurance providers spring into action. Their investigators and attorneys get to the accident scene as soon as possible to make their own assessments of what has happened. They try to get to the driver first, and the want to inspect the truck before you or your lawyers can. And while certainly not commonplace, there have been incidents of alleged evidence destruction on the carrier's watch.
In minor accidents, insurance companies might try to cheap out by getting their greenest claims adjusters and youngest, most inexperienced lawyers involved. But when truck accidents happen, insurance companies employ the most highly-trained, aggressive claims adjusters and attorneys in the business. These people are pros, and they are good at doing one thing: getting you to sign a release of your claims in exchange for shockingly less money than you deserve.
This comes as a shock to decent people. You have been in a major accident and even perhaps lost a loved one. Under any normal business or interpersonal relationship, you could expect people to do the right thing and pay you what you deserve. This is not how insurance companies work.
How will the insurance company act?
Right now, you are a target. They will call you and tell you how sorry they are about your loss, and that they will do "whatever you need" to make this right. The claims adjuster may be a pleasant-sounding person who seemingly exudes compassion and concern for you and your family. But make no mistake: the person on the other end of the phone is a hired gun who is paid to get you the least amount of money possible. Don't give in the the cajoling, the pressure, or the scare tactics.
Insurance companies deal with tragedy all the time, and for them, it's their livelihood. In fact, insurance companies--many of which received government bailouts during the Great Recession--are supremely profitable in what they do. For them, every dollar they do not have to pay you goes straight to their bottom lines. These are businesses that exist to make their shareholders money, nothing more. Despite their legal and contractual obligations to pay, and regardless of what the pleasant claims adjuster tells you, they do not have any business interest in giving you what you deserve.
From now on, we encourage you to view the insurance company as what they are: an adversary.
What to do now
The claims adjuster will want two things from you. One, a statement about what happened, who was injured, how you were injured, and what you want. Two, they want your signature on a release in exchange for either a pittance of what you need, or for free.
Give no statements to the insurance company. We know that you only want to explain what really happened. We want to give you that opportunity. But you want to do it on your own terms, at the time of your choosing. The claims adjuster will ask you questions intended to shape the story as benefits them, not you. These statements, just like in criminal cases, most certainly can and will be used against you. Do not make any statements.
Sign absolutely nothing. Until you have spoken with an experienced Texas truck accident lawyer, do not, under any circumstances, sign an agreement or waiver with the insurance company. They may be offering you money, money that you may well need very badly, but you have a future to think about. The money for your accident needs to last, and the only way to extract that kind of compensation from an insurance company is to hire a lawyer.
Need more information on how this process works? Be sure to click on our main page explaining how these cases work here, as well as a primer on the tricks adjuster try to play on 18-wheeler accident victims.
Call us as soon as possible at (855) 326-000 (toll free). We can make the calls from the insurance company stop, and we can fight them hard for you. Let us worry about the giant insurer--we have the strong track record of success in helping people just like you. Don't waste your one opportunity to get what you and your loved ones need and deserve.