When you're involved in a trucking accident, you likely have two entities to deal: the operator's (driver's) insurance and the operator's employer (the company that hired the driver). Making sure that both entities are held accountable can be the key to recouping a maximum settlement.
Here's a quick guide to help you deal with the insurance companies after a trucking accident.
Operator's Insurance Company
When you're dealing with the driver's insurance company, it's key to view them as an independent entity (separate from the company that employs/(ed) them.
Priors: Even though a driver may have worked for many companies during their truck driving careers, that doesn't mean that their driving history doesn't follow them. Gathering information about the operator's driving history, both professionally and personally, can be critical when seeking a maximum settlement. Evidence of egregious and reckless moving violations like speeding or driving under the influence can demonstrate a pattern of recidivism that can prove that the operator's danger before your paths ever crossed. Juries will find this evidence very convincing and insurance companies will often jump to settlements when presented with these types of settlements.
Seek Separate Settlements: Many times the operator's employer will hire a lawyer to represent them in court; the driver will then sometimes retain the same lawyer to represent them individually. The lawyer will then attempt to negotiate a joint settlement. Although this may seem like killing two birds with one stone, you are far more likely to maximize your settlement if you negotiate separate claims. This can take more time to complete (and incur more legal fee), but it's important to remember that most reputable truck driving accident attorneys don't get paid until you do.
Civil Suit: If an operator commits a serious crime during an accident, they are likely to end up in court to face criminal charges. If found guilty, these criminal charges may put the driver behind bars and might award victims some form of compensation. If the driver in the accident falls into this description, you shouldn't consider this the final legal word. You can and should also file a civil suit to seek additional damages.
Go After the Insurer: Even if the operator involved in the accident doesn't have the funds to pay a settlement doesn't mean that their insurance company lacks the resources. Hire a lawyer who's willing to take on the insurers, who often lawyer-up to protect them in court and discourage individuals from rejecting their low settlement offers.
Operator's Employer's Insurance Company
Whenever you have two possessive nouns, you know that you're dealing with a complicated situation. Although an operator's employer may seem removed from an accident, they can still be liable for their employee's negligence.
Timeline: Since you should already have obtained a detailed record of the driver's driving history, you can then create a timeline that can implicate a company for employing a dangerous driver. For instance, if they hired the employee despite their poor driving record, this can be very damaging in court. Similarly, if they continued to hire an employee after they committed a serious driving offense, they can be found guilty of keeping a dangerous driver on the roads.
Keep Records: Communicating with your lawyer, the operator's employer, and the operator's employer's insurance company can be confusing. Insist on being included in all serious communications. This can be as simple as being CC-ed on an email or having important files held for you by your lawyer.
Semi-trucks are deadly weapons that can destroy lives if wielded by dangerous drivers. If you're involved in a trucking accident, it's important to remember that both employee and employer are liable for damages you sustain during an accident. For more information, contact a firm such as James Munafo & Associates PC.