trucking law firm

"You Don't Need an Attorney for Your Car Crash Injury Claim"

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For personal injury attorneys in California who practice exclusively injury law, it is only a matter of time before they take a case where the client was told at one point by someone at an insurance company that they didn't need an attorney to help them. The longer injury lawyers practice, the more frequent this story becomes. Clients are told shortly after their car accident by the other driver's insurance company that they "don't need a lawyer for this kind of claim." Because this advice has drastic consequences, a brief look as to why an employee of an insurance company, especially an injury claim adjuster, would say this is worth looking into.

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What Do Insurance Adjusters Do?

Insurance adjusters evaluate claims and, if necessary, offer money to settle the claim. What does "settlement" entail? It basically means that in exchange for money, the claimant will not sue the insurance company's insured in a court of law. This all happens before any lawsuit is filed against the person who caused a crash. Insurance adjusters are therefore middlemen that are supposed to protect the interests of their insured. The more claims an adjuster can settle or close, the better they are at their job in the eyes of their bosses, and they are often compensated accordingly. In short, if an insurance adjuster can get you to settle your claim, they win, and personally it is good for their careers.

What Exactly Does "Evaluate Claims" Mean?

Insurance adjusters evaluate claims. Basically this means they investigate what the claimant is saying in comparison to what their insured says. However, their evaluation is not objective, whereas a jury evaluation of a case is supposed to be objective. If the insurance adjuster's client/insured says they didn't cause the accident, the insurance adjuster will stick by their client, regardless of what the facts say. This means they can deny your claim, even though there's a lot of evidence to show that their guy is at fault. So even though they are tasked with evaluating the claim and trying to get the claimant to go away, their view favors the interests of their company.

Why Don't Adjusters Want Me to Speak With an Attorney?

First, remember that insurance adjusters are expected to move files off their desks. The quicker they can get rid of your file, the sooner they can move on to the next file, and so on. The involvement of an attorney does not necessarily mean your claim will go unsettled longer, but it most certainly means that when your claim settles, it will be for more money. Injury attorneys specialize in getting their clients money, plain and simple. The money comes from the at fault party's insurance company. In short, if an attorney is involved, the insurance company is going to have to pay more money to make the claim go away. This is bad for the individual insurance adjuster's performance metrics.

Insurance adjusters also handle so many car crash cases that they become accustomed to getting their way with plaintiffs who are not represented by an injury lawyer. They get used to having the upper hand in the negotiation, and they are used to getting their way. They also know that the tables turn when an injury law firm is involved, as an experienced injury lawyer will know far more about the law, case results, and how the courts actually work.

The Insurance Company says ________________. Is this true?

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Insurance adjusters are not bad people, but they do have often have a narrow perspective as to how an injury case might play out if an attorney is involved. Again, they settle so many cases for pennies on the dollar that they don't realize a case they settle for $500 may be worth $15,000 or $50,000 if an attorney is involved. They view themselves at injury authorities, even though they are not trained in the law, and don't know what happens to cases that they don't settle that end up in litigation and going to trial. Insurance adjusters therefore often try to coach claimants as to how the process works, even though their approach is heavily favorable to the insurance company's bottom line, and geared towards low settlement.

"My Adjuster is Very Friendly. I Don't Want to Cause Problems for Anyone."

Friendliness is a proven negotiating tactic that is taught to insurance adjusters in most insurance companies. Hint: if you've seen a commercial on television for an insurance company, you can rest assured the adjusters for those companies have all been trained how to present themselves in a friendly manner during negotiations with claimants. Also, remember that none of this is personal. You will never meet the insurance adjuster, and even in the event that your case requires a lawsuit be filed, you will probably never see the individual who injured you again. The insurance policy is there to protect you in the event of injury, and so when you are injured by someone else's careless or reckless driving, the law has provided a way for you to recover, physically and financially. 

If you pursue your claim, it is extremely unlikely that the actual individual who hit you will know or care how much their insurance company settles for. For example, an auto insurance policy for $50,000 covers your injuries up to that amount. Whether you settle for $500 or $50,000, it does not affect the person who injured you personally, as the money comes from the insurance agency. This is why we pay insurance premiums. Every month, every California driver pays money to be insured. In return, if they cause an accident and hurt someone, that money is used to protect the negligent person. Thus, your efforts to get a fair settlement and have your medical bills and pain and suffering paid for have nothing to do with the individual who hit you, but become the responsibility of the insurance company to resolve.

Isn't All This Overly Skeptical of Insurance Companies?

The more injury claims an attorney sees, the more aware he or she is of the many ways in which insurance adjusters are able to convince injured people to do things that will ultimately result in the claimant receiving less money. Insurance companies are insanely profitable, as evidenced by their high profile advertising campaigns, the stadiums their brands are on, and their pervasive presence in advertising culture. Insurance companies spend billions of dollars every year in advertising, and in return, they earn billions of dollars in profits. If you are injured and want to get your medical bills paid for, that is why the insurance policy exists, and why California law requires drivers to have insurance. Insurance companies employ good people, and are not necessarily corrupt, but they do have a bias, and that is to settle all claims for as little money as possible, as this is how they stay profitable.

If You Are Injured

California law provides for full recovery if you were injured, meaning you should be in the same position you were after the car accident or other injury-causing accident as you were before the accident. If your injury is long-lasting, catastrophic, or permanent, this may not be possible. Still, the law makes sure the negligent/at fault person is responsible for making you whole, so if you can't be put back together, you are owed money for pain and suffering. The Lions Injury Lawyers are passionate about getting fair value for injury claims. They fight endlessly to recover as much money as possible for their clients, which will cover all medical expenses and also include money for pain and suffering, lost wages from time off work, and money for other incidental and inconvenient or painful lifestyle changes. The Lions Injury Lawyers spend 100% of their time practicing injury law, and are exclusively dedicated to personal injury clients. Speak with an actual injury attorney today to make sure you're not being taken advantage of as you seek to settle your claim.

Car Accidents Involving Large Trucks: What You Should Know

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It's no surprise that the large semi trucks that carry much of the food we eat and the products we use throughout the country can cause serious safety threats to other drivers on the road. After all, most of these trucks weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds, and are nowhere near as agile and maneuverable as a common automobile. California highways are sometimes choked with trucks, which is due to the large population of California, as well as the several shipping ports, where the trucks receive their loads from abroad for distribution in California and throughout the country. If you're driving on California highways, there are a few safety tips you should be aware of in order to stay safe.

Remembering Elementary School Science: Inertia

Remember learning about objects in motion staying in motion until another force acts upon it to slow it down? A large truck will stay in motion unless the driver tries to slow it down. This is all common sense. The catch is, even when the driver of the truck tries to stop the truck's intertia, depending on how big and heavy the truck is, it can take a very long time to slow a moving truck. Now consider how fast trucks travel on California freeways - usually at least 60-70 miles per hour. Going this speed, it can take a great distance for a typical 18 wheeler carrying a normal load to slow. Now recall how often you see passenger vehicles, like your standard car or SUV, dart in and out of traffic. Large trucks cannot stop in time to avoid contact, it is as simple as that.

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Driver Fatigue and the Laws Regulating Trucker Drive Hours

Truck drivers make their living by carrying loads from point A to point B. The more distance they travel, the more money they make. There are regulations in place to keep truck drivers from getting too tired and drowsy to drive, but the reality is that truck drivers get tired and occasionally doze off or fall asleep at the wheel, often times causing collisions with other cars. The laws regulating truck driver hours are not always clear cut, either. For example, consider the "14-Hour Limit," which states that commercial truck drivers cannot  "drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period." This limitation applies to truck drivers who are carrying goods and products in their cargo, while other limitations apply if truck drivers are carrying passengers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates truck driver hours, and these limits apply to the following drivers in specific vehicles only, known as a "CMV" vehicle: 

In general, a CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

While these regulations certainly prevent some drivers from driving too long and becoming dangerous due to the human propensity to need sleep and doze off after long hours of driving, the rules to not obviously apply to all potentially dangerous drivers. Not all trucks meet or exceed the weight limits, or are transporting goods requiring special placards. 

Common Trucking Accidents or Crashes

There are several categorizations of car crashes, and those involving commercial trucking vehicles tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Rear end collision (usually from common cars cutting in front of trucks and the truck can't slow)
  • Head on collisions (often from cars darting in front of a truck, again, trucks cannot slow down)
  • Jacknifes
  • Rollovers
  • Sideswipe
  • T-bone or other side-impact collisions (often resulting from vehicles turning into the path of the truck, which is unable to avoid collision due to an inability to slow in time)
  • Cargo shift causing rollover or jacknife
  • Cargo spill

Trucking Accidents Resulting in Injury

Tragically, many crashes involving commercial trucks result in injury. Sometimes, the injuries are non life-threatening, such as whiplash, sore neck and back, and what are categorized as "soft tissue" injuries. Unfortunately, due to the heavy nature of commercial trucks, many auto versus truck accidents result in catastrophic injury and death. The amount of property damage a truck can cause a pedestrian vehicle is also significantly greater than a typical auto versus auto car crash.

Trucking Accidents Often Result in Fire

When an 18-wheeler crashes into a small SUV, for example, the result is often fatal, sometimes due to fire. Crashes with trucks often result in fire, as the trucks necessitate large amounts of petroleum based fuel, or gasoline. Fortunately, as clean(er) energy options enter the market (such as the newly-announced truck from California's own Tesla), future crashes with trucks may be less likely to result in fire. Many large players in the domestic shipping business have placed orders for the Tesla truck, so hopefully the technology will soon spread throughout the industry, bringing safer trucks to the roads.

What To Do If You Were Injured by a Truck

If you were injured while traveling in California by a truck, you should first take care of your health. Seek medical attention immediately. Proceed to take care of yourself and any passengers involved as you would with a common accident - your health is most important. When you are able to think clearly and are beginning to try to figure out how to recover financially and physically, a call to a California injury law firm may be beneficial. Trucking companies are often represented by aggressive law firms that tend to deny liability on all crashes, sometimes even in contradiction with reports issued by the California Highway patrol or the local police department. Even if you think you were not at fault and that it is obvious that the trucker was at fault, do not assume the truck's insurance company will pay for your medical bills. In fact, if you were injured by a truck, you are actually more likely to face an uphill battle in recovering your costs. 

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent injured plaintiffs throughout the state of California, and are ready to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have. The sooner you discuss your injury claim with an experienced and trusted attorney, the more likely the attorney will be able to help you. When you call The Lions, you will speak directly with an injury attorney, not a salesman. Access to a lawyer who is experienced in handling California injury claims will help you navigate the often complicated world of injury insurance claim settlements.