A commercial driver’s world is rocked when they get into an accident. It can be a huge hassle to deal with an insurance claim while trying to get a vehicle back on the road. Unfortunately, many truckers don’t know about the duty to mitigate their losses. Mitigation applies to single truck owner-operators, fleets, black car services, and other types of commercial vehicles. Despite not being the at-fault driver, a commercial vehicle owner must try to mitigate their damages in a reasonable time. If they don’t, mitigation could turn a downtime claim into a nightmare claim.
What is Mitigation?
Technically, it means to lessen your losses in reasonable ways. The most common examples include trying to rent a replacement vehicle, getting your own insurance involved, or paying for repairs yourself to get back on the road. It may impact your case if no attempts to mitigate are documented, so be sure to get every communication in writing.
The Black Car Catastrophe:
Imagine you own a limo which was rear-ended at a stop sign. As the owner, you should do everything within reason to get the limo back on the road and speed up the claims process. In an ideal world, you would only need to report the accident to the other party’s insurance company. However, sometimes adjusters are just not responsive or don’t accept liability for the damage their insured did.
It’s important to get the limo to the shop quickly and try to find a comparable vehicle to replace it while in the shop. If you can’t find a luxury car replacement, be sure to get denial letters from rental companies. In a utopian world, you would get reimbursed right away for your lost income and/or rental expenses by the at-fault driver’s insurance. However, this is not always the case, and you should collect written proof of mitigation each step of the way. Evidence is important, so your attorney can best argue your case for you.
Getting a Response After No Mitigation:
A dystopian version of the above example would be if you only filed a claim with the other side’s insurance who denied the claim, then ignored you, then finally took months to resolve the claim even after clear proof was provided to them. While waiting for the adverse adjuster, you didn’t try to mitigate your damages. You didn’t call rental companies or keep any documented evidence of the rental denials or lack of suitable equipment.
If you don’t gather evidence that you tried to mitigate your damages, the other side may only offer rental rate or labor hours at best. This nightmare may be the difference between a $1500 offer and a $15,000 offer, for example.
Don’t Wait. Mitigate!
You don’t want to be at the mercy of the other driver’s insurance company. Do not wait to get back on the road! Protect your business and do what’s necessary to move your claim along, even if the other side is not doing their part. Document the attempts to rent and demand your full losses from the adverse adjuster. Again, in most states, you do not necessarily need to be successful at mitigating; you just need to show you made reasonable attempts.
If you have a claim and want to avoid it turning into a nightmare, give us a call. We are available to speak with you on all types of accident claims.