The trucking industry is full of battles and challenges. One such challenge is the potential for accidents, which can cause damage to both the truck and the driver. While accidents are a known enemy for truckers, mitigation is an unknown enemy that can have significant consequences. Knowing the legal requirements of mitigating losses after an accident can be one of those unknown enemies to truckers.
What Does the Law Have to Do with It?
Handling an insurance claim for the first time can be challenging. The laws of many states require the claimants (victims of an accident) to mitigate their losses (to make their losses as small as possible). However, at-fault drivers’ insurance companies are rarely legally required to explain these laws to the victims.
Welcome to Mitigation Station
Mitigation refers to the legal obligation of a claimant to take reasonable steps to reduce their losses. In the event of an accident, the law in many states requires the claimant to mitigate their losses, meaning they must take steps to make their losses as small as possible. This can be a challenging task, as many claimants are not aware of the steps they need to take to mitigate their losses.
For truckers, mitigation can be particularly challenging. When a truck is damaged in an accident, it may be down for an extended period due to parts delays and mechanic shops being backed up. This downtime can have a devastating effect on a single truck owner-operator’s business, as no income is generated during this time. Furthermore, the fixed expenses of the trucking business remain, which can quickly add up to significant losses.
Don’t Rely on the At-Fault Insurance Company for Advice
It is essential for truckers to be proactive in mitigating their losses. Relying on the at-fault driver’s insurance company for advice is not recommended, as they have a duty to their own insured and are not the claimant’s legal advocate. Truckers must take it upon themselves to work diligently towards getting back on the road as soon as possible.
After repairs are finally complete, the at-fault insurance company may say, “You didn’t mitigate your damages, so we don’t have to pay you any money for your downtime.” “But you didn’t tell me!” you exclaim. However, it’s up to the trucker to work diligently toward getting back on the road ASAP.
“Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse”
As my lawyer-father repeated over and over while I was growing up, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” It’s important to remember that even though the other driver’s insurance company seems to be helping you get your claim resolved, they aren’t your insurance company or your legal advocate. The adverse insurance company has a duty to their own insureds, not you. So be careful. Don’t adopt a lackadaisical attitude, thinking they are going to help you and protect your rights.
Keep Good Records and Gather Proof
Documentation is critical when trying to mitigate losses. Truckers should keep a diary of conversations with both their insurance company and the other party’s insurance company. It is important to prove attempts were made to rent other equipment during the downtime period. Proof that no available equipment is present from rental companies and letters from their motor carrier not allowing temporary rentals are also helpful. Such records will help to prove mitigation of damages during the downtime period.
Not trying to mitigate losses can have a devastating effect on a claim. If there is no mitigation proof, the offer from the adverse insurance company may only be a small portion of the loss.
Knowledge is Power
It is crucial for truckers to understand the term “mitigation” and what it means in their claim scenario. By following the proper steps of a claim and documenting all efforts, truckers have a better chance of collecting the maximum amount of money from the adverse insurance company on their downtime claim.
In conclusion, mitigation is an unknown enemy that can have significant consequences for truckers. It’s essential to be proactive in mitigating losses after an accident, document all efforts, and be aware of what the term “mitigation” means in their claim scenario. By taking these steps, truckers can reduce their losses, get reimbursed for their lost income, and get back on the road as soon as possible.