When negotiating a personal injury claim, you will likely deal with an insurance company or an adjuster at some point in the process. The insurance adjuster investigates the case with the goal to, at the very least, obtain the same facts as your personal injury attorney before preparing to make an offer.
One important aspect to keep in mind before pursuing a personal injury claim with an insurance company is that the insurance company may not always have your best interests in mind as they investigate your case. Be sure to understand the process, and what common tactics to watch out for that could hurt your case before pursuing your injury claim with an insurance company.
The first step of any personal injury claim is the investigation stage. An insurance adjuster will want to get the full story from the insured, as well as any written police report or accident report. The adjuster may even contact the insurer to hear the story firsthand as well.
Insurers have access to claims databases that allow adjusters to determine whether or not you, the plaintiff, have ever filed a personal injury claim in the past. They will use this information along with any other research they may find online to determine the legitimacy of your case against the insured.
Request & Review Documentation
As mentioned, insurance adjusters will request access to certain documentation as they investigate and determine the settlement for your case. In addition to medical records, adjusters may request medical bills, proof of earnings, tax returns, and proof of property damage.
The adjuster will meticulously review all acquired documentation to help guide their settlement offer. A well-known negative tactic used by insurance companies as they determine settlements is to claim your injuries or damages are not as severe as you claim. They may also use medical records to try to claim your injuries are a result of a pre-existing condition.
For example, if they see any documentation of prior injuries or complaints regarding the body part injured in the accident that led to the current claim, they will request all records for any treatment you’ve ever had for that condition to try to delegitimize your case.
Determine Settlement Value
Once the adjuster has all of the necessary information needed to value your case, he or she will assign a value. The adjuster will consider your chances of winning at trial, and how much a jury might award you at said trial. They will also consider your damage claims, including exact calculations such as medical bills and lost earnings, as well as pain and suffering claims.
Often times, insurance companies are aware that people who file personal injury claims need immediate funds to keep them afloat. If you were significantly injured, you likely have medical bills to pay or lost wages to account for if you missed work due to the injury. Insurance adjusters will often offer a quick settlement, usually a small amount of money that may seem substantial or attractive at the time, in order to get a signed release of any future liability.
It is almost never in the injured person’s best interest to take the quick settlement option. Some injuries related to your accident may not even be known for months after the fact, and settling early will only hurt you in the future. Insurance adjusters might also delay a fair settlement offer in conjunction with the quick, low ball offer.
With their vast amounts of resources at their disposal, insurance companies will rely on the fact that the injured parties do not have access to such resources, and are often in a financial bind. The adjusters will use this to pressure the injured parties into settling for less than what they could receive in a fair trial.
Always Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Insurance adjusters handling personal injury claims will often tell injured parties that they don’t need to hire an attorney. While technically true, it’s unadvised, and often works only in the insurance company’s favor. Studies have shown that insurance claimants represented by an attorney routinely achieve better settlements than those who do not hire representation.
Experienced personal injury attorneys can combat false claims made by the insurance companies, and can cut through their stalling tactics. If you were recently injured or involved in an accident in Southwest Florida, don’t let an insurance company take advantage of your situation. Contact us today to receive the settlement you deserve.