Dealing With Insurance Companies In A Personal Injury Claim
From medical malpractice to automobile accidents, you have the right to seek full justice and maximum compensation for your injuries caused by another party’s negligence. If you find yourself in a position where you will be filing a personal injury claim, there is a very good chance you are going to be dealing with an insurance company. It’s important to understand how insurance companies adjusters work and how having the aid of an experienced personal injury lawyer can help.
Understanding the motivation behind the insurance adjuster
When you have to file a claim against someone you believe was responsible for your accident, normally the negotiation process will be with a claims/insurance adjuster for that person’s liability insurance company. Insurance adjusters are assigned to a case to research your accident, investigate facts, and decides how much money you are entitled to. The adjuster’s job is to try to settle the claim in a way that saves the company money. They work for the insurance company, not for you as the insured or as the victim. Therefore, your financial interests and the insurance company’s financial interests are in a natural conflict – you want a maximum payout, your insurer a minimum.
A good adjuster will go through the documentation on the case with a fine-toothed comb. He/she will talk to witness, review police and hospital records, and inspects physical damages – using this information to determine how much the insurance company will have to pay. That’s why it’s crucial to be prepared when negotiating a good personal injury settlement after an accident.
Important information to consider
While the first conversations after your accident may be difficult because you may be agitated or in pain, it’s important to guide yourself with the following principles as they will keep you from saying or doing anything that will adversely affect your insurance claim:
Avoid Settling Too Quickly
Insurance companies want to settle personal injury claims quickly because many medical problems from accident injuries might appear in the future. Sometimes symptoms are not discovered until further diagnostic examinations have been done. And if you have already settled your personal injury claim by then, the insurance company is off the hook. It is to your advantage to wait until you know what treatment you’ll need in the future. In the meantime, carefully document all of your treatment, bills, and lost wages.
Avoid Signing A Medical Release
The other party’s insurance adjuster may ask you to sign a form authorizing your doctor to send medical records to the insurance company. Do not sign the release! Their goal is to convince you to settle for less than your claim is legitimately worth. One trick they use is to leverage the confidential medical information they get by searching around in your personal medical history. Your personal injury attorney should personally review all of your medical records and only send the particular records necessary to prove your claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Emphasize emotional points
Even though there is no way to put a dollar value on emotional factors, they can be powerful when it comes to getting an insurance company to settle a claim. For example, you can explain a newfound anxiety in driving or an inability to care for your child after the injury caused by an accident.
Get the adjuster to justify a low offer
If the adjuster makes an offer so low, it is most likely a negotiating tactic to see if you know what your claim is really worth. Ask the insurance adjuster to identify reasons why you were given a lower offer than you had asked for in your initial claim.
Lawyers can help you make sure you get the full spectrum of damages you’re entitled to and can use expert legal knowledge and negotiation skills to get you the best outcome. Also, the insurers and defendants may take your claim more seriously once you’re represented by an attorney.
If you’re reluctant to hire a lawyer out of fear of paying legal fees, have no worries. Many law firms like Harvey L. Walner & Associates’ work on a contingency-fee arrangement, where we do not receive any money or legal fees unless you win your case or settle outside of court.
The law surrounding personal injuries and insurance companies is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. If you are having trouble understanding your coverage, or that of another person, you can count on Harvey L. Walner & Associates to serve as an objective party that understands the contractual language of insurance policies to take a look at the policy and offer advice.
About Harvey L. Walner & Associates
Our attorneys have over 75 years of combined legal experience in personal injury specializations, including personal injury accidents, worker’s compensation, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases. If you or a loved one should have the misfortune of being in a personal injury accident, and you need a personal injury lawyer, the experienced attorneys at Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd. are here for you. Call us today for a free consultation.