One of the first parties to come and talk to you after you have been injured in a car accident is the insurance company, through a person called an “insurance adjuster,” whose job it is to talk with accident victims and gain a settlement out of court.
Some people, due to stress caused by the accident, might want to settle stuff with the insurance company right away. However, that’s not the correct way of dealing with insurance adjusters, and is a poor way to handle your claim following an accident.
Why You Should Not Accept the Offer Right Away
Some people find it tempting to just accept the money and move on. However, if you dissect the settlement amount being offered, you’ll find that it is unfair and does not compensate you fully for the damages you suffered from the accident. Remember, insurance companies work with their own interest in mind and not yours, so they’ll want to pay you as little money as possible. It’s generally impossible to know the extent of your injuries right after a car accident, except in maybe a minor accident. You need to be seen by the doctor a few times, making sure to get the MRIs, and treatment you need to restore your health. This takes time, and settling your injury case before you fully know the extent of your injuries will almost always leave you paying out of pocket for expenses that the at-fault party’s insurance company should have paid.
The Right Way of Dealing with Insurance Offers
Instead of accepting a fast low-ball offer from the insurance company, what you should do is request the insurance adjuster to give you a breakdown detailing how they calculated such a settlement amount for you. At the same time, take into account your own expenses incurred as a result of the collision, including medical fees and medications to maintain, if there are any. You will need this later on when the insurance companies sends you a reply.
When the insurance company replies with the requested calculation, this is when you produce your own calculations and make a counter-offer. Do not hesitate to make a counter-offer that is higher than what the insurance company is offering you. However, make sure to back it up with documents like doctor’s prescriptions, pharmacy and laboratory receipts and other relevant paperwork.
You can expect the process to be quite lengthy. As mentioned earlier, the insurance company prioritizes its own interest. While they may want to meet you halfway, the settlement offer may not be enough to compensate you for what you suffered, and what you will go through in the future.
In an accident case involving significant injuries, such as broken bones, or herniated discs, it is best to seek out the help of a personal injury attorney that specializes in accident cases because they know the ins and outs of negotiating a fair settlement from parties like insurance companies, or the at-fault driver himself. These firms and their lawyers can give you sound advice, and can assist you in the process itself.
While you may be apprehensive because of the legal fees involved, seek out a personal injury law firm that agrees to work on a contingency basis. With a contingency agreement in place, you will only have to pay the firm a fixed amount calculated from your final settlement, and if there is no recovery, you generally won’t owe the law firm anything. This agreement is very flexible, and makes the law firm’s service relatively affordable because you don’t have to pay anything up front.
We put together a book, and some additional resources to help people settle their own minor injury claims. Visit the “Helpful Info” section of our website to download these free resources.