After filing a personal injury claim with an auto insurance, medical malpractice, homeowner’s, or commercial liability insurance company, an investigation takes place. The investigation seeks to determine the legitimacy and merits of the claim. Sadly, many fraudulent claims are filed and insurance investigators cannot simply take the word of a claimant at face value.
Upon examining documents such as medical bills, photographs of the accident, eyewitness reports, assessments of lost wages, pain and suffering complaints, and more, an insurance adjuster may make a settlement offer to the claimant. A settlement reflects a monetary amount the insurance company offers to close the case and avoid any civil litigation.
After receiving a settlement offer, the injured party must weigh the option of accepting the offer. Settlements are open to negotiation, which is why working with an personal injury lawyer may prove extremely helpful when dealing with insurance adjusters and examining their offer.
The Attorney Examines the Settlement
Insurance adjusters base settlements on the losses inherent with the personal injury claim. A review of medical bills would not be too difficult to figure out. If the injured party’s out-of-pocket medical expenses are $32,000, then $32,000 becomes a figure hard to dismiss. Lost wages might be a bit more complicated when someone’s wages fluctuate. The adjuster’s figures may be below what the injured party considers adequate. Putting a figure on pain and suffering probably won’t come with easy agreements.
An personal injury lawyer reviews the settlement offer the insurance adjuster puts forth. The attorney then discusses the settlement offer with a client who could not only accept or reject the offer, he/she could ask the attorney to negotiate for a higher amount. More than likely, the initial offer will be a low one so the attorney will be ready to negotiate a fairer settlement.
Ultimately, accepting or dismissing the settlement is up to the client.
The Attorney’s Experience
The injured party probably won’t be very effective when it comes to negotiating a settlement. An insurance adjuster is a professional. The injured party simply suffered harm due to a combination of misfortune and someone else’s negligence. None of this enhances or creates any skill with insurance settlement negotiations.
Attempts by the injured party to negotiate with an insurance adjuster might lead to less-than-beneficial outcomes. Hiring an experienced attorney turns over all the negotiations to someone who truly understands how to handle such matters.
Due in large part to their experience, attorneys also understand the reality of the situation. Someone who feels he/she could receive more money turning down a settlement and fighting in court might be very sorely mistaken. An attorney can advise against going a route that probably would not deliver the sought after result.
Settlements and Litigation
In some cases, an injured party may accept an insurance payout and also continue to sue a negligent party. A negligent driver may be at fault for a wrongful death. The driver’s net worth could be $600,000 but he/she only carries $100,000 in auto liability insurance. An attorney could sue for far more than the insurance policy’s coverage limit and receive an insurance settlement along with a judgment the defendant would be required to personally pay.
An attorney may also point out when the assets and net worth of the defendant are so little, filing suit beyond the insurance coverage would not be worth it. Ultimately, an personal injury attorney seeks to represent his/her client in the best and most ethical manner. Doing so involves being truthful about how much money to actually, realistically expect.
The Initial Consultation
After being injured in any type of accident or situation derived from negligence, setting up a consultation meeting with an attorney should become a priority. This way, the merits of the case can be discussed along with steps on how to approach a settlement offer or civil case.