Many people make it through life without suffering serious personal injury at the hands of another person’s negligence. Unfortunately, others are not so lucky. For those who do suffer such injury, it’s a life-changing event. And it seems like insurance companies are involved in almost every step of the process.
Whether you’re dealing with another driver’s liability carrier or your own uninsured motorist provider, a common question (or complaint) we hear is, “Why is the insurance company’s settlement offer so low?” In this article, we’ll provide some possible answers.
1. You Haven’t Properly Documented Your Injuries
To be fair to the insurance companies, they are looking for objective evidence of your injuries. There is no better place to find that than from a doctor or other medical care provider.
When you go to appointments, these professionals carefully document your injuries, as well as test results, diagnoses, details about your treatment, and details about your recovery. Carefully organizing your medical records will help you and your lawyer demonstrate all of your injuries to an insurance company.
This is why it’s important to always get checked out after an accident and to follow all medical advice you receive at those check-ups. And, of course, keep duplicate copies of all of your medical records.
2. You Don’t Have a Lawyer
If you don’t have a lawyer, you’re almost guaranteed to receive a low-ball offer. Insurance adjusters will assume that they have an advantage and that you do not have the skill to properly value your case – and they’re probably not too far from the truth.
The average person may only be involved in one or two personal injury cases over the course of a lifetime. Experienced personal injury lawyers, on the other hand, have handled scores of cases and have an understanding of how to value them.
The insurance company will also try to take advantage of your ignorance. They will attempt to conduct interviews and ask questions that a good lawyer may not have permitted. Adjusters will take every step possible to have personal injury victims say things that will later harm the value of their cases.
A good lawyer is the best way to avoid such mistakes.
3. You Hired the Wrong Lawyer
Lawyers specialize, just like doctors and other professionals. Obviously, an adult who suffers a traumatic brain injury does not visit a pediatrician for treatment.
However, some people injured in car or semi-truck accidents hire lawyers who spend the majority of their time defending criminal cases, fighting in divorce court, and practicing a variety of types of law unrelated to tort law and personal injuries.
Another mistake is to hire a lawyer who does not try cases. Insurance companies know which lawyers are willing to fight in court and will usually offer more to settle the cases in which they are involved.
Carefully choose your lawyer, making sure the firm specializes in personal injury law and has a reputation for trying cases when needed.
4. You Haven’t Proven Damages
Have you refused treatment, even though you’re injured? Believe it or not, many people do.
Have you followed the advice of your medical care providers? Have you gone to all of your follow-up appointments? Many people don’t.
All of these are mistakes when dealing with insurance companies, because adjusters will later use this information in attempts to argue that you are not really injured or that your injuries are not severe. Plus, while not always true, insurance companies usually value cases more highly when a victim has incurred more medical expenses. It makes sense: the worse a person is hurt, the more medical treatment he or she will probably need.
To prove your damages, follow your medical care provider’s advice, obtain the treatment you need, and keep good records of the costs.
5. Insurance Is a Business
In Oregon, we’re lucky to have financial responsibility laws which require all drivers to purchase insurance.
But let’s face it – when you are injured in an accident, you are not the opposing insurance company’s main priority. Their priority is to limit expenses and maximize profits for their shareholders or mutual members. Part of keeping expenses low is to pay you as little as possible.
When that’s what you’re up against, you need all the evidence and legal support you can get.
Call with Questions
If you’ve been injured as a result of another person’s negligence, you will likely be dealing with insurance companies. If you have questions about what to do, please call us. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield work with and against insurance companies almost daily.
Insurance adjusters know that we will go to court and fight for every dollar a case is worth. We believe holding wrongdoers fully accountable for their wrongful behavior is the only way to keep society safe for everyone.