Automobile insurance companies hold the upper hand when dealing with people on personal injury claims. The insurance company has better access to information, they have more experience, and they have all the money in the world so there is no pressure on them to pay a high settlement to someone who is not represented by a lawyer. If you are questioning whether the settlement offer the insurance company made you is unfair, you probably have good reason to wonder.
HOW DO INSURANCE COMPANIES VALUE CAR ACCIDENT CLAIMS?
Insurance companies look at a few key factors when deciding how much to offer people injured in car accidents and trucking accidents. First, they have a computer database that gives them a settlement range depending on how the accident occurred and what injuries the doctors reported. Second, they look at the amount of medical expenses that were reasonably and necessarily incurred as a result of the accident. Third, they consider whether the person’s injuries caused them to miss any work, and if so, how much work the person missed. And finally, the insurance company considers the place where the person would take the case to trial. In conservative venues like Utah, insurance companies offer less money than they would in places like Las Vegas or California where pain and suffering damage awards are much higher.
DON’T BELIEVE SETTLEMENT CALCULATORS
Some attorney websites will tell you that the insurance companies will figure out a settlement value by calculating your medical expenses and then multiplying that by three. Those website are wrong. The insurance company calculations for personal injury claims are far more complicated than that. There is no magic formula for determining the value of a personal injury case. Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
FIGURING OUT WHAT IS FAIR
A fair personal injury settlement is the amount a jury would pay the injured person for the injuries they sustained in their accident. It is impossible to say that a specific number is “fair,” but you can generally establish a settlement range. We would consider any settlement amount that falls in the correct range to be fair.
Under the best circumstances, an injury settlement would be one in which the person’s medical expenses are fully paid, they are compensated for their lost income, and they get a reasonable amount for pain and suffering.
THE INSURANCE COMPANY’S MOTIVATION
Although they are not supposed to, insurance claims adjusters will sometimes tell injured people to not get a personal injury attorney. They do not want you to have an attorney because it means they will wind up paying more.
One thing to keep in mind is that the ultimate decision about how much to pay for injury claims is made by actuaries and accountants who work for the insurance company to keep it profitable. Do not forget that you are dealing with a for-profit business. Their motivation is to make money for shareholders. One way they do that is by keeping settlement payouts low.
THE BENEFIT OF A FREE CONSULTATION
The benefit of a free consultation is that you can sit down with an experienced personal injury attorney and discuss the facts of your case. On some occasions, we have told potential clients that the insurance company’s offer was reasonable and that they should accept it and move on. More often though, we find that insurance companies have offered less than the full value of the case.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you get a settlement that is fair. The only way to beat insurance companies at their game is to present the right legal evidence. Your attorney will know how to present the medical evidence, the witness testimony and the legal arguments in the most persuasive way possible. If you have a complicated case, you should definitely hire an attorney to make sure it gets handled correctly.