Why You Shouldn't Settle With Insurance Companies
If you have suffered a serious personal injury, an initial offer from the insurance company in the thousands may look amazing, but you should always look closely at what they are really offering. It’s most likely a lowball offer that won’t cover all your damages. If you accept quickly and sign a waiver against filing a suit, obtaining any future compensation may be impossible.
Insurance companies are usually large, for-profit businesses. They are not your ally, advocate, or friend, and they definitely are not working in your best interest. Their sole goal is to maximize their profits. For this reason, it’s important to find an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows the “game” that the insurance company will play to avoid paying you fair compensation.
Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Settle With Insurance Companies
Why would the insurance company make a low settlement offer? Because people will take them, with no questions asked! Many people have accepted far less money than what they deserved, because they didn’t know they could get more, or they were tempted by a quick settlement offer. Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t settle with an insurance company or accept their first offer:
- You may be entitled to more money. If you’ve recently been injured, you don’t have a full calculation of the cost of your injuries, yet. Don’t rely on the insurance company’s calculations. Instead, you and your attorney will need to conduct your own investigation to determine the extent of your injuries, the cost of your medical care, and the value of your pain and suffering. Gathering the documentation necessary to support these expenses takes time. You don’t want to accept an offer before you know the full cost of your damages.
- Your injuries may be worse than you think. It can take months to determine all your injuries from an accident and the necessary treatments that you may need in the future, such as surgery or physical rehabilitation. You may also suffer complications during your recovery, which may make your injuries more serious or prolong your recovery time. Also, you may receive costly, unexpected medical bills well after you’ve received the care (sometimes up to a year later). The insurance company knows that if you accept an early offer, they will save money on any long-term problems that result from your injuries.
- The offer doesn’t take into account your pain and suffering. It’s unlikely that the insurance company’s settlement offer considers the mental and emotional trauma that you’ve suffered as a result of your accident. If you’ve suffered a great deal due to your injuries, including unmanageable physical pain, depression, or anxiety, then you shouldn’t settle until the offer takes this into account. Your attorney will work on providing the necessary evidence of this suffering and how much you deserve to be compensated.
- It’s a lowball offer. The insurance company will want to pay out as little as possible; they will likely undervalue your claim and offer you less than what your case is worth. The first settlement offer is almost always a lowball offer that requires further negotiation.
Tactics Used By Insurance Companies To Reduce Claims
Now that you are aware of why you shouldn’t settle with the insurance company, it’s important to know some of the different tactics they may use to reduce your claim or settlement amount:
- Delaying payment. The insurance company may delay payment and make you endure the struggle of lost wages and medical expenses without any compensation, because they know you may “crack” under the pressure and agree to settle for a lesser amount than you deserve.
- Denying coverage. They may argue that the accident was your fault, that you contributed to the accident, or that another party under another policy was at fault. They may use these reasons as a basis to deny or limit their liability for paying a claim or settlement.
- Misrepresenting your insurance benefits. The insurance company may also downplay the amount of insurance you have available under the insurance contract. They may lead you to believe that you have less coverage available. For example, they may deny that you have uninsured motorist coverage (something everyone in Arizona is offered when getting insurance). However, if they can’t provide signed proof that you rejected this coverage when you signed up with them, they will have to provide it to you.
- Offering a quick settlement. They may offer you a quick settlement in exchange for signing a full release from other damages. While you may be tempted to accept a quick offer and put your accident behind you, remember that you may not know the full extent of your injuries, yet.
- Using recorded statements. The insurance company may try to get you to provide a recorded statement. They want this so they can try to twist your words and use your honest statements against you later. For example, they may even try to take your, “I’m fine” reply in response to them asking “How are you today?” out of context and use it to argue that you are lying about your injuries. Providing a recorded statement is usually a bad idea.
Can I Try To Resettle My Claim If I Accepted A Low-Ball Offer?
If you have a signed a settlement agreement, it’s very unlikely that you will be able to pursue any additional compensation for your injuries. This is why it’s so crucial that you obtain the help of a personal injury attorney before accepting any settlement offer. Your lawyer will work on your behalf and with your best interests in mind.
How A Personal Injury Attorney Can Maximize Your Case Value
While some cases may not require an attorney, those who have suffered a serious personal injury will probably benefit from the specialized skills and knowledge of someone who knows the legal system. Your insurance company, and the other party’s insurance company, will most definitely have a team of lawyers working for them. It’s not a fair game, but a personal injury lawyer can help you maximize your case value by:
- Communicating with the insurance company. Your attorney can handle all calls, emails and letters on your behalf. They can also prevent you from doing anything that may jeopardize your claim, such as giving a recorded statement. Your personal injury lawyer knows the insurance company’s dirty tactics and won’t be intimidated by their aggressive insurance adjusters.
- Evaluating your case, injuries, medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering. Your attorney will work with your medical team to assess your injuries and the future effects of your recovery. They will gather all evidence to support your claim.
- Negotiating a fair settlement agreement. Personal injury lawyers are used to negotiating with insurance companies. They can review your insurance policy details and determine the maximum level of compensation that may be available based on the specific circumstances of your case.
- Drafting demand letters, settlement agreements, and pleadings that ensure your legal rights are protected and that you receive the compensation that you deserve.
- Representing you at trial if there is no settlement agreement.
Dealing with an insurance company can be very overwhelming, especially when you are struggling with your injuries. The attorneys at Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC can help. We are ready to fight for the compensation you need and deserve.
Reach out to one of our skilled lawyers at our firm today. We serve our personal injury clients in our conveniently located offices in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Chandler, and Tucson. Call us today or fill out our online contact page.