Dealing with a personal injury is stressful, especially when someone else is to blame.
The last thing you want to do is fight for compensation during your recovery. But when you’re dealing with an insurance company in a personal injury case, that’s exactly what you’ll have to do.
While you’re trying to get a fair amount of money that you deserve, an insurance provider is looking to settle for the lowest amount possible.
Here’s what to expect from an insurance company when you file a personal injury claim and how a personal injury attorney can protect your rights.
How Do I Start the Insurance Process?
When you make a personal injury claim, you will often deal with the defendant’s insurance company. You can present a demand letter to the provider that includes how much you believe your claim is worth as well as supporting documentation.
The types of damages for which you might be compensated include medical bills, lost wages, permanent physical disability or disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of capacity for enjoyment of life. You may also be reimbursed for property damage if, for example, the incident was an auto accident.
Some damages are easier to put a value on than others. For example, you will have documentation for medical expenses and should be able to add up lost wages if you know how long you’ll be out of work. But other damages (such as pain and suffering or mental anguish) may be harder to put a price on. A personal injury attorney can help you determine these amounts.
After your demand letter is sent, you will likely get a response from the insurance company in the form of a reservation of rights letter. The provider is letting you know your claim is under investigation, but the company reserves the right to deny you coverage later. This allows negotiations to get underway without the provider waiving its rights.
What Happens During Insurance Negotiations?
When negotiations begin, an insurance adjuster will contact you and ask a series of questions. As the claims specialist investigates, they’ll be working to reduce the value of your compensation by disputing elements of the case such as coverage, liability, seriousness of injuries, and type of medical treatment.
The claims representative may ask for a recorded statement or authorization to view your medical records. The adjuster could try to get you to sign a release and say they will cover your out-of-pocket expenses later. The specialist may misrepresent the damages you’re able to collect, as well as the percentages. The representative could say they only owe what your health insurance deductible won’t cover.
The bottom line is the insurance adjuster may ask for information they’re not entitled to receive (and tell you things that aren’t true) to lower your settlement. They may be trying to prevent you from recovering the entire scope of damages you are eligible to seek. A personal injury attorney can help by making sure you don’t agree to something that’s not in your best interests.
Once negotiations are finished, and both sides have agreed to an insurance settlement, a proposal will be drawn up and signed. However, if an agreement is not reached, the matter can be taken to court as a personal injury lawsuit.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid With Insurance?
There are things to keep in mind when dealing with insurance companies and personal injury claims that will save you some headache.
- Don’t give the insurance adjuster more information than they need to know. For example, if you give authorization to view your medical records, they may get access to your entire medical history and find something to reduce your claim.
- Don’t allow the claims specialist to record your statements. You have no legal obligation to do so, and they could use something you say to lower your settlement.
- Don’t believe everything the claims representative says. For example, in an auto accident, the rep may tell you to go through your insurance and they’ll reimburse you later. However, that usually prevents you from getting a rental car without paying your deductible first. If you go through the at-fault party’s insurance, you’ll get a rental car and not owe a deductible.
- Don’t settle too fast. Your injury could be worse than it appears and lead to future loss of income or other repercussions. You may not have taken into consideration several factors that could increase the value of your claim.
- Don’t let the cost of the attorney stop you from hiring one. Having this type of expertise on your side is too valuable. Besides, you’ll likely be represented on a contingency fee contract, which means you don’t pay your lawyer until you receive compensation.
What to Expect From Insurance Companies In Personal Injury Cases
Now you know more about how insurance companies handle personal injury claims.
From the start, an insurance adjuster will work to lower your settlement and possibly deny your claim altogether. The more you know about the value of your claim and your rights as a personal injury victim, the better off you’ll be.
A personal injury attorney can determine fair compensation, negotiate on your behalf, and make sure you’re not being taken advantage of. Our personal injury lawyers would love to discuss your case at Bulluck Law Group in Tampa, Florida.