If you have been involved in a car accident that has left you with an injury, the best way to protect yourself is by working with an experienced personal injury attorney. These attorneys can help walk you through the insurance claims process, negotiate with insurance claims adjusters, and ultimately help you get a fair settlement amount. Keep reading to learn more about how your attorney can protect you from insurance adjusters and their predatory tactics.
Understand the Insurance Adjuster’s Motivation
When an insurance policy covers an incident, and a claim is filed, an “adjuster” (an employee of the insurance company) is assigned to investigate what happened and to figure out how much the claim is worth. It’s important to remember that the adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. The adjuster’s focus is always on keeping any payout as low as possible so the insurance company is more profitable.
While insurance adjusters want to pay out as little as possible, they also want to avoid a personal injury lawsuit. If a case does not settle outside of court, and the lawsuit makes it all the way to trial, the judge or jury will make a decision on who is at fault (“liable”), whether compensation (“damages”) is appropriate, and if so, how much. This is risky territory for an insurance company, as a damages award can end up being very high if the jury is sympathetic to the plaintiff. Legal fees and other costs associated with a trial can also add up quickly—expenses that don’t help the insurance company’s bottom line.
The insurance adjuster, then, generally has the job of getting the claimant to accept the lowest settlement offer possible, without filing a lawsuit.
How an Insurance Adjuster Decides on an Offer
In personal injury cases, insurance adjusters usually consider the same factors that juries would look at in deciding what the claim is worth. These factors include:
- actual expenses (i.e. medical bills) incurred, and those that will be incurred in the future
- lost income or lost ability to make a living
- “pain and suffering”, and
- other negative effects of the claimant’s injuries.
Some of these damages (those for actual expenses and lost income) are fairly easy to determine. Losses like “pain and suffering”, on the other hand, are much more subjective. Learn more about “pain and suffering” in a personal injury case.
Insurance adjusters also consider two other key factors: policy limits and the strength of the plaintiff’s case.
The policy limits.
An insurance company is never going to pay more than the maximum amount of the insurance policy. For example, if the at-fault driver carried $50,000 in liability insurance, the maximum the insurance company will ever pay out in connection with the accident is $50,000. If your damages exceed the at-fault person’s coverage limits, you’ll need to collect the difference directly from them.
The strength of the plaintiff’s case.
If the plaintiff has a really solid case (like a medical malpractice claim where a doctor left a surgical instrument inside the plaintiff) then the insurer is more likely to offer a larger settlement, because a plaintiff’s victory in court will be almost certain. If a plaintiff’s case is fairly weak, then the insurer is likely to offer much less, since the claimant is likely to go to court and get nothing.
Call our law firm to to learn more about how your attorney can protect you from insurance adjusters.
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