After being injured in an accident, unfortunately, a second ordeal awaits you: trying to get the money you are owed out of a tight-fisted insurance company. In Mississippi, this is done through a personal injury claim for compensation, which will either end up in a settlement offer from the insurance company or be resolved in court. This article explains how to handle such offers and what to expect, including:
The insurance company adjuster’s job is to get your claim resolved as quickly as possible and as cheaply as possible. Often, this means trying to offer you a ludicrously low offer before you are even able to speak to an attorney.
You should not accept such an offer and should certainly never do so without consulting an attorney first, which is exactly what the insurance company wants to prevent you from doing. This is because an attorney will help you understand exactly how much more your case is worth.
Initial offers might seem enticing, $1000 or $2,000 offers within just days of your accident or injury. But if they are offering so “much,” it is to blind you to the reality of how much more you could be getting.
On average, an attorney will be able to help you recover more than three times the initial offer. Even with attorney’s fees taken into consideration, you will be walking away with two or more times what the insurance company tried to get you to take.
The other reason never to take an early offer is that it does not include any compensation for injuries you are not aware of yet. But it does stop you from claiming compensation for such injuries later.
Instead, give it some time. Follow up with your doctors and make sure you have gotten your treatment and it has been effective. Find out what the bills will actually cost you, and only then claim what you are due from the insurance company.
An early settlement will never be reasonable. But will insurance companies eventually come around and offer a more respectable or fair offer?
Unfortunately, you will never know if a settlement is reasonable unless you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to review the situation, case, claim, and offer. For example, you might be tempted to take an offer of $25,000, especially when the insurance company claims they are doing everything they can for you. But they might not be honest or transparent about that.
That same claim could easily be worth $75,000, all of which you need to cover much-needed medical payments. But the insurance company might have concealed the fact that you could also call on your own insurance, or tried to downplay how much your injury really cost you. Without an attorney, you might never realize just how unreasonable they were being.
When faced with the facts and a lawyer who knows what they are doing, insurance companies will usually give in and offer a reasonable and fair settlement. Not always, however, if they do not, it is time to take them to court.
Here you will certainly need a personal injury lawyer, though you should hire one well before you end up in court.
The sooner you contact a personal injury attorney, the better. For one thing, you might not even realize all the different liable parties and insurances involved in your claim without their help.
Even more importantly, an attorney will act as a bridge between you and medical professionals to help ensure you get the medical care you need, even if you cannot afford it. If you wait too long because you cannot pay for medical care and are hoping your insurance will, you will only end up weakening your own case.
The insurance company will claim you did not need medical care or your accident was not the cause of your injury. They will blame a pre-existing injury or one that happened between your accident and your treatment.
An attorney will also handle communication, helping you avoid a statement to the insurance company that might put your claim at risk. They will record all your calls and take information out of context from what you say to deny or limit your claim.
If you wait until an insurance company denies or offers a small settlement, you will just be making things more difficult for yourself and your attorney. They may have to undo or redo work to figure out why the insurance company denied your claim.
It is far less likely a claim will be denied with an attorney being involved from the beginning, so that is usually a much safer and more effective approach. For more information on the Role Of Insurance In A Personal Injury Claim, an initial consultation is your next best step.