DON’T TAKE THE FIRST OFFER THE INSURANCE COMPANY GIVES YOU
Insurance company adjusters are busy people. Last year, there were nearly 30,000 auto collisions in Nebraska. More than 10,000 people were injured or killed. Although some crashes involved only a single vehicle, many involved more than one driver, resulting in third-party personal injury claims.
Those busy adjusters working for the companies that insured the at-fault drivers were more than likely quick to make a settlement offer to injury victims. The reason is not just because they were handling a lot of claims. Adjusters are highly motivated to close claims quickly while spending as little of the company’s profits as possible.
At Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O., we know how insurance companies work in their own interests instead of in the interest of those injured by their insureds. If you have been injured in Omaha, Nebraska, or in Douglas, Dodge, Sarpy, or Lancaster counties, let us tell you why you should not take the first settlement offer an insurance company makes.
HOW DO INSURANCE COMPANIES RESPOND TO A LIABILITY CLAIM?
The first response from most insurance companies will be benign neglect. If you contact them about a liability claim against their insured, they will probably open a claim, assign a number to it, then wait. You may contact them repeatedly and receive no response. The adjuster might attempt to wait you out, hoping you’ll simply give up.
If you don’t give up, the adjuster will be forced to respond to your claim, and at that point, the insurer will move quickly, offering you an often ridiculously low settlement amount, hoping you will be desperate enough to take it.
WHY SHOULD I REFUSE THE FIRST SETTLEMENT OFFER?
Beware. Once you accept an offer in full and final settlement of all claims, you are finished. You cannot ask for more or sue their insured in court. You also need to understand that no matter how sympathetic adjusters appear to be, they do not have your best interests at heart.
You may be drowning in medical bills and lost money while you were unable to work due to your injuries. That may make you somewhat desperate to get some money, even if it is not enough, from the negligent driver’s insurance company. It really is not wise to accept a settlement offer without reviewing your claim with a personal injury attorney.
The initial offer is usually low even if it is based only on the expenses you have incurred thus far. The fact is that after a car wreck, it takes time to know what the value of your damages will add up to. If you settle too quickly, you may find yourself with thousands of more dollars in economic and non-economic damages later. You should not accept an offer until your physician has deemed that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
WHAT IS MAXIMUM MEDICAL IMPROVEMENT (MMI)?
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is the optimum physical recovery you can reach after suffering injuries. Many injury victims are never the same after a crash. They may be disabled or disfigured. They may never be able to enjoy doing the things they did before the crash or will experience pain if they do those things. For example, you might have loved going dancing before the crash. Although you can go dancing after the crash, you spend days suffering from the pain and discomfort that activity may now cause.
MMI is the point at which you have recovered to the best level you can, even if that is not a full recovery to where you were prior to the collision. Only when your doctor determines you have reached MMI will you be able to calculate the full cost of your cumulative expenses.
WHAT HAPPENS ONCE I REACH MMI?
You must submit a settlement demand to the insurance company, along with all the necessary documentation regarding the assignment of fault for the crash, medical records and bills, evidence of lost wages, and a valuation of your non-economic damages. What you submit should include a dollar amount you demand to receive in full settlement of your claim.
Rarely will the insurance company give you what you demand. Instead, they will begin negotiations by coming back with a much lower settlement offer. You will respond by lowering your demand to which they will respond with a settlement offer higher than their last one but lower than your demand. When neither you nor the insurer is willing to move and you have not reached a settlement figure acceptable to both, you will be able to sue the negligent driver in court. The insurance company will have its attorneys defend the lawsuit.
HOW CAN LEGAL COUNSEL HELP?
Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O. will gather evidence and documentation, draft a settlement demand, and conduct all negotiations with the insurance company. Although we do all this work for you, you make all the decisions. No settlement offer is refused or demand made without your approval. If the insurance company refuses to settle for a fair amount, we will fight for you in court.
Say no to the first offer. Call today to schedule a free consultation.