After being injured in a car accident, some individuals decide to file and handle their bodily injury claim seeking compensation by themselves, that is without a personal injury lawyer. While an accident victim has the right to handle their own claim, many reports and injury claim statistics have shown that accident victims typically recover more financial compensation with the help of an experienced accident attorney.
In any event, if you choose to handle your own claim, you may come across a bodily injury adjuster who tells you that your demand is beyond their authority and makes a lowball offer of settlement. What does the adjuster mean when he or she references their “authority”? Let’s take a closer look.
First You Must Understand How Accident Claims Are Valued
Determining the value or worth of a personal injury case is not easy and is often subject to different opinions and valuation approaches. Personal injury attorneys and insurance companies will employ different methods of estimating what an injury claim is worth.
Generally, personal injury law is designed to compensate the injured party for the injuries and damages he or she suffered in an accident caused by someone else. Keeping this in mind, when trying to estimate the value of your personal injury claim you want to take into consideration general damages, such as the total amount of medical bills for related treatment, any lost wages or loss of earning capacity, any need for future medical care or treatment and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Once you are able to determine your damages and losses from the accident, you should be able to estimate the approximate value of your injury claim.
Insurance Company’s Range or Authority for Settlement
Just like you or your personal injury attorney will analyze and calculate an approximate value of your injury claim, so will the insurance company. A lot of auto insurance companies use computer software programs to evaluate your injury claim. These software programs will use different algorithms and mathematical calculations based upon different factors to provide a settlement range for your injury. The factors include, among others, the type of injury you suffered, the amount of medical bills, the length of treatment, and American Medical Association Guides for any resulting impairment.
Once the insurance adjuster is given their settlement range on your claim and they receive your demand for settlement, they will usually make an offer of settlement within the range (barring any issue with liability). They will most likely start at the bottom or low end of their range. Don’t be surprised if they begin with a lowball offer. Insurance companies are businesses like any other and are driven by profits. By settling claims for far less than they are actually worth, they increase their profits. Also, insurance adjusters know that most accident victims are in a financially tough position after an accident. This is because they may have lost time at work, incurred expensive medical bills and are generally frustrated with the whole injury claim process. They use this to their advantage and try to get an accident victim to accept much less than their claim is worth. Sometimes accident victims are desperate for money and struggling financially that they will take whatever the insurance adjuster offers or concludes the claim is worth. I know it is easier said than done, but you should never jump on the first offer and continue to negotiate for what’s fair.
For example, we represented a Marlborough, MA resident once, who was handling her own claim after she was injured in a car accident in Framingham, MA. She was rather upset with the insurance company’s offer of $12,500 and decided to retain us to help her. In the end, we settled her case for $60,000.
When you continue in your settlement negotiations with the insurance company, they will usually move up within their range increasing their offer. At some point, the insurance adjuster may advise you that your demand for settlement, or reduced demand, is beyond their “authority”. Of course, they will almost never tell you what their authority is or tell you that their offer is the full settlement authority they have. By doing this, they will most likely try to convince you that’s all the money they have for your case and it’s the best offer you are going to get.
Be aware, this is a typical tactic used by some insurance companies and their adjusters to try and get you to accept a settlement for less money than you deserve. If you have run into this situation, you are not out of options. You should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An experienced injury lawyer will be able to explain your legal rights and help you secure fair and reasonable compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered in an accident caused by someone else.
A Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve
If you or a family member have been seriously injured in an accident you deserve to be fairly compensated for your injuries and damages. You shouldn’t settle for less or take the insurance company’s word for how much your case is worth. Using an experienced personal injury lawyer has been shown to obtain more financial compensation for accident victims than trying to handle your claim alone.
The Framingham personal injury attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP will explain the types of damages and compensation you are entitled to receive, provide you with a fair valuation of your accident claim and help you pursue the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries. If the insurance company is not willing to offer a fair and reasonable settlement, we will take your injury claim to court.
To speak with someone on our legal team or to schedule your free meeting, please call (508) 879-3500 or contact us online.