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Posted On July 22, 2014 Personal Injury

Ask the Attorney: Insurance Adjusters Aren’t Friends and Fair Settlements Are Relative

Asker: Do I have to accept what the insurance company offers me for an injury claim? If I accept a settlement offer that doesn’t cover all of my damages, do I give up my right to pursue compensation for the remaining damages? How do I know if the offer is a fair amount?

Attorney: Choosing to accept or reject a settlement offer is always a gamble. If you accept an offer that you’re not happy with, you could be leaving money on the table. Holding out for a better offer could backfire and ultimately result in a lower payout if, for example, you take the case to trial and lose.

The uncertainty is why it’s so important to make the most informed decisions possible. The more you know about the personal injury claims process, the law, case value, liens, legal precedents, investigating claims, negotiating, and the likelihood of succeeding at a trial, the better you are equipped to make the right decision. The best thing a claimant can do to make their claim a success is to hire an experienced lawyer to guide them through the complicated process.

You Don’t ‘Have to’ Accept Any Offer You Don’t Want to

Insurance adjusters may throw around commands and jargon, but they’re not the authority figures they may pretend to be. They can’t “make” you accept an offer – but they bank on you not knowing that.

That’s why insurance adjusters make statements like “this is our best offer” and the seemingly threatening “if you won’t accept this offer, we’ll have to go to arbitration.” Insurance companies want to manipulate you into accepting the lowest amount of money. Once you do, you sign away any opportunity to try to get more of the money you deserve.

The Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend

When you begin seeking compensation for your damages, the biggest mistake you can make is to approach the insurance company as your ally. No matter what the insurance adjuster says to reassure you that the company has your best interests – a fast and fair settlement – at heart, the facts say otherwise. Every penny of your settlement comes out of the insurance company’s bottom line. It’s absolutely the goal of the insurance company to minimize payouts on claims, no matter how much you need the money. Claimants who believe that the insurance adjuster is a friend and not an opponent can easily be taken advantage of and lose out on getting the money they deserve.

You do need someone on your side, but you should only trust someone whose goals align with yours. The insurance company doesn’t want you to get the most money you possibly can, but a lawyer does. Personal injury lawyers get paid a percentage of what they recover for clients. The more money your attorney gets for you, the more he or she will personally make. The incentive is to do the best possible job for you, no matter what.

Deciding What’s Fair

Without knowing the details of your claim, no lawyer can tell you whether a settlement is “fair” – and without knowledge and experience, you don’t have the resources to make an informed decision, either. Personal injury claims are incredibly complex. Throwing out an arbitrary number without knowing all the facts would be unhelpful and potentially misleading.

To understand what a fair offer would be and make sure you get what you deserve, speak with a personal injury attorney, like us. If you already have an offer from the insurance company, we can tell you whether we think we can get you a better settlement – and if not, we’ll tell you so honestly. We don’t want to waste your time or ours pursuing an unrealistic settlement, and we certainly don’t want to you miss out on whatever compensation you can get.