Car accidents are terrifying. It’s even worse when there are injuries involved. These can be anywhere from mild to straight up life changing. On top of that, you may need to file a claim for your injuries when someone else is at fault. You need to be prepared to deal with the problem and know who is on your side, and who is not.
Here are a few keys to remember when you are going through the process.
- Have a Settlement Amount in Mind
When you get your settlement letter together, you need to have an idea of what you think your claim is worth. Before you meet with the adjuster, you need to decide a minimum amount which you would accept. You should keep this to yourself, though, and not tell an adjuster. This way if you are perplexed with an on-the-spot decision, you already know where your bottom line lies.
This isn’t to say you won’t have to make some adjustments, however. If something comes up that clearly makes your claim weaker, you may have to lower your minimum amount. On the contrary, if the adjuster starts near your minimum, or you find evidence that makes your claim stronger, you may find the need to raise your bottom line.
- Do Not Jump at the First Offer
It’s standard for adjusters to first offer a low amount. Sometimes they even deny liability altogether. They are testing to see if you understand what your claim is worth, and how quickly you might settle. Your reaction to the first offer should depend on it is reasonable but too low, or if it’s just a way to see if you know what you’re doing.
If the offer is reasonable, you can make a counter offer immediately that’s a touch lower than your demand letter amount. This shows the adjuster that you are being reasonable and are willing to compromise. With a little negotiation, you should be able to compromise to an offer you both find fair.
- Emphasize Emotional Points
While negotiating, be sure to mention any emotional points in your claim. Refer to any photos that reveal damage or injury. What were the consequences of the accident? Have they affected your lifestyle, your ability to work or your ability to care for your children? You need to take these factors and point them out in negotiations. They can make a big difference.
- Know When to Talk to an Attorney
If negotiations aren’t going very well, you may need to talk to an attorney. For one, you should consult an attorney if you are demanding compensation for serious pain, injuries or suffering beyond a few thousand dollars. An adjuster just isn’t likely to take a claim seriously if it is a high dollar amount without representation.
You should consider consulting an attorney such as those at SteffensInjuryLaw.com if you are claiming for future damages, such as future income or future medical treatment. You should also seek counsel if there is a question of who is at fault. You may need an attorney to prepare your argument properly.
- Know that it is You vs. The Insurance Company
The insurance company is not on your side. Your attorney is who you can count on. Essentially, the insurance company wants to give up on your claim or prove you’re a fraud. They will try to frustrate you by drawing out the process and denying or delaying medical treatments or property damage payments. The insurance company is not required to inform you of your legal rights and may give you misinformation.
The insurance company is also watching you from the time of your accident. They do so with surveillance, reviewing your medical records, and sometimes by talking with you or someone you know over the phone. You should avoid contact with the insurance company, and adhere to your doctors’ instructions.
- Know What Types of Damages You Can Collect
Before filing your claim, you should know what types of injuries you can collect. If you’re making a claim for property damage, you may be entitled to collect damages to your vehicle, and personal property damage (for items that may have been in the car, such as a laptop computer). You may also get reimbursed for a rental car and out-of-pocket expenses.
The insurance company will only reimburse you what has been documented, so you need to make sure your paperwork is complete. When it comes to filing for personal injuries, you may be entitled to medical expenses and lost wages.
- Listen to Your Doctor
If you have personal injuries from an accident, you need medical treatment. Listening to your doctor is the key to not only getting better, but making sure your case stays valid. You may be told that you are not allowed to lift a certain weight, or that you cannot work. If the insurance company catches you not adhering to these instructions, they will assume your case is a fraud. Insurance companies look for reasons to find your case fraudulent.
You should also make sure you take medication as prescribed. For instance, if you are prescribed pain medication, and you do not take it, then the insurance company will assume you are not in pain. The medication may have side effects, such as making you nauseous. Some people will only take pain medication for pain, instead of other medication such as muscle relaxers. These medications should be taken because they help you heal, and you need to keep your case valid.
It’s important to know what you’re dealing with when filing a personal injuries case. You need to know who is on your side, and what you are entitled to. Overall, you need to get what you need to help move on with your life. This can be easier for some and harder for others. Just make sure you find people who can help you through this.