Don’t Settle for Insurance Company’s First Offer
Picture this. You’re just a couple of days removed from an auto accident in which you suffered serious injuries. You’re at home resting and the phone rings. On the other end is an insurance adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company. What should you do? Answer all their questions? Tell them you’re too hurt to talk?
Insurance adjusters have one role — minimize or zero out any payout their parent company has to make for your accident and injuries. They will try a variety of different approaches to get you to say or agree to things that they can use against you to minimize the damages that their company has to payout for the accident that has left you injured.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident and live in the Aurora, Colorado area or nearby in Pueblo, Grand Junction, or Burlington, contact the Gama Law Firm today for reliable legal counsel. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the process of making your claim to the insurers and dealing with claims adjusters. We will also be happy to negotiate with insurers or legal representatives on your behalf. We know all of the tactics that these parties use to reach their goal of minimizing liability and we will do everything we can to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Insurance Company’s Response to Your Claim
Insurance adjusters may try a variety of approaches to get you to accept a settlement that is favorable to them but may shortchange you in the long run. They may even try avoiding you and the whole issue altogether in hopes that you forget or give up.
They also may call and ask how you’re doing or how you’re feeling. If you answer “fine” or “good,” they can use that to diminish or dismiss your injuries as either less than you described them or as just downright nonexistent. We’ve all heard the Miranda warning on TV: “Whatever you say may be held against you.” Accidents are not criminal investigations, but adjusters will not hesitate to use whatever you say against you and your claim, especially if the claim ends up in court.
Insurance adjusters may also ask you to sign a release for your medical records. You should never do this without taking the release form to an experienced personal injury attorney for inspection and guidance. Giving them access to your full medical history can open up a can of worms in which they discover pre-existing conditions and other facts in your medical history that they may use against you in your claim. Which brings up another important point — don’t sign anything without consulting with an attorney for review and guidance.
In general, you should always be reluctant to provide more than just basic information. Leave your feelings and emotions out of any answer you give. Better yet, hire an experienced attorney to handle your claim for you and just tell the adjuster to speak directly with your representative.
Never Accept the First Settlement Offer
The adjuster may get back to you with a first offer to settle. Remember, settlements are like diamonds – they are forever. If your injuries return or worsen after you accept an offer, you’ll be out of luck. The settlement will have slammed the door shut on future medical expenses. On top of that, the first offer is oftentimes a low ball offer that they’re hoping you accept without negotiation. As with a request for a medical release, you should always take any settlement offers to your attorney for review and response. From there, your attorney can advise whether or not you should accept, reject, or submit a counteroffer.
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
Injuries can linger for a long time and require continued attention and treatment, but eventually you’ll have reached the point where essentially nothing more can be done from a treatment standpoint. This is what is often referred to as the Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). The physicians attending to you must make this call, not the adjusters or the insurance company.
Reaching MMI doesn’t necessarily mean you’re back to normal. You may still be suffering from pain and you may still be dealing with physical limitations that you didn’t have to deal with before the accident. It just means that every attempt at treatment has been exhausted.
This is another reason never to settle early without including provisions for future medical treatment and potential loss of earning power due to physical limitations. Once MMI itself is reached and you have yet to settle, you may have to choose between a final lump sum payment or ongoing benefits. Consulting with an attorney in this situation is absolutely essential.
Demand Letters and Final Negotiations
At some point, you’ll need to submit a demand letter to the insurance company spelling out the compensation and other provisions you expect in the final settlement. Most likely, the insurance company will reject, or at the very least, attempt to modify your request. That’s when serious negotiations commence.
Again, it is critical that you retain the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to guide you through this process — or better yet, carry it out for you — so that you can take your mind off of the legal challenges of your case and focus on your recovery.
How the Gama Law Firm Can Help
When it comes to first offers to settle, our advice is simple: just say no. It should just be a starting point, not an end point. As your personal injury attorneys, our top priority is to help you achieve the best possible result for your claim.
At the Gama Law Firm, we have been handling personal injury claims for a combined 60 years. We focus solely on personal injury cases because we understand the toll that a significant injury can have on your life, and we want to help you fight for the compensation you need to recover and get your life back. We know all the tricks and tactics that the insurance companies and their adjusters will use, and we will stand by your side throughout every phase of the legal process in an effort to fight tirelessly for the best settlement possible.
We pride ourselves on aggressively and successfully negotiating settlements, but if the insurance company refuses to deal fairly, we’re prepared to take matters to court. So if you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident in or around Aurora, Colorado, contact our office today for a free, no-pressure case evaluation. We would be happy to sit down and review the details of your case and discuss how we can help you seek justice.