When you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to remember that insurance claims adjusters are not on your side. The adjuster is not your friend and is actively working against you to minimize the amount of money you receive. Working with an attorney can help you to avoid falling into the traps laid by insurance companies. Schedule a free consultation with Attorney Beverly R. Caruthers before agreeing to speak with an insurance adjuster.
When an insurance policy covers an incident, and a claim is filed, an “adjuster” (an employee of the insurance company) is assigned to investigate what happened and to figure out how much the claim is worth. It’s important to remember that the adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. The adjuster’s focus is always on keeping any payout as low as possible so the insurance company is more profitable.
While insurance adjusters want to pay out as little as possible, they also want to avoid a personal injury lawsuit. If a case does not settle outside of court, and the lawsuit makes it all the way to trial, the judge or jury will make a decision on who is at fault (“liable”), whether compensation (“damages”) is appropriate, and if so, how much. This is risky territory for an insurance company, as a damages award can end up being very high if the jury is sympathetic to the plaintiff. Legal fees and other costs associated with a trial can also add up quickly—expenses that don’t help the insurance company’s bottom line.
The insurance adjuster, then, generally has the job of getting the claimant to accept the lowest settlement offer possible, without filing a lawsuit.
How an Insurance Adjuster Decides on an Offer
In personal injury cases, insurance adjusters usually consider the same factors that juries would look at in deciding what the claim is worth. These factors include:
- actual expenses (i.e. medical bills) incurred, and those that will be incurred in the future
- lost income or lost ability to make a living
- “pain and suffering”, and
- other negative effects of the claimant’s injuries.
Some of these damages (those for actual expenses and lost income) are fairly easy to determine. Losses like “pain and suffering”, on the other hand, are much more subjective. Learn more about “pain and suffering” in a personal injury case.
Insurance adjusters also consider two other key factors: policy limits and the strength of the plaintiff’s case.
The policy limits.
An insurance company is never going to pay more than the maximum amount of the insurance policy. For example, if the at-fault driver carried $50,000 in liability insurance, the maximum the insurance company will ever pay out in connection with the accident is $50,000. If your damages exceed the at-fault person’s coverage limits, you’ll need to collect the difference directly from them.
The strength of the plaintiff’s case.
If the plaintiff has a really solid case (like a medical malpractice claim where a doctor left a surgical instrument inside the plaintiff) then the insurer is more likely to offer a larger settlement, because a plaintiff’s victory in court will be almost certain. If a plaintiff’s case is fairly weak, then the insurer is likely to offer much less, since the claimant is likely to go to court and get nothing.
Dealing With an Insurance Company
Once you have an understanding of how insurance companies work and the motivation of the insurance adjuster is, you can use that information to your advantage to negotiate the best personal injury settlement possible. There are a few key things to consider.
Think about hiring a lawyer.
This lets the insurance company know that you take your rights seriously and will be filing a lawsuit if you aren’t given a fair settlement. Your lawyer also knows how to determine what your specific case should settle for and can use her expertise to get you the best outcome. Learn more about hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Make sure you have clear evidence of fault and of the extent of your injuries.
Photographs, journals, medical records, and itemized statements of all bills paid and work lost are all essential to maximizing your recovery.
Consider sending a demand letter.
This is a letter in which you spell out your side of the underlying incident and state what you will accept in order to settle the case. If you send a personal injury demand letter, negotiations with the insurance adjuster can begin at a number you believe is fair, not a number the insurance adjuster finds appropriate. Learn more about when the adjuster must respond to your personal injury demand letter.
Spanish Speaking Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, Texas
Spanish-speaking individuals can have a more difficult time seeking justice in their personal injury cases due to language barriers. This causes them to not take action against those who have left them with financial devastation and physical trauma. At the Law Office of Beverly R. Caruthers, our team refuses to let a language barrier affect your right to justice and compensation. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident and is in need of Spanish-speaking legal advice, our team is here for you.
Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston, Texas
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident and suffered an injury, experienced loss of income, or are unable to work due to a car accident, you can benefit from the services of a Houston car accident expert in your personal injury case. Whether you missed work due to an injury or due to not having access to a vehicle, Attorney Beverly R. Caruthers can help you!