3 Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Scenarios
If you’re involved in a car accident and suffer from severe personal injuries, the last thing you want is to deal with an insurance company about your insurance claim. However, insurance companies usually don’t award reasonable settlements without you making some effort. You will have to negotiate if you want to get paid. Most likely, the first settlement you will get offered will be too low, it may not even be enough to pay for your medical bills. There are unfair claims settlement practices done by insurance adjusters.
Insurance companies negotiate all the time and are very familiar with this process. You, on the other hand, will benefit from the knowledge of a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with claims. Let’s look at 3 scenarios of unfair claims settlement practices so you know what you can expect in negotiations.
1st Scenario: You Decline the Low Offer and The Negotiations Continue
It may seem scary, but declining a low settlement offer usually ends in one of a few outcomes. The most common is that the negotiations continue. Actually, many insurance companies offer low settlements expecting you to decline them. They know negotiations will likely continue, but they hope you, the victim, will take the low offer.
Declining an insurance adjuster’s low first settlement offer can be a smart move, this is why what you do next is very important.
You can’t just ask the insurance adjuster to make you a higher offer. Instead, you have to prepare a rejection letter, explaining why you require a better offer. Part of this letter also should be a counter-offer based on the circumstances and facts of your injury.
Let’s say you owe $15,000 in medical bills. The insurance company first offered a $7,000 settlement. When you write your rejection letter you have to detail your medical costs as the counter-offer. Similar to a demand letter, the rejection letter also has to detail other issues related to lost wages or ongoing disabilities.
Considering your lost income and medical bills, a settlement amount of $25,000 is more reasonable. This information should be in your rejection letter. If your assigned insurance adjuster is doing their job well, they won’t take offense but will consider this information and explain if it changes their position.
The negotiation process involves a lot of work and you may not get the settlement you’re looking for. Unless the insurance company says specifically they are not negotiating any further, you should continue to press on. Continuing negotiations in good faith is a common result of declining an initial settlement offer. It can also get you to the settlement you’re looking for.
2nd Scenario: The Adjuster Does Not Want to Negotiate in Good Faith
The insurance adjust may refuse any possibility of a counter-offer. Many find this approach of “take it or leave it” a bit intimidating. Their indifference to your injuries is known as bad-faith negotiation and can really cost you money and peace of mind.
This scenario, unfortunately, leads many injured victims to accept the low initial settlement. No one wants ugly and extended fights with an insurance company.
Don’t worry, in this situation you are not powerless. You need to change your tactics in order to get the settlement process back on track.
What To Do If There are Bad-Faith Negotiations
When an insurance adjuster starts negotiations in bad-faith behavior, you need to write down everything. If you catch them taking a side or getting to conclusions about the victims. If you see them doing so, write it down.
Written notes about all of your interactions, especially phone calls are very important. If you have them, it means you have records you can use as references to show the adjuster’s bad behavior. These records can be used to take control of the process and demand it to be fairer.
These written notes have three purposes:
- They are an independent source of information from the adjuster’s file about their bad behavior.
- It can be used to negotiate with another adjuster in the insurance company. This way you can have another try at negotiating a settlement agreement that is fair.
- If everything fails, your written notes about an adjuster’s bad behavior can support a lawsuit. If you think you might be suing the insurance company, you will have to prepare even more.
3rd Scenario: Protect Your Legal Rights by Filing a Claim
Rejecting a settlement offer can result in a lawsuit against the at-fault party that caused your injuries, the insurance company, or both. In any of these cases, if it’s clear that you have to sue, you have to be aware of the statute of limitations for filing a claim.
In the state of Nevada, the statute of limitations can vary by type of claim, but it is usually two years from the date of your accident.
However, if the negotiations of your claim get stalled, you may need to talk to your lawyer to know exactly what the statute of limitations is in Nevada.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
If you do hire a personal injury attorney, you will no longer deal with the insurance company directly. The insurance adjuster may want to negotiate still but will go through your attorney once they know you have one.
Just because you file a claim, it doesn’t mean you have to take it all the way to trial. Actually, the majority of personal injury lawsuits settle before having to go to trial. Your lawyer can use this claim to conduct discovery against the at-fault party of your injuries and the insurance company.
If your lawyer can establish a strong case for you that can win at trial, this is a powerful way of getting the insurance company back to negotiating. The closer the claim gets to trial and the insurance company to a risk of loss, the easier it will be to reach a fair settlement.
Even though lawsuits can be a big risk compared to a settlement without litigation, a lawsuit can offer better rewards, such as a larger settlement. This can only be true to your case if it is determined by an evaluation done by your attorney
Don’t Accept Unfair Injury Claims Settlements in Nevada
An insurance company can have unfair claims settlement practices and will make you feel like you don’t have a choice and need to take their first offer. Sometimes an unfair settlement will look more attractive when you compare it to a fight with an insurance adjuster. The most important thing to consider is if the settlement offered takes care of you and your needs as best as possible. If it doesn’t, then rejecting it makes sense. This is easier said than done, so if you need legal advice, contact a personal injury attorney at J. Cogburn Law for a free consultation. Call us today at (702) 747-6000.
I was hesitant about getting a lawyer for many reasons, however the entire staff at J. Cogburn Law reassured me that everything would be okay. They were always very attentive and provided detailed answers to any questions I had. I would like to thank the entire staff for all of your hard work, making sure that my daughters and I were compensated for the accident, and making sure we received all the necessary treatment. You were awesome. If you need an attorney that won’t look at you as just another case number, that’ll return your calls/emails I definitely recommend this team.