Accepting the First Offer May Not Be in Your Best Interest
If you are in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you are likely to be offered compensation for the damages and personal injuries you have suffered. Insurance claims adjusters typically extend these offers on behalf of the responsible party’s insurance company.
But don’t accept the offer before you understand how they came up with it. Is it a fair amount of compensation given the circumstances of your case?
The Insurance Claims Procedure
A claims adjuster investigates how the accident happened, the severity of your injuries, and any other damages that may have occurred. He speaks to the insurance company’s policyholder, reviews the accident report, and finds out about the claimant (you). This last he does by checking a claims database to see whether you’ve filed any other personal injury claims, by interviewing witnesses about you, and even by Googling your name.
The adjuster then contacts your attorney to request documentation supporting the claim. He reviews what he receives to determine whether you’ve sustained any prior injuries, have been compliant with your medical provider’s treatment plan, and have claimed any lost wages in connection with your injury.
Once an insurance adjuster has reviewed the relevant evidence, he will put a value on your claim in light of the insurance company’s chances of prevailing if the case goes to trial and what a jury’s award would be.
To come up with a firm number, the adjuster will usually:
- Divide the damages into quantifiable damages like medical bills and lost wages and unquantifiable damages like pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
- Tally the total medical expenses related to the accident.
- Discount the total medical bills if most of them come from providers other than physicians and hospitals, e.g., physical therapists and holistic health providers.
- Use formulas and computer software to calculate the value of a pain and suffering claim.
- Arrive at a settlement figure and offer a percentage of the estimated final value.
The Advantage of Having an Experienced Colorado Attorney
Everyone has his own system of calculating damages. But many attorneys use a damage estimate worksheet to add up each client’s out-of-pocket or special damages, noneconomic or general damages, and other relevant losses like money paid to hire housekeepers, drivers, and others to perform the tasks that the victim can no longer perform because of his injury.
If an insurance company knows that an injured person has not retained legal counsel, it is likely to offer a low settlement. On the other hand, its initial offer will tend to be much higher if a plaintiff is represented by an experienced attorney.
The way that an insurance adjuster and an attorney value a personal injury claim may differ substantially. The initial offer is usually only the start of a negotiation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Colorado, contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation.