Personal Injury: In an Accident? Don’t accept scary offers from the insurance company
How to Avoid Getting Spooked into a Scary Lowball Insurance Settlement Offer
Accidents happen and they can be scary. What can be even scarier, though, is getting a lowball offer from an insurance company immediately after it.
A few years ago, a Di Renzo & Bomier client was given a lowball offer of just $500 as a settlement from an insurance company shortly after an accident. However, because that client had the foresight to call and hire Di Renzo & Bomier prior to responding to the offer, Di Renzo & Bomier was able to settle the case for $100,000 which was the insurance policy limit.
Receiving your first settlement offer from the insurance company may seem appealing, especially amid all you’re dealing with after an accident. It may be tempting to take the first offer as you watch bills arrive and are uncertain if you’ll be able to keep up. It’s why insurance companies offer so quickly after an accident. However, what if your injuries get worse? What if there are more expenses you didn’t see coming down the road?
Don’t get spooked into accepting the first insurance settlement offer. Use these tips to make sure you understand your settlement offer and get the money you deserve (your case may be worth more than the offer provides) to get back to normal without unexpected bills that you didn’t see coming.
What is an insurance settlement offer?
Insurance settlements represent the end of an insurance claim, in this case, stemming from an accident. They typically are a lump sum of money from an insurance claim or lawsuit that brings closure after the incident.
There are two common forms of insurance settlements.
· Lump sum: In a lump sum insurance settlement, accident victims receive one payout after coming to an agreement with the insurance company.
· Structured: In a structured insurance settlement, accident victims receive several scheduled payments that may vary in amount and frequency based on the terms of the settlement.
Most often, an insurance settlement comes from the party at fault’s insurance company. You’ll likely hear from an insurance adjuster prior to receiving a settlement.
If you accept the initial settlement, you give up your rights to further compensation. This could become troublesome if you accept a settlement too soon and experience additional medical procedures, more bills and a recovery that doesn’t go as planned.
In many cases, it is worth waiting until injuries have improved before accepting a settlement. For personal injury cases in Wisconsin, there is a three-year statute of limitations from the accident date. This means the victim (you) have three years to file a lawsuit and understand your worth before accepting a settlement. And remember, once a settlement is accepted, you can’t reopen the claim and request further compensation.
Why do insurance companies give lowball offers?
While there isn’t one calculation that fits all accidents, most often a computer-generated initial settlement offer will be provided—say hello to the initial lowball insurance settlement offer. While not always in the best interests of the victim, insurance companies try to give lowball offers to quickly close a claim, avoid litigation and pay out smaller amounts of money which, at the end of the day, helps their business.
There are countless factors considered when an insurance settlement is calculated such as the amount of coverage that applies to your insurance claim, the extent of injuries, current medical bills, future medical treatment needed, if the victim (you) can return to work, pain and suffering, and more.
Oftentimes, a lowball settlement offer is provided as insurance companies may expect the victim to accept quickly and settle—to take the money and finish the case in order to move on. Insurance companies also realize that the faster they can provide a quickly calculated settlement offer, the less chance the victim (you) have to seek legal counsel and fight for more money, which, in turn, drives their operating costs up.
It’s important to remember that not all cases are the same and your injuries are unique to you. Insurance companies may provide an up-front lowball settlement from a general computer-populated equation. The initial lowball offer may be considered generic in the sense that it does not factor in the specific instances to your unique case.
With expert guidance from the experienced personal injury attorneys at Di Renzo & Bomier, a more precise and accurate settlement can be calculated by providing medical bills, copies of insurance policies, receipts related to the accident and more. Legal counsel can help provide a strategy and negotiate your case in a way that works in your favor.
Tips to avoid lowball settlement offers
While insurance adjusters may try to get accident victims to accept initial lowball settlement, avoid being scared into these offers with these tips.
· Recorded statements - If you are unrepresented, insurance adjusters may use documented statements against the victim (you) by pressuring the victim for a written or recorded statement of the incident. Always consult legal counsel before providing a recorded or documented statement.
· Independent Medical Examination - An insurance adjuster may go the extra mile to schedule an Independent Medical Examination (IME). It is required that you attend this. However, be careful! IMEs are seldom unbiased as the doctor may be working on behalf of the at-fault party’s insurance company. Insurance adjusters will use IME reports to reduce the value of the settlement offer and potentially deny insurance claims.
· Lack of responsiveness - With lack of representation and a strategic approach to your case, insurance adjusters may purposefully be negligent on returning phone calls or even become unresponsive in hopes that the victim (you) will accept the lowball offer the longer the claim is open and doesn’t have much action.
· Discourage legal counsel - Be on the lookout! Insurance adjusters are well aware of the settlement process. They may even discourage the victim from seeking legal counsel by attempting to convince the victim that legal services are too expensive and too slow. Don’t fall victim to these tricks! Get the settlement you deserve.
You don’t pay unless we win
Having legal representation on your side shouldn’t be scary. Personal injury cases are often classified as contingency cases, which means there are no fees until an attorney helps settle your case. Upon settling, a percentage is then paid to the attorney. Without any upfront costs, an attorney—such as Di Renzo & Bomier—will provide the victim (you) with this contingency arrangement to help people afford legal services when they might have otherwise thought it wasn’t possible.
A personal injury lawyer at Di Renzo & Bomier will review the case in its entirety by reviewing evidence, pulling medical records, talking to witnesses if necessary and more. Upon understanding your case, Di Renzo & Bomier attorneys can make counteroffers to the at-fault insurance company on your behalf, helping you get the settlement you deserve. If an insurance company is unwilling to negotiate, your attorney may proceed with legal litigation to make sure the settlement is awarded in your favor.
Get the settlement offer you deserve
Don’t be spooked into a lowball settlement offer from an insurance company when your case may be worth so much more. Remember, in Wisconsin, personal injury cases have up to three years from the accident date to settle, but if the case is closed too early, it can’t be reopened. Avoid accepting the first settlement offer—typically a lowball offer—to make sure you have completely healed and you have a better grasp on the extent of your recovery in order to avoid future medical costs and unexpected doctor visits.
Accidents happen, but a lowball insurance settlement offer can be frustrating and further prolong getting you back to normal life. Get expert advice from legal counsel at Di Renzo & Bomier to ensure you receive a settlement that is in your best interests. Call (920)725-8464 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. We represent accident victims from Neenah, Appleton, Green Bay and across Northeast Wisconsin.
The content of this blog was prepared by Law Offices of Di Renzo & Bomier, LLC for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Offices of Di Renzo & Bomier, LLC.