Settling insurance claims is something that a lay person will likely need to get expert advice about. Before you decide to accept an offer, it's a good idea to have an attorney review it.
Hiring an Attorney for Settling Insurance Claims
If you are looking at accepting a settlement offer for a personal injury claim from an insurance company, you may not know whether it is fair or not. It would be unwise to settle your claim until you know the full extent of your injuries and how much your medical expenses will be.
Damages in a Personal Injury Case
In a situation where a person is injured through the negligence of another person, they (or their estate) can make a claim for damages for the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Mental anguish
- Loss of care, guidance and companionship (in the case of losing a spouse)
- Damage to property
The insurance company may rely on a formula to calculate what they feel is a fair offer to settle. What the insurer considers to be reasonable may not seem like a good deal to the injured person.
Instead of simply taking the first offer the company makes right away, a better strategy is to have a second set of eyes look it over. You may still decide to take the offer and get on with your life, but at least you will have the benefit of having someone acting in your interests giving you advice.
An Attorney Acts for You
If you hire an experienced attorney to act on your behalf, he or she will step in and negotiate with the insurance company for you. At this point, any communication should be done through your lawyer. He or she will have reviewed your file and will be able to tell you:
- How much you can expect to receive
- Whether they would recommend that you take the offer on the table or attempt to negotiate a better deal
- How the insurance company calculated the amount they are offering you
- How much similar claims have been awarded in the past
The Multiplier Method of Calculating Damages
An insurance company may use what is known as the "Multiplier Method" to come to a dollar figure for your injuries. If you suffered soft tissue injuries, such as a whiplash, in an accident, the insurer will take the figures for your medical expense and lost wages and multiply them by three to come up with what they consider to be a reasonable settlement amount. Any out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of repairing your vehicle will be added to it.
If you feel that you should collect more than this amount for your injuries, then you or your lawyer will have to present that information to the insurance company. Keep in mind that the insurer is looking to settle the claim for as low a figure as they can. They have the advantage in negotiations of having expert advice on their side and people who have sustained injuries in accidents should have an expert acting for them as well.
Settling insurance claims, especially in a case where a permanent injury or a fatality has occurred, is not something the average person would feel comfortable doing. It makes more sense to hire an expert to represent your interests, and this means finding an experienced personal injury attorney.
You will end up paying attorney fees if you go this route, but this fact can be taken into consideration as the lawyer negotiates on your behalf.