How to settle your personal injury claim without getting taken advantage of.
As an Asheville personal injury lawyer, I deal with insurance companies all day, every day. I know which companies are reasonable and easy to deal with, and which ones are a nightmare and should be avoided at all costs. Insurance companies will assign an adjuster to your claim if you have been injured as a result of another person’s negligence. Insurance adjusters are not inherently bad people, but the fact remains that their employers are concerned about one thing: profit. So no, Nationwide is not “on your side”, and you are not “in good hands” with Allstate. As a result, your insurance adjuster cannot be trusted to look out for you, if you’ve been injured as a result of a car crash or accident. Here some ways to avoid getting taken advantage of by an adjuster.
Although lawyers are the ones with the reputation of being ambulance chasers, in reality, nearly all of my clients will have received a phone call from an insurance agent within 24 hours of a car crash. I’ve had clients who received calls from the insurance adjuster while still in the hospital. I’ve even had clients who receive calls from insurance adjuster while still en route to a hospital. Why do they call so soon afterward? For one thing, they have an obligation to investigate and make a decision about whether they will pay for the crash. But they also want to know if they have any reason to deny liability; simply put, they want to know if they can avoid paying you anything for your injuries and medical bills. In North Carolina, because of something called contributory negligence, you can unknowingly say something to an insurance adjuster that will sink your case before it even begins. In short, if you contribute to the car crash in any way, even 1%, you cannot recover anything for your injuries, even if the crash was the other person’s fault. Insurance adjusters call you immediately afterward and try to record you saying something that will trigger contributory negligence so they can deny your claim. Don’t talk to them and give them the chance.
Seek immediate medical treatment and follow your doctor’s orders.
Insurance adjusters will refuse to pay for any medical treatment if you do not go to the doctor. Their position is that if you don’t go see a doctor, you must not be hurt. Get evaluated by EMS at the scene of the crash; Go to the Emergency Room or a clinic; Follow up with a specialist or your family doctor. Many of my clients are the kind of people who get injured and they stay home and hope that it gets better on its own. After a week or two, they finally go see a doctor. The insurance adjuster will always respond the same way: “if you were injured, why didn’t you go to the doctor?”. Get medical treatment so that there is a medical record of your injury that you can use to prove your injuries to the insurance adjuster.
Be sure to take pictures of all the vehicles involved, even if the insurance company has admitted it wasn’t your fault. You can use these pictures to show how serious the crash was to support the severity of your injuries. Obtain witness statements (including their contact info) from anyone who saw the crash or anyone who saw how injured you were after the crash. This may include EMS personnel or police. Obtain a copy of the police accident report that proves exactly what happened and who was involved.
Be professional, and firm with the adjuster.
Let the adjuster know that you understand that your claim is a business transaction. Avoid complaining too much and whining about your injuries, no matter how serious they are. Your complaints will have no effect on an adjuster. Instead of talking on the phone, write letters to the insurance company. This leaves a documentation trail in your file that the adjuster cannot hide from. It also forces the adjuster to write you, which also leaves a documentation trail. Give deadlines. Tell the adjuster, “if you do not respond to my settlement demand by 5pm next Friday, the offer will end and I will seek legal counsel.” Giving deadlines, and sticking to them, will let the adjuster know that you are to be taken seriously.
The value of your personal injury claim boils down to how much a jury in your county would award you for having been through what you’re going through. You should at least talk to a personal injury lawyer about the value of your claim before you settle. If your case is complicated, you will need a lawyer to help you settle your claim. Understand that settling a claim is not a way to make money. It is a way to be compensated for your medical bills and pain and suffering. For more information read our blog titled: Are personal injury settlements taxable?
If you have any question about how to handle a personal injury claim, contact Asheville Personal Injury Lawyer Lakota Denton today.
Attorney Lakota R. Denton is a Personal Injury Lawyer in Asheville, NC who proudly assists clients that have been injured through no fault of their own, or due to someone else’s negligence. A graduate of the New England College of Law, Lakota is a recipient of the 2014 “top 40 under 40” award from the National Association of Trial Lawyers and is a member of The North Carolina Advocates for Justice. Lakota and his staff are committed to helping people get the care they need and the compensation they deserve. For more information, contact our office.