Is the insurance company offering me a fair settlement?
As experienced personal injury lawyers in Pennsylvania, we get calls from injury victims every day asking “is the insurance company offering me a fair settlement?” Although it happens once in a blue moon, the answer is usually “no.” Insurance adjusters are highly skilled at negotiating claims and convincing you that your case is worth less than its true value. Further, without an attorney, the insurance company has all the leverage. They know that you, without a lawyer, do not have any power to force the insurer to pay more than they’re offering by filing a lawsuit. Here are some things to watch out for in your negotiations and signs the insurance company is trying to take advantage of the fact that you don’t have a lawyer.
Four signs the Insurance Company is trying to take advantage of you:
Telling you that you don’t need an attorney
Insurance adjusters frequently tell people, “You don’t need an attorney; I’m offering you a fair value and attorney will simply take a third of whatever you get.” Although the adjuster might seem friendly and act like they have your best interest at heart, don’t let them fool you. The insurance company makes more money by paying you less money; it’s as simple as that. Why would you take advice from the person negotiating against you?
The fact of the matter is, a skilled personal injury attorney typically pays for himself in establishing the true value of your case and getting you paid what you deserve. The insurance adjuster doesn’t want you to retain an attorney because it saves them money.
It never hurts to at least sit down for a free consultation. Although rare, I have personally told people during a free consultation that the insurance company’s offer is reasonable and that it doesn’t make sense to hire me—it just doesn’t happen often. I’m always happy to sit down with people to figure out what’s best for them. If someone tells you that you shouldn’t speak to a lawyer, red flag should go up in your head that they’re trying to take advantage of the fact you haven’t retained counsel.
Making quick settlement offers within weeks or months of the accident
Very few cases are ready to settle within weeks or a few months from the accident. As a practical matter, a case should almost never settle before the full extent of your injuries is known. After a bad accident, it’s common for insurance adjusters to call you with quick, easy settlement offers, hoping to settle your case for pennies on the dollar. They want to settle before you’re diagnosed with something more serious that entitles you to more money.
Unfortunately, it is more common than you’d expect for serious injuries to go undiagnosed for months or even years after an accident. That “crick” in your neck could be a herniated disc requiring a fusion and discectomy and could be the difference between a missed week of work and a lifetime of disability with crushing medical expenses. Our office can help show you how to make the insurance company pay for your medical treatment so you can have a specialist figure out whether or not that pain is something serious. Don’t let the adjuster make your medical decisions.
Even though you might be losing wages and need money now, there are always more options. Don’t make the mistake of settling too soon. If something seems too easy or sounds too good to be true—it probably is. Our lawyers will make sure you don’t settle your case before you’re ready.
Telling you that you aren’t entitled to pain and suffering because of “limited tort” car insurance.
If you have “limited tort” car insurance, the insurance adjuster will almost certainly try to tell you that you aren’t entitled to money for your “pain and suffering.” What the insurance company won’t tell you is that there are a number of exceptions to limited tort. Although the exceptions are narrow and difficult to meet, an experienced personal injury attorney knows how to build your case and prove that you’re an exception to limited tort.
Moreover, there are certain things your own insurance company needs to do after you elect “limited tort” in order to restrict your rights. We know how to order the records to see if you truly even picked limited tort at all.
If you have limited tort, the insurance company is going to underpay you on your claim. You need an attorney to help you prove you’re the exception.
Asking you to sign authorizations for your personal medical records
Never sign anything without having a lawyer look it over. While it’s true that you give up some privacy rights when you make a claim, you don’t give up all your privacy rights. The insurance company simply isn’t entitled to blank authorizations to get all the records they want. They’re only entitled to relevant records. The adjuster is looking to get all your medical records from your past in order to look for that one time you complained of back pain in order to say that all your problems are preexisting conditions. In court, we call this sort of request a “fishing expedition.” Regardless, we can prove that the insurance company is liable for aggravations of preexisting conditions anyway. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.
When you hire our firm, we order and front all costs for obtaining your medical records ourselves so we can pull out things that are irrelevant and private. The insurance company doesn’t get to know about that weird bump or whether or not you’re pregnant—they get records on your injury.
Do I need a lawyer?
While this list could go on and on, those are four big signs that that the insurance company is trying to take advantage of you. When it comes to negotiating a claim with an insurance adjuster, the old maxim remains true: If you have to ask whether or not you should get a lawyer, you should probably get a lawyer. If you’re still not sure, call my office for a free consultation. I’ll show you what my firm and I can do for you. And if you want to hire us, remember that we don’t charge a fee unless we get you a financial recovery.