Nearly all personal injury cases involve aggressive settlement negotiations with insurance companies.
To put it in perspective, if you get hit by another driver on the road, the at-fault driver isn’t paying for your medical bills out of their own pocket. Their insurance company is cutting the check – and they typically have no intention of paying out a fair settlement.
This is the most important reason why victims of accidents hire personal injury lawyers. Most insurance companies won’t even negotiate with victims unless they have an attorney representing them.
If you’ve been injured, your primary focus should be recovery – leave insurance settlement negotiations to the pros. In this post, we want to provide a glimpse of what this tense process looks like. Let’s get into it.
The strength of personal injury claims is based solely on the evidence presented. No matter what the circumstances are, gathering/organizing evidence and documenting all damages incurred is paramount to receiving fair compensation in insurance settlement negotiations.
Evidence plays many key roles in insurance claims, including (but not limited to):
It’s up to you (and your personal injury lawyer) to demonstrate the validity of your personal injury claim – and this is done with evidence. This is why it’s paramount to collect as much information as possible and document all the damages incurred.
In Wisconsin, there are several types of insurance coverage available to residents. Here is a quick rundown of how it all works:
Having auto insurance is mandatory in Wisconsin. Most plans include liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, along with options to add on comprehensive, collision, medical payments, and gap coverage.
Homeowner’s insurance covers damage to your home/personal property in the event of fires, theft, storms, etc. It also provides liability coverage if someone gets injured on your property.
Renter’s insurance is similar to homeowner’s insurance – it covers personal property damage and typically involves a set amount of liability coverage.
Health insurance – commonly offered through employers – helps to cover medical expenses, including doctor visits, medications, and surgeries. There are types of health insurance plans, including employer-provided plans, individual market plans, and government programs, like Medicare and Medicaid.
Life insurance provides a payout to beneficiaries in the event of the policyholder’s death – which includes wrongful death. There are generally two types of life insurance: term life insurance, which covers a specific period, and whole life insurance, which provides lifelong coverage and may accrue in value.
Disability insurance will replace part of your income if you become unable to work due to a disability suffered at work. This will come into play in a worker’s compensation claim.
Business insurance covers a range of risks, including property damage, worker’s compensation, liability for customer injuries on the premises, and professional liability (errors and omissions). If you get into insurance settlement negotiations, you will need to understand the basics of your coverages. In addition to:
This refers to the maximum amount an insurance company will pay out for a covered loss. Policy limits can be paid per occurrence (maximum payout for each event) or aggregate (maximum payout for all claims during the policy period).
In a Wisconsin car accident claim, the minimum liability limits are $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 for property damage.
Deductibles refer to the amount the policyholder pays out-of-pocket before the insurance company will cover a loss.
For instance, if you have a $500 deductible on your car insurance policy, and you have a covered loss of $1,500, you will pay the first $500 and the insurance company will cover the rest.
These may be specific situations, conditions, or circumstances not covered in the insurance policy. Before you sign up for any insurance plan, you must understand what is excluded to avoid unexpected costs.
Insurance settlement negotiations begin by analyzing the value of your claim.
Let’s say you get in a car accident.
The representatives will start by examining several different factors. They will analyze the extent of the damage to your vehicle – and the estimated cost of repairs. If the accident results in a total loss, they will examine the vehicle’s cash value for a payout.
If the accident resulted in injuries, the insurance settlement negotiations will become much more complicated. They will review evidence including your medical bills, proof of lost wages, the severity of injuries, and more.
If you are found to be at fault in any way, your claim’s value might be reduced – factoring in your contribution to the accident under comparative negligence laws.
Important: insurance companies are obligated to minimize their payout, by any means necessary. If you were injured in an accident, the insurance negotiation process will involve proving the liability of the at-fault party. You will need an experienced personal injury attorney to fight for a fair settlement.
If you’ve been injured – in an accident that was not your fault – earning compensation for your damages will require you and your personal injury lawyer to draft a demand letter.
This involves gathering all relevant information and creating a persuasive argument.
In a nutshell, you will need to describe the incident in detail, establish the at-fault party’s liability, and provide complete records of your injuries, medical treatments, and any other losses incurred (both economic and non-economic).
From here, you and your attorney will calculate a total compensation demand – justified with documentation. The tone of the letter should be professional, factual, and assertive.
It’s highly recommended to have a skilled personal injury attorney draft this demand letter for you. In most cases, you won’t be taken seriously in insurance settlement negotiations without one.
The insurance negotiation process calls for a great deal of strategy, preparation, and unfortunately, patience.
Heading into insurance settlement negotiations, you’ll need a crystal clear understanding of your policy. From here, you will need all appropriate documentation, including (but not limited to):
– Accident reports
– Medical records
– Evidence of damages, organized and accessible
The insurance company will likely start with a lowball settlement offer. You and your personal injury lawyer must be ready to discuss why you believe the initial offer is insufficient to cover your damages. In most cases, your personal injury attorney will manage the negotiation process.
But if you choose to be involved, do your best to remain calm and professional.
If you’re facing any extensive medical bills from an accident – it’s highly recommended to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. If you go into insurance settlement negotiations, they will play a crucial role in making sure you get the compensation you deserve.
They have a detailed understanding of the state’s law, experience in the negotiation process, and the skills needed to navigate complex insurance policies.
Now, you may be hesitant to hire a personal injury attorney due to fear of high costs. Good legal counsel is expensive – but the good news is you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket to hire a skilled injury attorney.
These law firms typically work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they make a percentage of the total settlement after the insurance company pays it out. They won’t ask you for any costs upfront. In other words, ANYONE can afford to hire an experienced personal injury attorney.
As you can see, many, many factors go into insurance settlement negotiations – and it’s no easy process.
Hiring the right personal injury attorney to represent you is the most important piece of the puzzle. They will handle all the fine print, negotiation tactics by insurance companies, and everything else to ensure you get a fair settlement for your injury.
The first step is scheduling a consultation.
At Mahony Law, we offer FREE consultations to injury victims. We’ll discuss the facts of your situation under personal injury law, assess your evidence, and determine the best course of action.
Call the office directly at 262-331-3553, send an email to email@example.com, or fill out an online form to start the process. You’re not alone in this fight.
Abby is the founder of Mahony Law and devotes her time to representing people who have been seriously hurt due to the negligence of others. Abby has handled injury cases of all types, including birth injury, wrongful death, automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents.
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