If you have been involved in a car accident in which your car sustained damage, you were injured and consequently lost time from work, you know that you will have to deal with the at-fault party’s insurance company to receive the compensation you deserve. Here are some tips from Orange County car accident lawyers that can be helpful in dealing with the insurance company’s adjuster.
You are one person going up against an adjuster who has the whole force of a large company with substantial resources behind them. Orange County car accident lawyers emphasize that an insurance company is in business to make money and adjusters are rewarded for low settlements.
As soon as the accident was reported to the company, they begin to calculate damages based upon the type of car you have, the damage to it, and estimate how much medical treatment for the type of injury you suffered usually costs.
Based on these numbers, the adjuster will typically seek a quick settlement because waiting to settle will allow more time for other injuries to develop. Orange County car accident lawyers understand that a quick settlement almost never benefits the injured party.
You will get much further if you treat the adjuster cordially with respect. Knowing that the adjuster will likely try and low-ball you will make it easier for you to remain calm and not get upset and raise your voice. Orange County car accident lawyers will caution, however, that you must remain alert, observant, and pay close attention to what the adjuster says. They, after all, are serving the insurance company’s best interests–not yours.
Facts and documents– that is what will get an adjuster’s attention. Remember, the adjuster does this all day long, every day. To go toe-to-toe with a professional negotiator, you better be prepared. As you present your case to the adjuster, realize you’re probably not going to tell them anything they don’t already know. What you are doing, however, is proving to them you are an informed claimant, you know the value of your claim, and you are willing to battle to get what you deserve.
Begin with an overview of the circumstances of the accident. The first issue is liability. If it is clear the other party is 100 percent at fault, show evidence of that with, for example, the police report, and don’t fail to mention that you were following the rules of the road at the time of the accident. If there is any dispute as to negligence on your part, you are probably in over your head with the adjuster and should seriously consider retaining an Orange County car accident law firm.
Have documentation to support your claim for actual damages. If your car was repaired, have the receipts. If your car was declared totaled, you must show research as to what is known as “comparables.” This can be a major dispute between you and the adjuster, especially if your car was unique in some way. You will need some tangible evidence to back up whatever claim you make. The same applies to your medical bills. The more complete and detailed the medical records are the better. For instance, the adjuster may ask why you sought medical attention in the first place. The adjuster may try and suggest that your injuries are somehow related to a past injury or pre-existing condition and not a result of the present accident. The best approach to this is to firmly state that you are not a medical expert, and the doctor’s records should stand on its own merits.
Based on the nature of the injuries you sustained, you will ask for an amount for pain and suffering. Although pain and suffering are subjective and difficult to quantify, your medical file should indicate objective evidence that would support your claim and the treatment your doctor prescribed, including medicines and therapy.
In consideration of all these, you will need to make a final demand.
Don’t be surprised if at this point the adjuster cuts off the meeting and says they will consider what you have said and get back to you. This is a common tactic to break your momentum and make you believe you may have asked for too much. You can be sure their counter-offer will be lower. You should have a figure in mind that is acceptable. If they are being unrealistic, you may have to advise them you are considering hiring a lawyer.
An adjuster will often tell a claimant that hiring a lawyer will be detrimental to their case and it will cost them money in the long run. Nothing is further from the truth than that. In every kind of car accident case other than a minor fender bender with no medical injuries, statistics clearly reflect the fact that car accident victims receive higher settlement amounts when represented by counsel, even when considering attorney fees. Plus, when you hire a law firm, you do nothing but concentrate on recovering from your injuries; your lawyer does the rest. Your lawyer deals with the adjuster, negotiates the settlement, provides supplemental information as needed, and deals with the headache of it all; not you.