How Insurers Determine a Car Accident Settlement OfferMay 18, 2021 Car Accidents
Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you’ll be shocked at how quickly the at-fault driver’s insurance company makes contact. They may want your statement or offer you a settlement for what you’ve been through. But how do they come up with this figure? What does it cover, and is it enough?
Before you make a statement or accept any offer, be sure to speak with an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney from Kisling, Nestico, & Redick. Let a lawyer protect your interests by reviewing their offer and helping you get the most from your case.
These initial insurance offers are usually designed to make your case go away for the lowest amount possible. But at KNR, we know how to maximize car accident settlements, so you get everything you need and deserve. Call us at 1-800-HURT-NOW today for a free, no-risk consultation.
Some Insurance Companies are Worse Than Others
There’s a phrase “the time value of money,” which means getting less money now might be the same or better than more later. That’s something insurance companies count on when they come up with a settlement offer. They’re hoping for a quick settlement at a lower amount will be acceptable. It’s up to you to decide what you’ll take, but we’ve found that offers tend to increase with some time and effort.
Insurers approach settlements differently. One may offer more while another will fight for every dime they can save. Some understand that making reasonable offers and resolving cases sooner saves time and energy, which they can use on other claims.
Fault, Policy Limits, & Exclusions May Reduce Their Offer
Who caused the car accident and how easily that can be proven are significant issues. Under Ohio law, if the parties’ degree of fault is more than 50%, that party usually can’t make a claim. If the insurance carrier thinks that’s you, it may offer little or nothing.
Your degree of fault, even if less than 50%, impacts what you can collect. If you’re 25% at fault, 25% of your damages will be deducted. This impacts what the insurance company will offer. The problem is that your degree of fault is open to interpretation, and insurance companies often try to suggest you may be more at fault than a judge or jury will. Having your lawyer will help evaluate your degree of fault and if an offer is appropriate under the circumstances.
The insurance company is only obligated to provide up to the policy holder’s limit, and it doesn’t have to cover an accident that’s excluded from the policy. So, if you have $1 million in damages but the policy’s limit is $250,000, that’s the most you’ll get. Insurance policies also don’t cover harm done due to criminal acts, among other things. If your accident is caused by someone trying to get away from the police, the company won’t cover it.
Insurers often try to use these factors to suggest you’re limited in what you can recover. However, in many cases, your injury lawyer can identify additional insurance policies and challenge exclusions.
Severe Injuries + Medical Bills = Higher Settlement
You won’t get a substantial settlement offer unless you’re severely injured and have high medical and rehabilitation costs. The longer and the greater your injury impacts your life, you should be offered more compensation. Your claim can also include emotional or psychological issues the accident caused along with its impact on your relationships with others.
Medical bills are used to measure the severity of your injuries. The higher your costs, the higher the value. This includes everything from the time of the accident to the projected future costs caused by your injuries. It can be the ambulance ride from the scene, hospital stays, doctor’s appointments, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, devices, occupational and physical therapy.
Compensation for pain and suffering can be based on the injury you suffered, what treatments you received, how many, and how long your recovery is expected to take. Your testimony, description of your pain in medical records, and what types and how much pain medication you use also indicate your level of pain. If you get emotional or psychological help from a professional, those records and bills should increase your claim.
Lost Wages Should Be Included
You should also be reimbursed for the time away from your job, including lost wages and benefits. If you are totally or partially disabled to the point you make less money, the settlement should make up for the money you’re losing now and lose in the future due to the accident.
How Strong is Your Case?
At KNR, we investigate every case as early and as thoroughly as possible. Evidence powers every car accident claim. The more and better the evidence, the stronger the claim, the higher its value. This includes who was at fault for the accident – drivers’ statements, witnesses’ statements, physical evidence, video of the accident – as well as how well-documented your injuries and other damages. If there’s not much evidence supporting your claim, the insurance company will offer less.
How Insurance Settlements are Calculated
The insurance company will put together a settlement offer based on your past and expected future:
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Lost family time
- Loss of consortium – impact on your relationship with your spouse or partner
- Lost income
- Lost profit – if you own a business
- Changes to your lifestyle
- Medical bills
- Out of pocket costs – a tow truck, repair or replacement of your car, crutches, etc.
They will factor in your degree of fault, the policy’s limits and exclusions, plus the strength of your case. They will probably make an early “lowball” offer to see if you’re willing to take it or leave out anything that isn’t as entirely documented as they’d like. They may also disagree with your diagnosis if their medical expert thinks you may have something else.
Let KNR Handle Your Claim While You Recover
One of the benefits of having an attorney in a car accident case is that we will do the work and deal with the insurance company, so you won’t have to. We will:
- Investigate your claim
- Gather evidence
- Provide it to the insurance company with a settlement demand
- Provide additional information or documents they request
- Negotiate a settlement worth accepting
While the attorneys and staff at Kisling, Nestico & Redick are doing all this, you can put your time and energy into getting your life back together.
Our car accident lawyers have helped many people recover damages for their losses. We can help you too. To talk to one of our experienced Ohio car accident lawyers and schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 1-800-HURT-NOW today.