Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC
Making an insurance claim after a car accident should be easy. After all, you’re hurt because their client was negligent. So, why are they lowballing you?
Unfortunately, insurance companies are in the business of making money. They frequently make low settlement offers, hoping that you accept quickly. When you see this lowball settlement offer, what should you do? Instead of thinking this is all you will get, contact the Ohio personal injury attorneys of Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW immediately.
How Ohio Insurance Claims Should Work
You exchange personal, contact, and insurance information after a car accident with the express purpose of making a claim against the other driver’s auto insurance policy. You may do everything correctly, from calling immediately, providing an official statement, and getting repair estimates.
The insurer should pay you all the money you need for your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. However, they will usually propose an amount much less than you expect or think you deserve.
Insurance Settlements Are Negotiations
If you believe a settlement offer is too low or know it will not cover all of your expenses, do not agree to it.
You do not have to accept an auto insurer’s settlement offer, especially the first one. Insurance companies want to reduce what they pay you. They will encourage or even pressure you to accept the first offer despite it being negotiable— they will not say so, but you have every right to ask for more.
You deserve to seek fair compensation for your injuries and know how they came up with their figure.
How to Recognize a Lowball Offer
Because insurance companies aim to make a profit, they will try to limit the payout after an insurance claim is filed. Knowing what a lowball offer looks like can save you from accepting a detrimental offer.
The Settlement Doesn’t Cover Everything
The purpose of insurance is to provide financial compensation to people experiencing unexpected expenses. To make a profit, however, insurance companies will try to offer a smaller amount than you may need.
After a car accident, there will be high costs. Insurance offers should cover several things, including current or future medical bills; physical and emotional therapy needs; lost wages or future earning capacity; pain and suffering; and property damage.
You may be getting a lowball offer if the settlement doesn’t cover most, if not all, of these costs.
The Insurer Presses You to Accept Quickly
Even though car accidents can cause damage and injuries in the blink of an eye, it may take weeks or months to fully grasp the extent of the damage. Medical professionals can require numerous follow-up visits to diagnose ailments accurately.
If an insurance company pushes you to accept their offer quickly, it could be a sign they’re afraid the costs may increase.
An experienced car accident lawyer can make them understand that you must thoroughly investigate your injuries before accepting a financial settlement, so consulting legal counsel before accepting any compensation offers is in your best interest.
A Low Offer is not Adequately Explained
There are many cases where the insurance company offers a settlement well below the policy limits and the needs of the victim. What is the reason for such a low offer?
It’s understandable to assume they need to reduce their costs, but they are required to act in good faith. Therefore, they owe you an explanation for a settlement offer that falls short of your policy limits.
If an insurance provider does not provide you with an explanation for a low settlement offer, you can probably assume they are hoping you will accept it and go away. Having aggressive and committed representation means you will likely get an explanation for the offer, or you can expect a fair offer for your injuries.
The Insurance Company Disputes Your Injuries
Any accident involving a motor vehicle like a car, truck, or motorcycle can leave horrific injuries. Even when harm isn’t considered life-threatening, it can cause you pain and disabilities for months or years to come.
An insurance company could be making a lowball settlement if they give an offer while also disputing the extent of a victim’s injuries. The insurance company doesn’t have to cover treatment for harm before your accident. Therefore, it’s crucial to document your injuries right after an accident.
To prove any injuries sustained in a crash, you should:
- Call your lawyer as soon as possible after seeking medical attention
- Write down a detailed list of injuries and damages you sustained
- Take photos of property damage and physical injuries
- Inform your doctors that your injuries were caused by the accident
The Insurance Company Claims You are At Fault for the Accident
Insurance claims in Ohio are affected by comparative negligence, meaning your claim could be diminished if you are found to have some part in the accident. If you’re found to hold more than half of the blame, you won’t be awarded any damages.
For instance, if the court finds that you should receive $100,000 in accident damages, but you’re found to have 20% of the responsibility in causing the accident, you’d only be awarded $80,000.
Insurance companies will likely pounce on the chance to reduce your settlement if they believe you hold some blame or liability. With the help of skilled legal counsel, you can understand the strength of your case. They’ll know how comparative negligence works, attempt to prove that you were not at fault, and fight for your total compensation.
What to Do After Receiving a Low Settlement Offer in Ohio
When you recognize that the initial settlement offer is too low, you should:
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been handling the situation alone, it is time to get an experienced personal injury lawyer involved.
Calculate Your Necessary Compensation
An attorney will help you thoroughly calculate your necessary compensation, including economic and non-economic damages. This includes everything from your current and future medical expenses to the mental anguish caused by the crash. An experienced attorney can ensure you understand your recovery rights and don’t omit essential elements in your calculations.
Decide on the Lowest Amount You’ll Accept
Once negotiations start, you should have a few numbers in mind: the amount you want to get and the lowest settlement offer amount you are willing to accept. Your attorney can explain what you are likely to get and an amount you should not go below.
Ask for the Driver’s Policy Limit
One of the significant issues with negotiating an appropriate insurance settlement is the policy limit. An insurer will not agree to an amount higher than the driver’s policy limit, which may be less than what you need. You and your attorney should find out the driver’s policy limit, which will help you understand the likelihood of obtaining what you need through the insurer or if you need to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. However, insurers do not have to tell you this.
Reject and Counter
As the official initial offer was in writing, your rejection of a low settlement offer will also be in writing. It will respond to each point made during the offer, including any findings that you were partially responsible for the crash. Additionally, you will use your calculations to provide a counteroffer amount and include arguments for why you deserve the damages requested.
Decide if You’ll Go to Court
A challenging part of insurance settlement negotiations is deciding whether you are willing to go to court to gain compensation. Likely, the insurer will not simply accept your counteroffer. Instead, they may return with the original offer or one with a slightly higher amount.
Your attorney can help you continue communicating with the insurer to negotiate an acceptable amount. However, if negotiations stall, you need to know whether you are prepared to fight in court or would rather accept a less-than-ideal amount.
What Not to Do if You Think You’re Being Lowballed
If you think you’re being offered a lowball settlement, you may feel you have no choice but to take it, especially if you’re operating on your own. You should take the steps listed above and remember you should not accept the lowball settlement as a “partial payment” for any claim. Accepting any kind of settlement will close your claim.
Do not give in to the insurance company’s tactics, no matter how frustrating. If you’ve been in any car accident because of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to receive a payment to cover the losses or damages you are facing. Although it may seem petty, fighting for a fair settlement should pay off for you. Find a dedicated accident attorney to help win your case.
KNR Can Help With Your Lowball Settlement Offer
Dealing with an insurance company after a car accident is never as simple as you need it to be. That is why it is best to call a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At KNR, we will explain your rights to compensation, recognize a lowball offer when it is made, and negotiate a better settlement for you. We will never pressure you into accepting an offer you are not comfortable with.
For more information on insurance settlements after a car accident, call Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW and schedule a free consultation.