What are your legal rights if the insurance company has offered you a settlement that will not cover all your expenses and damages?
If you have been involved in a car accident and have filed an insurance claim, the insurance adjuster will investigate the case and your auto insurance policy and provide an initial settlement offer. This offer is sent in writing and it will state the amount that the insurance company is willing to pay against your claim, which can be the total amount claimed, a part of the amount, or nothing at all. The settlement offer is forwarded separately for the damages incurred on your car and the injuries sustained due to the accident.
The Initial Settlement Offer
An initial offer forwarded by the insurance adjuster is generally on the lower side for two reasons – first, the insurance adjuster wants to save some money for the insurance company and second, the insurance adjuster wants to exercise authority in negotiating the final settlement. The initial offer is the beginning of the negotiation process and once you have read and understood the offer you have the option to accept the offer, reject it, or negotiate an amount that you consider appropriate. The most important thing to do at this juncture is to consult an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney about your case to advice you about your legal rights.
Is the Settlement Offer Reasonable?
Before you accept or reject the initial offer, it is important to know whether the offer is reasonable or not. This can be checked by knowing your claim. A reasonable offer should cover the expenses incurred, including medical bills, loss of wages, repair costs of the car, and additional expenses, such as a towing fee. If you have sustained an injury, you should have an expert medical opinion about your condition. If you recover fully without any permanent disability there will not be any long term expenses; however, if you have sustained a permanent disability or your medical condition requires long-term treatment, there will be expenses involved and you should consider those while considering the settlement offer.
Understanding the Insurance Policy
The next important thing is to understand your insurance policy in and out and the insurance rules in your state. The settlement claim will be limited by the upper limit of the insurance policy; hence, if your bills run higher than the coverage offered in your policy, the initial offer will be low. If you have sustained minor injuries in states that have no-fault car insurance rules, you will only be compensated for the damages incurred on your car and lost wages.
If the initial offer is to low you may reject the offer and be ready for negotiations. While negotiating, let the adjuster provide his next offer. Comparing this first offer and the initial offer will give you an estimate of the range to which the company is willing to negotiate. You can now give a figure towards the higher range of your estimate, explaining the reasons for the amount being claimed.
To learn more about your rights as a car accident victim, contact The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. at (314) 361-4242.