Often times people who have been injured in the collision call us to tell us that an insurance company has offered them a few hundred dollars to resolve their personal injury claim. They relate to us that the insurance company adjuster has been “really nice” to them and was helping them to “process the claim.” Most times they “haven't had any problems” and are just wanting to make sure the insurance company is not taking advantage of them.
Our answer, almost every time, is that they probably are. Insurance companies are in the business of making money. The larger companies in the United States, with even a small market share post annual revenues in the multiple billions of dollars every year. Paying claims takes away from profit and every claim they pay eats into the bottom line. Whenever an insurance company settles a claim, they are making a business decision that it is in their best interest to settle. If you have been injured in a car crash, the other driver's insurance company is not looking after your best interests. They will do things and say things and act things to get your signature on a release that is as favorable to them as is possible.
When dealing with insurance companies, especially the other driver's insurance company, remember these 10 things:
- They are looking after themselves;
- They are not looking after you;
- Except for in certain limited situations, they have no obligation to treat you fairly;
- It is extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to “undo” a settlement once it's done;
- Most of the time, earlier settlements are lower settlements;
- Most of the time, settlements involving car crash victims without an attorney are less than settlements involving represented car crash victims with an attorney;
- Insurance adjusters do this for a living. They handle hundreds of claims every year;
- You don't;
- Consultations with a personal injury attorney are almost always free;
- Personal injury attorneys do this for a living. They handle hundreds of claims every year.
Every so often, we do receive calls from accident victims who actually have received a fair settlement offer. In these situations we offer our best advice to them on how to settle their claim without hiring an attorney. Sometimes these victims still want to hire us just so they don't have to deal with the hassle of a managing their own claim.
Whether the insurance company has been easy or difficult to deal with, in most situations it's in your best interest to make sure the insurance company is not taking advantage of you before you decide to settle your claim.