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Why is my Initial Offer from the Insurer to Settle my Injury Claim so low?

Posted by Scott A. Staples | Jan 25, 2019 | 0 Comments

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One of the most common reasons given by potential clients for coming to see me is that the insurance company for the person or company that hurt them offered a ridiculously, insultingly low amount to settle their claim. “I'm not looking to get rich or retire on this…but what they offered didn't seem at all fair given what I've gone through,” is a common refrain from potential clients. And despite the perception pushed by insurance companies and their allies in the culture, overwhelmingly, in my experience, injured people simply want the offer for their case to fairly reflect the amount of damage and inconvenience wrought in their life.

Lowball offers from insurers are the norm. Often they come within days or a weeks of an injury (even serious injuries that are nowhere near resolving at that point in time), and don't get much better from there. They are made for a simple reason: because more often than not they can get away with it, and the company has no economic interest in paying a dime more than it has to to resolve claims.

The reasons insurers get away with it are multifactorial. Usually injured people have no experience in the injury claim process, and are hurting, anxious, and overwhelmed. They don't know what to do, or what comes next. They may think that they simply are required to take whatever is offered by the insurer. The inclination can be for an injured person to jump at the first bit of certainty they can grab onto, which may be money flashed at them by the insurer early on. The person may not realize that this early settlement will forever foreclose their ability to get more treatment, recover lost wages, or obtain fair compensation when the injuries don't get better quickly like they had hoped. They will likely have received well-meaning but badly erroneous advice from a friend or relative. They may be scared of talking to a lawyer. The companies are banking on all of this to convince people to give up and go away without ever understanding how to fairly and effectively navigate the claims process.

The short and simple answer to all of this: talk to a lawyer before committing to anything, whether it's us, or some other lawyer experienced in handling personal injury cases. In the case of our firm, the consult (or in some cases multiple consults) is free. We will tell you the truth, based on our experience and the information at hand about your case, about what lays in store and how to avoid a disaster. We will tell you whether we think you really need the help of a lawyer or not. If it's a case we feel we can help with, and you want us to help you with it, we'd be happy to be of service. The key is to act deliberately and with all of the relevant information- exactly what insurers would prefer you not do.

About the Author

Scott A. Staples

Scott Staples came on board in 2006 as a clerk during law school, and joined the firm as an associate attorney in 2007. He was made a shareholder in the firm in 2010. Scott graduated, cum laude, from Washington State University Vancouver with a BA in English, and obtained his Juris Doctorate from Willamette University College of Law, with cum laude honors there as well. He has successfully represented clients in a variety of different types of injury cases, including auto collisions, premises liability, animal attacks, watercraft accidents, and construction site injuries. He has appeared, and won, before the Washington State Supreme Court (Weismann v. Safeco, 2012). Scott has volunteered time for the past several years at the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Housing Justice Project. He has previously served on the new member and membership committees for the Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ), and has acted as chair and co-chair of the WSAJ Clark County Roundtable. He is a member of the Washington and Oregon State Bar Associations, WSAJ and OTLA (state trial lawyer organizations), and is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Washington and Oregon. Scott was born and raised in Vancouver, attending Vancouver public schools and graduating from Hudson's Bay High School. He enjoys playing recreational basketball and softball, skiing, and spending time with his wife and three children.

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