Insurance adjusters are trained to settle claims quickly with the smallest payout possible. The best way to ensure you get the settlement you’re entitled to is to retain a personal injury attorney to deal with the insurance company. If your injury occurred on workplace property, while using workplace vehicles, or while carrying out duties on the job, you should speak to a workers' compensation lawyer. If you choose to settle your claim on your own, there are some important things you need to know:
A settlement check is only an offer to settle.
The check the insurance company sends you is not a definitive statement of the value of your claim. In most cases, it’s a lowball offer they hope you’ll take. Once you deposit the check, your case is closed and you will not be able to negotiate for better compensation for your injuries. It can be very tempting to deposit the check, but if it’s an inadequate amount for the expenses you’ve incurred you need to resist the temptation to deposit it.
There is a statute of limitations on personal injury claims.
Your one bargaining chip when dealing with an insurance company is the threat of a lawsuit. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for filing suit is 3 years. If you’ve been unable to resolve your claim with National General and don’t file suit against them within 3 years (from the date of the accident), you lose the option of filing suit and will be stuck with whatever National General offers.
If your insurance company advises you not to speak to an attorney, don’t listen.
The last thing National General wants is for you to have an attorney representing you. This makes it much harder to for them to get away with a lowball settlement on your claim. They may tell you there’s no need to get a lawyer involved, yet they have entire office floors full of lawyers looking out for their best interests. Your best shot at getting the settlement you deserve is with an experienced personal injury lawyer to look out for yours.
Do your homework.
Be prepared to explain the reason for your injury claim. If you can make specific points proving the value of your claim it demonstrates knowledge of the process and shows the claims adjuster you’re serious.
Do the math.
Save every medical bill, receipt for prescription or non-prescription medical expenses (braces, bandages), written repair estimates, mileage going to and from the doctor, and any other related costs. You need this to show the full extent of your losses.
Costs to consider when calculating the value of your claim:
- Property damage
- Car rental
- Hospital deductible
- Prescription drugs
- Chiropractic care
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Future medical expenses
Don’t be rushed.
Be prepared for the low-ball settlement offer your insurer will make. The ensuing settlement negotiations will drain your time and energy. Making the process difficult and time-consuming is part of their strategy. Don’t cave in to the pressure to settle, and keep in mind there’s a 3-year time limit for filing a lawsuit.
Don’t trust “sign and settle” lawyers.
A firm or attorney boasting about how many cases they’ve settled is probably a settlement mill. They’re quick to take their cut of an insurance payout and move on to the next case—regardless of whether the amount fairly compensates for damages, losses, and the pain and suffering you’ve endured.
Consider hiring a personal injury attorney.
Almost all personal injury firms offer a free initial consultation, ours included. Take advantage of it, if only to get a professional’s opinion of the strength of your case. A free case assessment will help you understand the full value of your injury claim.