How Insurance Companies Evaluate the Value of a Claim
If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you’ll likely want to file a claim to seek compensation for your expenses. Though this may seem like a straightforward process, it can actually be incredibly difficult and may take months or even a year to see any money. Furthermore, it can be hard to know exactly what your case is worth and how much you can expect in a settlement.
If you’ve found yourself in a situation like this and are asking, “How much is my personal injury case worth?” or “How much can I recover after my accident?”, you need to meet with a personal injury attorney right away. For legal help in Olathe, Kansas, and throughout Johnson County, Lawrence, Wyandotte County, and the Kansas City Metro area, give us a call at Adams Cross, LLC.
Not All Claims Are Equal
If you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, there’s a good chance the at-fault party can be legally liable for paying your damages. However, the actual dollar value of these damages can be hard to predict. Typically, insurance companies will look at two main factors when trying to decide how much to offer in a settlement:
First, they’ll look at your chances of winning at trial if you file a personal injury lawsuit. They will evaluate all the available evidence to decide whether it’s more than likely the other person will be found at-fault. If they are, then you will probably see a higher offer.
Next, they’ll consider how much a jury could potentially award you in damages given that the other party is at fault. Using this estimate, they’ll determine how much to offer you.
Going to trial takes a lot of time and money, and insurance companies don’t want to waste these resources if they can help it. They want to close your case as quickly as possible while also getting you to agree to the lowest possible settlement. Therefore, once they’ve determined the likelihood a jury would find their client guilty, they’ll try to offer a compensation package that would be equal to what a judge or jury would award. This way they’re moving on from your case more quickly and saving themselves countless dollars in legal expenses.
For example, let’s imagine you were struck by a car as a pedestrian and are now suing the driver for damages because they ran into you as you were crossing the street. At first, the insurance company may assume that a jury would find the driver guilty and want to award you the maximum settlement. However, if evidence later surfaces that you were texting while walking across the street and didn’t look to see where you were going, they may lower their offer because you could be found partially at fault for causing the accident.
Factors That May Be Considered
Personal injury lawsuits can be very complicated, and the insurance company (or judge and jury if it goes to trial) will look at several components of your case:
Your Actions: Even if you feel the accident was completely or mostly caused by the other person, your actions will be critically reviewed. This can include what you did or did not do to prevent the accident from happening as well as your actions following the accident.
Comparative Fault: This law states that fault can be shared between parties in an accident. Therefore, if you’re found to be 30% responsible for causing a crash, your total settlement will be reduced by 30% to reflect this.
Failure to Mitigate Damages: If, after the accident, you don’t take the necessary steps to mitigate damage, this could hurt your chances of a favorable settlement. For example, if you don’t seek medical help right away or fail to follow through with suggested treatment, this could be used against you.
Steps You Can Take to Maximize Compensation
Knowing how to maximize compensation is crucial to presenting a strong case. This should include:
Hire an attorney: Working with an experienced attorney is the single best thing you can do for yourself to maximize compensation. Your lawyer will know exactly what type of evidence and argumentation will work in your favor and how to best counter the arguments made by the other party.
Seek medical attention: Even if you don’t feel that you’ve been badly injured, you should always see a doctor. Some symptoms can take days or weeks to show up, and if you delay treatment, it could be an indication that your injuries aren’t serious.
Don’t take the first offer: Insurance companies will try to offer you a lowball settlement right off the bat, hoping you’ll accept. You should never say yes to this, and instead, consult immediately with your lawyer.
Document everything: Ample documentation and evidence is key to presenting a winning case. Keep every medical record and bill, as well as photos, videos, police reports, and witness testimony.
Look to Strategic Legal Guidance
If you’re interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit but aren’t sure how to start or what you can expect in terms of compensation, reach out to us at Adams Cross, LLC in Olathe, Kansas, for help.