Interacting With Insurance Company Adjusters: Answers To Frequently Asked Questions
While car accidents take many forms, two things never change: They are never expected, and they are always disorienting. You may not know who you should talk to or what steps to take in during the aftermath of a crash. Unfortunately, a small mistake after a car crash can have a significant physical and financial impact on your life. This is especially true when you interact with an insurance adjuster.
Insurance companies are only profitable if they take in more payments than they pay out. Therefore, the insurer may try to lowball your settlement offer after a crash or outright reject your claim. At Lindner Law, LLC, our attorneys have decades of personal injury experience. We will handle your case from start to finish and fight the insurance company to make sure you get the maximum compensation you deserve, instead of getting taken advantage of if you attempt to settle on your own.
Read answers to commonly asked questions about interacting with insurance companies below. Then, call our Milwaukee office at 414-488-6870 or 888-217-1625 to schedule a free case consultation where we can discuss the details of your case. You can also choose to contact our firm online.
Do I Have Any Options Other Than Filing A Claim With My Insurer?
In Wisconsin, you would first look to make what is known as a “third-party” claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You would only have to make a claim with your insurer (known as a “first-party” claim) if the at-fault driver does not have insurance, under the “uninsured motorist” coverage of your policy.
There may be other claims that you may wish to make under your own policy, such as coverage for medical bills and damage to your vehicle. Disputes frequently arise early on as to who is responsible for paying your medical bills and how much your car is worth. In some cases, it may be advantageous for you to have your own insurance company resolve the vehicle damage portion of your case. These are just some of the many reasons why it is critical that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you with your case immediately following the accident.
Do I Have To Call My Insurance Company After An Accident?
Yes, you must timely inform your insurance of any accidents involving property damage or injuries so that they may investigate the accident. You should be prepared to tell the person you speak with the general facts of how the accident happened and whether you suffered any injuries. Remember, the nature and severity of your injuries may take days or even weeks to set in after a car accident, so you never want to state that you were not injured when speaking to any insurance company representative shortly after the accident.
It is always a good idea to hire an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident so that they can speak to your insurer on your behalf. This will prevent you from saying anything that could inadvertently harm your claim.
Do I Have To Speak With The At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company?
NO! We strongly recommend that you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer so as not to jeopardize your case. If you receive a call from an adjuster for the at-fault party’s insurance company before hiring a lawyer, you are not required to speak with them. No matter what they may tell you, they are not looking out for your best interests. In fact, they are beginning the process of attempting to limit your claim by getting you to say things that may hurt your claim later on, such as getting you to admit some degree of fault in the accident or minimizing your injuries. We highly recommend that you politely tell the adjuster that you are not comfortable talking with anyone until you consult a lawyer. Once you retain an experienced personal injury law firm such as Lindner Law, LLC, your law firm will speak to the at-fault insurance company’s adjuster on your behalf.
However, if you decide to initially pursue a claim without a lawyer, you will have to set up a claim on your own. You will have to inform the at-fault company of the general facts surrounding the accident so that they may properly investigate it. You should also generally let them know that you were injured and are receiving medical care for your injuries. Do not provide any other specific details about your injuries during the initial claim reporting process. Never state that you were not injured, and never admit that you were in any way at fault. Do not agree to a recorded statement as part of this initial claims process or any time after that, and do not sign any medical authorizations that they may send you in the mail.
What Does The Insurance Company Do After You Report An Accident?
The insurance company will carefully investigate your accident claim to ensure its legitimacy and ultimately to determine a settlement offer. They will evaluate multiple items, including:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Your account of the crash
- Police reports
- Your insurance claim history
- Your background
- Proof of your earnings
- Tax returns
How Do Insurance Companies Calculate Their Settlement Offers?
An insurance claims adjuster will present a settlement offer after investigating the accident, your injuries and other damages. The total settlement offer will generally consist of your past and future medical bills, past and future wage loss, and past and future pain and suffering. Once the adjuster accounts for all these variables, he/she will then contact you with an initial settlement offer.
There is no single mathematical formula used to determine the settlement amount, which can make it difficult for accident victims to know whether they are being offered fair compensation. Suffice it to say that the adjuster will not present you with their “best” offer initially and will attempt to get you to settle for less than the true value of your claim.
A skilled personal injury attorney will work hard on your behalf to position your case for maximum compensation. That may include such things as obtaining expert medical opinions and reports on your behalf and crafting legal arguments to minimize any alleged fault on your part, which all serve to enhance the value of your case. Rather than simply accepting what the adjuster is “offering” to you if you try to settle on your own, an experienced personal injury attorney will dictate to the adjuster what your case is actually worth supported by medical evidence and legal proof.
How Much Should I Settle For After A Car Accident?
There is no benchmark to determine whether your insurer’s offered settlement is fair. The offer will greatly vary based on the severity of your injuries, incurred medical costs, possible permanent disabilities, loss of earning potential and more. You should have a skilled personal injury attorney at Lindner Law, LLC, evaluate all settlement offers before you accept or deny them. Your lawyer can advise whether it is in your best interest to accept the offer.
If I Already Cashed My Settlement Check, Can I Still Pursue More Compensation?
Unfortunately, no. You only have one opportunity to settle your case because the insurance company will require you to sign a release in exchange for any settlement. Once you sign the release and cash the check, your claim is extinguished, and you can never go back and ask for more. That is why it is so important to not accept a settlement offer before your injuries are fully healed, and you are no longer seeking medical care.
What Happens If You Don’t Accept The Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer?
If the insurance adjuster fails to offer an acceptable settlement, you can choose to file a personal injury claim in court to recover the compensation you deserve. If you are seeking more than $5,000, you will have to hire a lawyer to file the claim in Circuit Court. The attorneys at Lindner Law, LLC can review your claim and advise you whether a lawsuit is advisable in your case. If so, we will file the lawsuit on your behalf and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.