Getting into an accident starts an insurance claim process that can be difficult to navigate and resolve. The process is made worse due to the fact that there are injuries to recover from, and your state of mind isn’t the best due to the disruptive effects of the accident. Insurance companies are aware of this fact and do what they can to get you to settle for less money than you deserve.
After an accident of any kind, you need trusted personal injury counsel to protect your rights and make sure the insurance company plays fair. Getting legal representation as soon as you can after an accident means you don’t have to deal with insurance adjusters, pressure tactics, and seemingly endless paperwork. Here’s a look at how an Indianapolis personal injury attorney can help you after an accident.
Why Insurance Agencies are Involved in Personal Injury Claims
People and businesses carry insurance policies to protect themselves against liability issues that can result in a personal injury claim. When you’re injured after an accident of some kind, you’ll file a claim with the offending party’s insurance company. The role of the insurer is to pay out a claim according to the policy that was taken out by the offending party. However, insurers try to avoid paying out a claim that’s in keeping with the types of injuries sustained, medical bills, and the cost of replacing an automobile or repairing property damage.
What this means is that filing a claim for compensation can become more difficult than it should. You’ll need the help of a personal injury attorney to negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement on your behalf.
Why an Insurance Adjuster Pressures You to Take Their Settlement Offer
The insurance adjuster is a representative of the insurance company and is the person you’ll be working with after you initiate your claim. The insurance adjuster will most likely keep a friendly and courteous tone with you as you work through the claim process, but they are not working on your behalf. They’re working for their employer, and their employer limits their ability to offer you a settlement. In fact, adjusters are instructed to pressure accident victims into settling quickly, and for much less money than they deserve.
The insurance adjuster’s goal is to get you to sign an agreement to take the money that’s being offered and prevent you from retaining a personal injury lawyer going forward. The adjuster is fully aware that your mind is unsettled after an accident, and you’re not likely to be thinking clearly. That means contacting you as soon as possible after the accident and trying to take advantage of your lack of clarity.
The Importance of Contacting a Lawyer After an Accident or Injury
Retaining legal counsel puts a stop to the pressure tactics used by an insurance adjuster. It also relieves you of the burden of negotiating with the insurance company and getting you a settlement amount that’s more in line with your needs. A personal injury lawyer takes over all the communication with the insurance company, then begins a negotiation process to improve the settlement amount that is needed to make you whole again. In the event the insurance company isn’t engaging in negotiations in good faith or is trying to run out the statute of limitations, a lawyer can initiate court proceedings on your behalf.
Retaining a personal injury lawyer helps you preserve your rights as an accident victim and puts the insurer on notice that you won’t be accepting a low-ball offer to settle. A lawyer can also take action on your behalf to force the insurer to cooperate and negotiate in good faith.
One of the factors that complicates an Indiana personal injury lawsuit is a law known as comparative negligence. Code §34-51-2-6 is a state law that modifies the amount of compensation for an accident based on the amount of liability both parties have for the accident. The law uses a 50/50 scale to determine liability. In the event you have more than 50% of the responsibility for the accident, a court can’t award compensation for your injuries and property losses.
For example, you were awarded a personal injury claim of $50,000, but it was found that you had a fault of 5% for the cause of the accident. Your reward will be reduced by $2,500, and you’ll get $47,500 instead. This is one of the reasons why retaining a lawyer is important for a personal injury case. They can present an argument that reduces your liability percentage and potentially increases your award.
How a Settlement Amount is Calculated
Settlements are calculated using a formula to arrive at a number that’s in line with the losses you sustained after an accident. The general formula consists of multiplying tangible expenses (medical bills, property replacement costs) with intangible expenses (pain and suffering) and any loss of income. The resulting number is used as an offer to settle with the insurance company.
You most likely won’t get the entire amount that’s being asked for, but you are more likely to get more than the insurance company offered. Negotiations are part of the settlement process, and a lawyer pushes to get a higher settlement amount on your behalf. That includes using the facts of the accident, your percentage of being at fault for the collision if applicable, and negligence on behalf of the party that caused the accident.
Why Your Case May Go to Court
The settlement process sometimes slows way down after you’ve retained legal counsel for your personal injury claim. The complexity of your case can play a role in slowing down the claim, but the insurer may try to run down the statute of limitations and prevent your attorney from filing your case in court. However, personal injury attorneys are aware of the tactics that insurance companies use to delay a settlement and are ready to file in court if need be.
How to Get Help From an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer
Call the law office of Stephenson Rife, LLP today to set up a consultation with a personal injury lawyer and stop the insurance company from trying to take advantage of you. We can help you get the compensation you deserve so you can recover from your injuries without additional stress.
Our personal injury lawyers are capable of handling most types of incidents that result in bodily harm or death, and we work hard to get you just compensation. We have over 30 years of working on behalf of the injured and their families throughout the state of Indiana, and we’re ready to help you.