Victim of an Automobile Accident...
I was run over while driving my motorcycle. The defendant ran a stop sign at an intersection and pulled out in front of the motorcyclist behind me, when trying to beat him she ran over me.
The insurance company just told me, 18 months after the accident, that they can only pay $50,000 dollars. I would think I should have been told this in advance. Why am I just finding this out now? What if I need more compensation for my injuries?
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ANSWER for "Victim of an Automobile Accident...":
From the facts you present it appears you may not have had legal representation. The bad news is you are up against experts who do this kind of work every day. Insurance companies are in the business of paying as little as they can get away with. Depending upon the facts of the case, including, but not limited to your total medical bills, or “Hard Costs," your out of pocket expenses, lost wages and Pain and Suffering, the offer of $50,000 might be a terrific offer, or it might be a ridiculously low one. Without legal representation it’s a pretty safe bet the offer is the latter.
The good news is you haven’t settled the case yet. The case is not legally settled until you sign the Final Agreement. If the offer from the insurance company was arrived at without any substantive negotiations on your part there is a very good chance you are being offered much less than you are owed. In all our years of practicing law we never once saw an insurance company pay what a case was really worth.
You have a couple of options. The first is to tell the insurance company their offer is too low. They may raise it a few thousand dollars just to let you think you beat them at their own game. They know if they do you will feel you have negotiated a great settlement offer and you did so without an Attorney. Hogwash!
The operative word when dealing with insurance companies and settlement negotiations is “LEVERAGE.”
Leverage is something a non-Attorney doesn’t have when negotiating with an insurance company. In effect you are negotiating against yourself because there isn’t an amount or “baseline” to base your negotiation upon. In effect you don’t know why you are bidding, and what to base your bid upon. So as you negotiate the insurance company pretty much sits back and has a good laugh, in effect watching you squirm while trying to be a tough negotiator.
You can continue to negotiate until you are blue in the face, but in the end it comes down to your saying “Pay me or else” while the insurance company looks right back at you and says “Or else what”?
Enter a reputable and skilled Personal Injury Attorney. She will take the case apart piece by piece and will be able to negotiate with the leverage only Attorneys have... TRIAL! So when your Attorney says “Pay me or else,” the insurance company won’t even think of saying “Or what”? That’s because they know “Or else” will mean the filing of a lawsuit which, depending upon the facts of the case, can mean thousands of dollars more than the $50,000 dollars you had been offered originally.
You should give serious thought to calling a Personal Injury Attorney. Most will not charge you a fee for an initial office consultation. After you visit with several of them you can either decide to accept the $50,000, or let your Attorney file suit to recover a heck of a lot more.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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