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Don't Take The Insurance Company’s First Offer

Kies Law LLC July 21, 2022

According to the website Drive Safe Alabama, a traffic accident occurs every 3 minutes and 55 seconds, and for each fatality – 932 in 2020 – there are 40 injuries among drivers and passengers. Further, while 75 percent of all vehicular crashes occur in urban environments in Alabama, 62 percent of all fatalities occur in rural areas.

Alabama is an at-fault auto insurance state, which means that the driver who causes your injuries is responsible for compensating you for losses associated with your accident, either personally or through their insurance, or perhaps a combination if you file a lawsuit.

Beware of dealing with insurance companies, however. They use every trick and device in their arsenal of negotiation tactics to lowball or even deny the settlement you’re due. Also, be aware that your injuries may linger longer than you initially think, and if you accept a settlement too early and your injuries resurface, you cannot ask for more.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident in Birmingham, Alabama, contact the car accident and personal injury at Kies Law LLC. Our team is experienced in all aspects of Alabama’s accident, personal injury, and auto insurance laws and will attempt to obtain the just compensation due. We also proudly serve the communities of Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Hoover, and Bessemer, Alabama. 

Insurers and Their Response to Your Claim

The first thing to remember is that insurance companies are for-profit entities, and it is in their best interest to keep what they call their “exposure” to liability claims as low as possible. To help achieve this, they hire professionally trained claims adjusters to deal with you and your claim for injuries and property damage.

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you can file a claim with your insurance carrier, who will then seek a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer. You can also file directly with the other driver’s insurance company. In either case, the at-fault insurance company will put a claims adjuster in contact with you to sort out the details. The adjuster will try to get you to say or do something they can use to pin the fault on you or at least diminish the scope of your claim to lower their settlement responsibility.

For instance, the claims adjuster may start the conversation by asking how you’re doing. They’re just being nice and respectful, right? Wrong. If you answer “fine” or “good,” they’ll note that as an indication that you’re not as injured as you claim to be, and worse, you may be trying to exaggerate your injuries or even manufacture them out of thin air.

This is probably reason number one why you should have a skilled and experienced car accident attorney handle the claims adjuster for you.

Reasons to Refuse the First Offer

The insurance company, directly through you or your attorney, will inevitably submit a first settlement offer well below what your injuries and losses will eventually amount to. It’s almost never to your advantage to accept the first offer. It’s probably as low as it can go, in popular parlance.

Injuries don’t always disappear, and you can have side effects that can appear over time. You may feel as if you’re pretty much back to normal when your injuries are going to be with you for weeks, months, or longer into the future. If you settle too quickly, future medical and other expenses associated with your injuries will not be covered.

The Point of Maximum Medical Improvement

Maximum medical improvement (MMI) refers to the point in your recovery from injuries in which medical treatment is no longer going to reduce your symptoms or make you better, but this doesn’t mean you won’t have ongoing treatment expenses to keep you going at an acceptable physical level.

For instance, the back injury that once prevented you from leaning over or picking up anything without pain may now have reached the point that you can do those routines, but the pain still accompanies the actions. You may still require physical therapy going forward.

MMI is the point at which you should consider accepting an insurance company’s offer of settlement, but even then, you must factor into the settlement the future costs of treatment, other associated expenses, and lost wages if you cannot work at your normal level.

The Role of the Demand Letter

If you receive an offer from your insurance company, whether it’s the first or a subsequent one, and you feel it is insufficient and/or that you will have future expenses to be covered, you should prepare a demand letter to the insurer. Your demand letter needs to spell out in detail the extent and projected length of your injuries, as well as a compensatory figure that will cover your ongoing recovery or return to a new normal.

What follows will probably be back-and-forth negotiations, which is why having an attorney experienced in dealing with insurance companies and their adjusters can prove invaluable.

Get the Settlement You Deserve

Our attorney understands the ins and outs of how the big insurers and their claims adjusters operate. Don’t face these challenges alone. You’ll put yourself and your claim in jeopardy.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicular accident in Birmingham, Alabama, contact Kies Law LLC immediately for a free consultation. We will be happy to deal with the insurers directly and attempt to fight for the compensation you deserve, and if push comes to shove, we can file a personal injury lawsuit for you to hold the at-fault party responsible. We proudly serve clients in Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Hoover, and Bessemer, Alabama.