When a car accident happens in the Tampa area, a victim who sustained injuries or damages will have to make a claim with their own auto insurance company, regardless of who was at fault, due to Florida’s no-fault insurance laws. When an injured motorist calls to file a claim, they will have to work with the insurance adjuster assigned to their case in order to pursue the compensation they believe they deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and other economic losses incurred in the collision. An insurance adjuster has several tasks associated with each claim, including reviewing the policy, researching and investigating the circumstances of the accident, and ultimately deciding on an offer of compensation.
Many accident victims automatically assume that an insurance adjuster will have their best interests in mind–after all, they pay their premiums and so expect the coverage for which they pay. However, it is important to realize that insurance companies are businesses and, like most other businesses, they are primarily concerned with their bottom line. This means that many insurance companies and their adjusters will find ways to limit liability and reduce payouts on claims whenever they can, even at the expense of some injured claimants. In fact, some auto insurance companies have been known to reduce or even deny completely valid claims.
This should have injured accident victims wondering: how should they deal with insurance adjusters to best avoid an inadequate offer, as well as how should they handle a situation in which an adjuster offers an insufficient amount or denies their claim?
How To Handle Initial Communications
It is always a good idea to be polite to an insurance adjuster, since the fate of a claim is largely in their hands. Additionally, if an accident victim is well-prepared with all of the relevant documentation in front of them during the call, they will seem more knowledgeable with concrete information to provide to justify the claim amount. Victims should be very careful when discussing their injuries and should avoid the following:
- Guessing at injuries if they do not yet have a final diagnosis;
- Underplaying pain or the effects of an injury;
- Stating they are “fine” or “good”;
- Discussing any prior injuries that may arouse suspicion and confuse the current claim; or
- Answer any questions regarding injuries or treatment of which they are unsure of the answer.
An insurance adjuster is listening for any information that can be used to settle the claim for less, so it is imperative for claimants to choose their words carefully. This can make initial communications stressful and individuals can mistakenly say something misleading without intending to do so. For these reasons, it may be wise to consult with an experienced car accident attorney who can handle these communications for you.
Negotiations With The Adjuster
It is always stressful when an accident victim receives a settlement offer far below what they were expecting or deserving. However, the first offer is not the final offer and there is the opportunity to negotiate for a higher payout. As upsetting as an insufficient offer may be, claimants should be careful to put their emotions aside and remain professional and calm. The more a claimant seems to be negotiating in good faith and not simply demanding more money, the more an adjuster may be willing to work with them. In negotiations, it is important to reference all of the documentation that supports the claim amount. In some cases, additional evidence of the extent of injuries may be necessary.
If an accident victim is not getting anywhere in negotiations or is not sure how to even start negotiating, they should never hesitate to seek assistance from a car accident lawyer in Tampa. Such attorneys will better understand how certain insurance companies work and can use different negotiation tactics to pursue the full amount an injured individual deserves following a collision.