Should I Settle With My Insurance Company?

Following a car or motorcycle accident, or any type of personal injury covered by your insurance company, you reasonably depend on your insurance company to help cover the damages. Unfortunately, insurance companies will often use just about any excuse to not pay what you are owed, sometimes claiming mistakes on the application or other small details to justify their refusals.

Settling With an Insurance Company | KC Personal Injury Attorneys

At the Popham Law Firm in Kansas City, one question we hear quite often is, "Should I settle with my insurance company?" Especially in car accident cases, where the accident and your injuries were caused by the negligence or recklessness of another individual, knowing whether to settle or take the responsible party to court can be a difficult decision.If you were in an auto accident and you need a fair and reasonable settlement, don't immediately settle with your insurance company. Instead, make sure you have the legal representation and guidance of a top Kansas City personal injury lawyer. Call us now at (816) 221-2288, and in the meantime, you can learn more about settlements below.

How the Insurance Adjuster May Determine the Settlement Offer

Many insurance companies rely on a formula to initiate the settlement negotiations. One common formula in Missouri insurance settlement negotiations involves a multiplier and your medical expenses to come up with an estimate of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Next, this amount of non-economic damages is then added to economic losses, including:

  • Medical bills, physical therapy, ongoing treatment, and estimated future expenses
  • Lost income from work and lost earning capacity
  • Property damage and other expenses

It is important to note that Missouri is a Pure Comparative Negligence state, which means that your total settlement may be reduced by your level of fault. For example, if you had a 10% contribution to the accident, and your settlement is $10,000, the maximum you may be able to receive may be $9,000. For this reason, during initial negotiations, it's often a good idea not to admit to any liability.

Negotiating a Settlement for a Personal Injury Claim

At first glance, the settlement for a personal injury claim may seem substantial; you may feel excited about so much money essentially handed over to you. However, it's critical to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Will this be enough to compensate for damages now?
  2. Will this be enough to compensate for future damages?

Sure, the settlement may cover medical bills and other current expenses that you have now. However, a bodily injury may affect your ability to make income in the short-term and, in the long-term, to grow in your career as you previously planned. In some situations, you may have medical complications later on.Furthermore, negotiating a settlement for a personal injury claim means that you're giving up your legal claim, and so you need to calculate a reasonable amount of money to accept.

The Insurance Settlement Process

Often, the entire insurance settlement process consists of a few phone calls with an insurance adjuster. The process begins by completing and presenting a demand letter and supporting documentation to the insurance company.The first time you speak with the insurance adjuster, you and the adjuster will often discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your personal injury claim. Generally, the adjuster may then offer a settlement lower than the amount mentioned in the demand letter. After two or three calls of negotiations, you may agree on a settlement if it's suitable.During this time, you may receive a "reservation of rights" letter, which basically means that the insurance company is investigating your claim but reserving its right to not pay you anything if the accident is not covered under the policy, or for other reasons.

How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Claim?

According to the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, an insurance company has 30 days to investigate a claim (there are some exceptions, however).Furthermore, the insurance company will give the claimant the necessary forms and reasonable assistance for completing those forms within 10 days of receiving notification of the claim. Within 15 days of receiving those forms, the insurance company should inform the claimant regarding its decision, but not necessarily a dollar amount. The settlement amount should come at the end of the investigation.

Contact the Popham Law Firm in Kansas City

There are pros and cons to choosing an insurance settlement, and there are pros and cons to taking the responsible party to court with a lawsuit. For one, an insurance settlement is often quicker and less complex (legally speaking), but the settlement amount might not be fair and reasonable for the damages you incurred. For expert legal representation regarding your personal injury claim, call the Kansas City personal injury attorneys at Popham Law. Call today at (816) 221-2288.

Get the settlement you need—and the recognition you deserve.