Accepting an insurance company’s first settlement offer is a big mistake
Last week, I wrote about what to expect from your insurance claims adjuster after a car crash and I listed several popular and harmful claims adjuster tactics. One of the tips I gave was to expect your adjuster to try to offer a low-ball amount to settle if you’ve been injured in a car accident.
I cannot stress these two points enough to preserve and protect your legal rights after a car crash:
1. Speak with an experienced car accident attorney before settling anything or releasing any claims (the call is always free with almost any injury lawyer – so don’t fly blind).
2. Never accept the first settlement offer from an insurance claims adjuster.
I’ve spoken at dozens of seminars on how insurance companies process injury claims. Most now have computer programs and literally must follow a ladder of escalating settlement offers based upon aggregated data of previous injured claimants.
And as I’ve said before, most people recovering from injuries assume they will be treated fairly by auto insurance companies. But there is no bad faith law in Michigan, and no requirement that an adjuster act in good faith in making a settlement offer.
This has resulted in truly shocking real-life examples, such as one adjuster offering to buy a Buick for a family who just lost a loved one in a terrible car accident. In another real-life example, one lawyer in my own law office had a case with Dairyland Insurance, where the adjuster had the accident victim sign a total release and waiver of all of his No Fault insurance benefits, past, present and future. This all happened in the first week after the car accident, and weeks before the person realized how badly injured they really were when they weren’t getting better and called our law office to see if we could help them.
Another great example is with Michigan No Fault attendant care benefits (in-home nursing services). There’s no easy computer calculation that says attendant care is, say, $8 or $12 or $20 an hour. The reality is that most experienced attorneys who litigate attendant care cases can recover two or even three times an initial opening offer on attendant care.
Remember, you don’t have to hire a lawyer. You can just call and ask questions. A good lawyer will tell you if they think they can do better, and anyways, how can it hurt to be armed with knowledge about what you are truly entitled to?
It beats flying blind, doesn’t it?