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Is It Time to Settle Your Car Accident Claim?

Dexter Evans

I have seen the following scenario play out time and time again. You were in a car accident. You were injured and went to the emergency room. You were released and told to rest, take some pain medications or muscle relaxants and see how everything goes. A few days or weeks later, you are still in pain. So why is the adjuster for the at-fault driver’s insurance company calling you to try and settle your case?

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Many clients I have talked to over the years have offered a glimpse into the inner workings of the auto claim adjuster’s strategy. Initially, the adjuster is very polite and seems to care about your injuries and wants to make sure you get taken care of. They tell you to just send them the emergency room bill and ambulance bill, maybe even the bill for your follow-up visit with your doctor. “Don’t worry” they say, “we’ll take care of everything”.

But then you call the adjuster and tell him or her that you are thinking about seeking more treatment because the pain isn’t going away, perhaps even seeing a specialist. That is when your new-found caring “friend” transforms into Dr. Hyde. The adjuster might say that they won’t cover your additional treatment. Maybe they will pay your medical bills, but only a portion of them. Perhaps they won’t pay for certain medical bills at all. With that type of negotiation, you can imagine what they are going to be willing to pay for your pain and suffering.

You see, most adjusters take a strong-arm approach to negotiating with an injured person who has no legal representation. At the end of the day, this essentially boils down to “take it or leave it”. They might tell you that getting an attorney will just make things more complicated and that attorneys are greedy. What they don’t tell you is that it makes things more complicated for the adjuster, not you. The attorney’s job is to secure the full compensation that you are entitled to for your injuries. The adjuster’s job is to give you as little money as possible without having to involve (and pay for) their own legal counsel if you file a lawsuit against their insured.

Often I hear stories from people that they wished they hadn’t settled their auto injury claim so soon. They talk of the lingering effects of their injury and how they settled for much less money than they were probably entitled to. The pressure to settle can be strong, especially when confronted with medical bill collectors who don’t really care about the fact that you are waiting to settle until you have recovered from your injury. It is especially hard when the adjuster is calling you and seems to be practically begging you to take money. But stop and think for a second why the adjuster is so eager to give you money. What possible motivation could the adjuster have? Think back to my earlier statement about what the adjuster’s job is. To give you the least amount of money for your injury without you involving your own attorney or their own. The insurance company has all the motivation in the world to end your case early and close it out.

It’s not unheard of to have a claims adjuster calling an injured person the same week as the accident with an offer for your pain and suffering! This is often before they even know the extent of your injury and well before you are done with treatment. Don’t fall for that trap. If you have any question as to whether the insurance company is dealing fairly with you, contact an attorney who handles car accident cases who will make sure you are not selling yourself and your rights short.

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