How do insurance companies determine how much to settle my car or truck accident case?
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South Carolina Truck Accident and Car Accident Insurance Settlements
If you’ve been injured in a car wreck or truck accident, you’ll may be surprised at how quickly the at-fault driver’s insurance company makes contact and tries to get you to settle the case. They may want your statement or offer you a settlement for what you’ve been through. But how do they come up with this figure? What does it cover, and is it enough?
Before you make a statement or accept any offer, be sure to speak with an experienced South Carolina or North Carolina personal injury attorney from Keibler Law Group. Chase Keibler has experience representing both people injured in car accidents and truck wrecks as well as the insurance companies. He gained valuable experience working directly with insurance companies and adjusters and knows how they think, value, and approach cases. Unfortunately, many of the insurance adjusters and companies are out of touch – they fail to sympathize, to calculate enduring costs, and to personalize the approach. Quite the opposite, the insurance companies look at you as data – they see you pay your premiums and see you as a number. Ideally – a high premium and low pay out number. We see you differently. Let a lawyer protect your interests by reviewing their offer and helping you get the most compensation for your case.
These initial insurance offers are usually designed to make your case go away for the lowest amount possible. But at Keibler Law Group, we know how to maximize car accident and truck accident settlements, so you get everything you need and deserve.
Insurance is as insurance does
After you get in a car accident or truck accident, insurance companies wants two things – to get settle the case as quickly as possible for as little money as possible. That’s something insurance companies count on when they come up with a settlement offer. They’re hoping for a quick settlement at a lower amount will be acceptable. It’s up to you to decide what you’ll take, but we’ve found that offers tend to increase with some time and effort.
Insurance companies and adjusters all approach settlements differently. One may offer more while another will fight for every dime they can save. Some have different ways they “calculate” your damages. Others will critique the costs your medical providers charged and will, therefore, only offer to pay you less. Some understand that making reasonable offers and resolving cases sooner saves time and energy, which they can use on other claims. Remember, your best interest is not their best interest.
Fault, policy limits, & exclusions may reduce their settlement offer
Who caused the car accident and how easily that can be proven are significant issues. Under South Carolina law, if your degree of fault is more than 50%, you usually cannot make a claim. If the insurance carrier thinks you are more than 50% at fault for the accident, it may offer little or nothing.
In South Carolina, your degree of fault, even if less than 50%, impacts what you can collect. If you’re 25% at fault, 25% of your damages will be deducted. This also impacts what the insurance company will offer. The problem is that your degree of fault is open to interpretation, and insurance companies often try to suggest you may be more at fault than a judge or jury will. Having an experienced lawyer to evaluate your case will help you determine how the insurance company is attributing fault and if the offer the insurance company provided is appropriate.
In addition, the insurance company is only obligated to provide up to the policy holder’s limit, and it doesn’t have to cover an accident that’s excluded from the policy. So, if you have $1 million in damages but the policy’s limit is $250,000, that’s the most you’ll get. Insurance policies also don’t cover harm done due to criminal acts, among other things.
Insurers often try to use these factors to suggest you’re limited in what you can recover. However, in many cases, your injury lawyer can identify additional insurance policies and challenge exclusions.
What makes a higher settlement?
Severe injuries + medical bills = high settlement
In order to receive a settlement offer, you must have damages. Insurance companies calculate damages with the above formula – severe injuries + medical bills = settlement offer. While there is more that goes into your actual injuries (lost income from missing work, pain and suffering – see our damages article). However, insurance companies will place a higher value on your case if you have severe injuries and medical bills associate with your accident.
You won’t get a substantial settlement offer unless you’re severely injured and have high medical and rehabilitation costs. The longer and the greater your injury impacts your life, you should be offered more compensation. Your claim can also include emotional or psychological issues the accident caused along with its impact on your relationships with others.
Medical bills are used to measure the severity of your injuries. The higher your costs, the higher the value. This includes everything from the time of the accident to the projected future costs caused by your injuries. It can be the ambulance ride from the scene, hospital stays, doctor’s appointments, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, devices, occupational and physical therapy.
Compensation for pain and suffering can be based on the injury you suffered, what treatments you received, how many, and how long your recovery is expected to take. Your testimony, description of your pain in medical records, and what types and how much pain medication you use also indicate your level of pain. If you get emotional or psychological help from a professional, those records and bills should increase your claim.
Can I recover for lost wages in South Carolina? – Yes
After a severe injury, it can be difficult or impossible to return to work. You should also be reimbursed for the time away from your job, including lost wages and benefits. If you are totally or partially disabled to the point you make less money, the settlement should make up for the money you’re losing now and lose in the future due to the accident.
How strong is your case?
At Keibler Law Group, we investigate every case as early and as thoroughly as possible. Evidence powers every car accident and truck accident claim. The more and better the evidence, the stronger the claim, the higher its value. This includes who was at fault for the accident – drivers’ statements, witnesses’ statements, physical evidence, video of the accident – as well as how well-documented your injuries and other damages. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better. We have been able to retrieve video footage of accidents because or neighboring cameras (local houses, restaurants, churches, etc.). However, often times those videos disappear after a certain amount of time – 48 hours, a week, or a month. The sooner you contact an attorney, the stronger likelihood we can obtain video footage. If there’s not much evidence supporting your claim, the insurance company will offer less.
How do insurance companies calculate settlements?
The insurance company will put together a settlement offer based on your past and expected future:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills and treatments
- Physical pain
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium – the damage the injury caused to your spousal relationship
- Lost income
- Lost profit
- Loss of future income
- Out of pocket expenses – mileage, medical devices, at-home improvements to cope with injuries
Insurance companies factor in your degree of fault, the policy’s limits and exclusions, plus the strength of your case. They will probably make an early lowball offer to see if you’re willing to take it or leave out anything that isn’t as entirely documented as they’d like. They may also disagree with the amount your medical providers charged, or your diagnosis if their medical expert thinks you may have something else.