What should I do if I get a lowball insurance settlement offer? If you're injured in a car accident, slip and fall or in any other circumstance due to somebody else's negligence, you deserve full and fair compensation. But too often, insurance companies try to lowball you when offering their settlement. They make the assumption that most people don't understand the true value of their claim, need the money quickly or are poor negotiators. But you don't have to accept a lowball offer, and you should never accept an insurance company's first offer. Read on below to learn more about how to deal with a lowball insurance settlement offer.
Burger Law us a personal injury law firm that is not afraid to stand up to bullies like resistant insurance companies. Based in St. Louis and Chicago, we serve the injured throughout Missouri and Illinois. If you have any questions about your claim, or want to know if a lawyer can add value to it, call Burger Law today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online.
Use our free personal injury calculator to see what full and fair compensation means in your case. But first, a few questions and answers about lowball insurance settlement offers:
How Do I Know The Value of My Claim?
Compensation in a personal injury claim is meant to "make one whole." That means that the damages awarded should put you in the same position you were in before. In an injury claim, you deserve compensation for:
- Economic damages, such as the cost of any medical treatment, lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses like transportation costs to and from medical appointments; and
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish and inconvenience.
An insurance adjuster may tell you they only have to pay for six weeks of treatment, don't need to cover lost wages if you have PTO or that they don't have to pay for pain and suffering. None of those things are true. They are liable for 100 percent of your damages.
How Do I Know If I'm Getting a Lowball Insurance Settlement Offer?
There are a few tell-tale signs that you're getting a lowball offer from the insurance company:
- The offer comes too quickly — While we always try to get a settlement quickly, the truth is it takes time for an insurance adjuster to evaluate a claim. It's rare for an injury claim to settle in less than a month if it's really fair. If the adjuster gets back to you with an offer quickly, it could be a sign that they haven't thoroughly evaluated your damages. They may also be trying to settle the case before you've completed your medical treatment, gone back to work or consulted with an attorney.
- The adjuster ignores evidence or damages — An insurance adjuster may ignore evidence or damages in order to minimize the amount of money paid out by the insurance company. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as the adjuster not thoroughly investigating the claim, not understanding the extent of the damages, or feeling pressure to save the company money. In some cases, the adjuster may intentionally overlook or downplay certain evidence in order to justify denying or undervaluing the claim. If you've sent them evidence of medical expenses and wage loss damages, there's no reason for them not to include it in your claim.
- The math isn't adding up, and they won't explain why — Economic damages, like medical bills, car repairs and lost wages, are easy to calculate. If their offer is far below your economic damages, you have a right to ask them how they came to their offer. Insurance adjusters also love to downplay non-economic damages. While it may seem like it's difficult to put a dollar amount on them, there is actually a formula for calculating non-economic damages. Typically, your economic damages should be calculated by a number between 1.5 and 5. If they don't seem to be taking non-economic damages into account, that means it's a lowball offer. You can read more about how pain and suffering is calculated here.
- They pressure you — An insurance adjuster will sometimes tell you that they can rescind their offer, or they'll call you frequently asking if you've changed your mind yet. This is a sign that they know their offer is low, and are trying to make your claim "go away."
- They blame you for your injuries — If you were at fault for your injuries, either partially or fully, that limits how much the insurance company is obligated to pay you. If you know you are not to blame but they are trying to say you are, that is a sure sign that you're being lowballed.
- They question or downplay your injuries — The insurance company might try to say your injuries were pre-existing or that the accident wasn't serious enough to cause the injuries you're making a claim for. But they don't get to decide how serious your injuries are; that's up to a medical professional. They may tell you that they need access to your full medical records, or that you need to be examined by a doctor of their choosing. That is not true; limit what documentation you give them to your injuries specifically related to your accident.
Insurance companies use a lot of tricks to devalue claims, but there are ways to combat them.
What To Do If You're Getting a Lowball Insurance Settlement Offer
If you're getting a lowball offer, do not accept it. You only have one chance to get a fair settlement; if you accept their offer you can never get more compensation at a later date. Getting a lowball offer is, unfortunately, quite common. So stay calm, and follow the steps below to get the adjuster to raise their offer:
- Review the policy — Go over the terms of the policy you are making a claim against, and make sure the adjuster isn't leaving anything out that should be covered.
- Ask the adjuster for specifics — Ask the adjuster why they are offering you what they are, what they've included, what they haven't included and why.
- Gather evidence — In addition to bills, receipts and estimates (which the adjuster should already have), you can send the adjuster X-rays or other imaging tests, photographs from the accident scene, police reports or more proof of the other side's liability and your damages.
- Negotiate — If you simply write a letter rejecting the offer, the insurance company may rescind it. Instead, send them a counteroffer, with complete documentation of your damages, and why the insurance company is liable for them. It's best to be as detailed as possible when sending your counteroffer.
- File a lawsuit — If they refuse to raise their offer, you can file a lawsuit against the insurance company in civil court. Filing a lawsuit officially begins the process of taking your claim to a jury trial. It's best to file a lawsuit through an attorney. Sometimes, the threat of a lawsuit is enough to get an insurance company to finally be fair.
- Hire a personal injury lawyer — An attorney is your legal advocate; they can assist in all of the above steps and more. Experienced lawyers know how to raise a lowball insurance settlement offer. They'll be by your side every step of the way, will handle all the legal aspects of your case and will be available to answer any of your questions.
Missouri and Illinois Personal Injury Lawyers | Burger Law
At Burger Law, we fight back against insurance companies who refuse to be fair every day. In 30 years of service to the injured, we have secured over $200 million in compensation for our clients. As experienced trial lawyers, we can see your case all the way through to the end, even if it means going to court. Because we work on a contingency-fee basis, there's no reason for us to take on your claim unless we truly believe we can significantly increase your compensation. If you think you're getting a lowball insurance settlement offer in St. Louis, or anywhere in Missouri or Illinois, speak to an attorney at Burger Law today at (314) 500-HURT or fill out our online contact form.