Make sure you are fully informed about the case before you settle. If the insurance claim representative is playing games with you do not settle – call a lawyer, at least to verify what is being told to you by the insurance company. Do not give a recorded statement if you have significant injuries or liability concerns. That is only going to be used against you later. Do not sign a release or other document regarding your rights without knowing what you are settling and/or consulting an attorney. Do not trust the insurance company’s representation of the scope of insurance coverage if it constrains or limits coverage. Do not sign or negotiate your claim while on medication or while still recovering from your injuries. Do not assume the insurance company will be fair with you. Discretion is the better part of valor. Verify everything. Regarding damages, make sure you get all your medical care and fully complete your medical course of treatment. It may be that when you are completely done with treatment you still are not 100% and have some degree of disability. It is only after you complete your medical care and reach your maximum medical improvement that you should resolve your case.
Insurance claims adjusters have training and experience to get the upper hand over claimants. They know how to negotiate. They are the ones who have the money and are writing the check – the claimant is out money and damaged and needs the compensation. They know many aspects of the law, damages, medicine and insurance policy provisions. They know what jurors typically award in typical cases in certain venues. They are not risk averse like a claimant – they do not mind taking the risk of not settling as much as an injured person minds. They know certain statements and or positions to take to get the upper hand in negotiation – they negotiate for a living.
If an agent says you are at fault or partially so, they will reduce your damages. You may have no choice but to get a lawyer. I have encountered many many times that a defendant makes up a story to sound less at fault in a case. We have to go to great lengths to prove that falsehood (lawsuit, investigation, deposition, trial) and it can be frustrating. If this occurs tell the adjuster it is not true and show the police report, other witness statements, or the improbability of the defendant’s story.
If they say the impact was not hard enough, tell them it was and that all of the force of the impact went to the front seat where you were sitting. Or, that there was more damage than meets the eye – i.e. you have a steel bumper, or a collapsible one, or that the other car went under yours, or look at the damage to the other car. If they arbitrarily cut off paying for your medical care at some point, resist it. You are still in pain and need the treatment. Go to your primary doctor or an orthopedic doctor to verify the chiropractic treatment. They may say you should only get medical care for a certain length of time, but that is arbitrary. If they say they will only reimburse copays or limit your medical, do not agree. You should be paid for the amount paid to satisfy your bills and unpaid bills in Missouri. You should be paid the full amount of your medical bills in Illinois. If you have health insurance – the defendant does not get the benefit of it. Same with sick or vacation pay – you still should get paid for your wage loss even if you had other benefits of employment, including short term disability, which paid you. Make sure you get paid the full value of your car – this can be hard. If they offer you less, but you need the money, take the money but do not sign a release and make sure neither the check nor anything from the insurance company says it is paid in full, a release or prevents you from further compensation.