Accidents and the complications they carry are an unfortunate and unavoidable possibility in life. There are many ways they can occur, from a slip and fall in the workplace to a car accident on your daily commute. Afterward, many accident victims are intimidated by the process of making an injury claim, often improperly dealing with insurance companies and ending up accepting a settlement offer that is lower than they could have achieved.
This is because making a personal injury claim involves lots of legal complexities, necessary processes that the injured party may not know about, and difficult interactions with insurance companies to reach a fair settlement.
Luckily, the assistance of a professional attorney can make your personal injury case unimaginably easier. A good personal injury attorney will help you deal with your insurance company, compile evidence to support your insurance claim, and fight every step of the way to ensure you receive the highest amount of compensation possible. Your personal injury lawyers will also take care of all the intimidating paperwork and red tape.
Here at Abraham Watkins, our experienced injury attorney team are here to ensure you recover compensation that is appropriate for your injury claim. We will fight tirelessly to get you the financial justice you deserve.
Our law firm offers anybody interested in raising an accident claim a free consultation. We will discuss your potential case, the process involved, and give you an idea of how much a fair settlement could be. All of this comes at no obligation, and the details and information you share with us will be protected by the attorney-client confidential relationship.
To find out how a Houston insurance claims attorney from our team could help you, call us at 713-535-9319 for a free consultation at no obligation.
Accepting a Settlement Offer from your Own Insurance Company Without An Insurance Claims Attorney
While yes, you can accept an insurance company’s settlement offer without ever needing to speak with a lawyer, this is far from a recommendable approach.
This is because insurance companies are not on your side. It is in their best interest to pay you out the lowest amount possible for your personal injury. If they believe they can lowball your final settlement, either due to your lack of knowledge or their intimidation, they will do so.
You may be tempted by the option of a quick settlement without much work involved, but it is always best to speak to a lawyer about your legal options. The settlement amount you could realistically achieve may be much higher than the one you are offered.
Tricks Used by Insurance Companies to Lower Your Settlement Offer
There are many methods that insurance companies employ to try and ensure they pay out as little as possible to accident victims.
The first of these is fishing for unnecessary information. If you have just experienced a car accident, especially if you do not have thorough knowledge of the personal injury claims process in Texas, you are in a very shaken and vulnerable position. The vast majority of the time, your insurance company will try to take advantage of this fact.
They may pump you for unnecessary details and information about the car accident. This can lead to you saying things that can later be held against you during the claim process to lower your settlement amount.
Your insurance company also has their own team of insurance claims attorneys and claims adjusters, whose main job it is to gather evidence and argue to devalue your claim amount. The best defense against all of these things is an experienced personal injury attorney of your own.
How to Handle Conversations with Insurance Companies
First of all, you should never speak to your insurance company or get involved with settlement negotiations without speaking to your insurance claims attorney – or even better, having them there by your side.
For example, when you call your car insurance company to report an accident, you need to be sure that you share only the absolute minimum amount of information necessary. Your lawyer will be able to brief you on how to do this.
It is also vital that you never sign any paperwork from an insurance company without letting your insurance claims attorney read it first. The same is true if your insurance company requests or demands a recorded statement.
What Exactly is a Settlement Offer?
Before we go any further, it is important to explain exactly what a settlement offer is.
Settlement offers are essentially a compensation amount for your injuries and their complications that are given outside of the court system. When you sign a settlement agreement, you are getting rid of your right to sue for compensation. Depending on the insurance company, there may be other terms and requirements attached that you have to adhere to.
Your settlement offer will include a figure that the insurance company is willing to pay for your injuries. It is important to remember that you are under no obligation to accept this initial settlement offer.
Insurance Settlement Negotiations
If you do not think that your initial settlement offer constitutes fair compensation – and more often than not, it will not – you are entitled to deny it and enter into negotiations with your insurance company.
A settlement process involving negotiations will almost certainly go better with the assistance of an insurance claims attorney. They know the laws, command respect, and have the negotiation skills necessary for dealing with an insurance company or their insurance adjuster.
Just as you do not need to accept the insurance company’s offer the first time, you do not need to accept the second, third, or any other offer you find unfair. Often, serious settlement negotiations can go for several rounds.
The Role of a Demand Letter in Insurance Settlement Negotiations
If you are disputing the insurance company’s response to your initial claim, the next step in the process will be to issue a demand letter.
The demand letter will need to outline:
- The reasons why the insurance carrier is liable for your injuries.
- What exactly the extent of your injuries are.
- The medical treatment that was necessary for your injuries.
- The financial losses you incurred as a result of your accident.
- The amount you are seeking for your settlement offer.
Your Houston personal injury attorney will be able to write you a strong, convincing, and realistic demand letter. This gives you a much better chance of gaining appropriate compensation from your insurance company.
How is the Amount for a Settlement Offer Calculated in Houston?
Your insurance settlement offer will be calculated by looking at a variety of factors. We will explore each of these factors in the sections that follow.
It is also important to know that there is no set amount for each category. Generally speaking, the more severe the consequences, the greater the amount of compensation you could be entitled to.
If you would like to know roughly how much your settlement offer could be worth, your best option is to call us and talk to an insurance claims attorney who will talk through your case in a free consultation.
One of the leading causes of bankruptcy in America today is medical bills.
However, if you have suffered from an accident that was not your fault, your insurance company’s settlement offer should include compensation for any hospital bills or medical care you require. In the case of severe injuries that will require long-term care, this can also include consideration of the medical bills involved in future medical care.
Settlement offers that take medical bills into consideration often require proof, if you want hope of achieving the appropriate level of compensation. The easiest way to do this is to retain copies of the receipts for your medical bills, all correspondence with your health insurer, and to get a copy of your medical history – as often the consequences of an accident will be blamed on a pre-existing health condition.
Medical bills are not the only way an injury can cost you money. If you were involved in a car accident and broke both of your legs, it is likely that you would not be able to work as a result. Depending on your employer’s policies, this often means you will not be able to earn your full amount of income.
Your settlement offer can include compensation for lost wages if this is the case. For proof of your lost income, it is helpful to retain all of the correspondence you have had with your employer about your injury.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages take several things into account in insurance settlements.
First, they look at the level of pain you suffered and the duration of your healing process. While your level of compensation will be based on the severity of these two factors, you may be surprised to hear that minor injuries can also result in pain and suffering damages.
This is because minor injuries can still result in psychological damage. If you are raising a claim for a car accident case, for example, any post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or other loss of enjoyment of life sustained as a result will also impact the settlement amount.
Pain and suffering damages also take into account the effects of any disability or disfigurement that will change the way you go about your life.
Although property is not the first thing we think of when we imagine a personal injury case, it can often be a factor in determining the correct level of compensation.
Think of a situation involving a car accident. As well as physical injuries, your valuables are being damaged here too – often unrecoverable. Cars are an expensive and essential part of many of our lives, and your personal injury lawyer can fight for you to receive compensation for damage to it.
Collecting Evidence to Maximize your Settlement Agreement Amount
Whether you are using an insurance claims attorney or making your own claim, having proof and evidence on your side will help you achieve a compensation amount that is realistic to what you deserve.
Of course, having the help of a lawyer will make this much easier. They can show you where evidence is likely to lie, help you collect it, and organize it into a strong and convincing case.
However, even if you do not want to hire a lawyer, it is important to try and gather all of the following.
Cell phones have given us an immense amount of power when it comes to collecting evidence.
You should take clear photographs, from several different angles, of the scene of your accident. This may include:
- The object that caused a slip and fall accident
- The hazardous nature of the environment that was somebody else’s responsibility to ensure is safe
- Tire skid marks, damage to the scene, vehicle damage, and registration plates in the event of a car accident claim
- Your injuries, especially as the recovery process continues
This is not an exhaustive list. If you think that something could be of use to your case, take a photograph of it.
However, it is important only to take photographs if it is safe to do so. If you are severely injured or there are hazards like fast traffic or dangerous environmental conditions, always prioritize your own safety.
The reports of other people involved with or who witnessed the accident can go a long way as evidence for your insurance company.
After your accident has occurred, and only when it is safe to do so, you should seek the details of everyone who saw it. This should include their full name and contact details, if possible.
If your accident involved a car or other vehicle, it is important to get the details of the other driver’s insurance company, as well as their general contact details.
Bills and Other Documentation
As we mentioned in the sections about lost wages and the expenses associated with medical treatment above, all documentation relating to your injury and its consequences should be retained.
These should include:
- All correspondence from the insurance companies themselves
- The bills for your medical treatment, as well as any other correspondence with your doctors or your health insurance provider
- All correspondence with your employer relating to your accident, especially any details regarding time you were forced to take off to recover
- Any other receipts relating to your out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel expenses you would not have needed to pay otherwise
Accident Reports from First Responders
Depending on your accident, it may be appropriate to call law enforcement, the fire department, an ambulance, or some combination of the three.
If this is the case, the police report or other official documentation of the accident will be helpful evidence to use in negotiating with your insurance company. If you are struggling to get hold of it, as this is not always the easiest thing, your insurance claims attorney will be able to assist you.
Is Accepting an Insurance Company’s Offer Always the Best Option?
Accepting an insurance offer may be the quickest route to compensation, but it is not always the best.
The full extent of your injuries or consequences may be outside the scope of the insurance coverage. It is also possible that the insurance company offers you an unfair amount and is unwilling to budge during negotiations.
However, you can attempt to overrule the insurance company or their insurance claims adjuster by taking your case to trial instead. It is not uncommon for this to be the best route to getting the amount of compensation an accident victim deserves.
If you do choose to reject your settlement offer and take your case to court, legal counsel from a professional and experienced personal experience attorney is essential. They will be able to negotiate the strongest case possible for you, negotiate the court system, and help you compile all of the evidence and resources you need.
One of the main differences between settling your compensation in court and out of court is the amount of time this could take.
The quickest route is a swift negotiation directly with the insurer. However, this is not always possible, especially if you are being given unreasonable settlement amounts. Multiple rounds of negotiation can take a long time.
If you choose to go through the courts after failed negotiation, your case will take even longer. The average time from raising a court claim to the court date itself is between six to eight months, although you still have the option to settle during this window.
Punitive Damages if Your Case Goes to Court
As well as all of the categories of compensation mentioned above, there is another type of compensation available to you if you choose to go through the courts rather than the settlement process.
These are punitive damages, where the judge decides that the level of negligence or harm demonstrated by the liable party is well out of the bounds of being reasonable. They may then issue punitive damages on top of the rest of the compensation to set a precedent and discourage other people from acting in the same way in the future.
We Work on a Contingency Basis
Many people are intimidated by mistaken ideas about all lawyers being costly and only wealthy clients being able to afford worthwhile legal representation. Often, accident victims miss out on compensation they could have won otherwise because of this.
That’s why, here at Abraham Watkins, we conduct all of our legal work on a contingency basis. This means that your case will be no win fee. You’ll only pay a single cent if your case is successful, when your legal fees will come out of your final settlement or compensation amount.
We are committed to ensuring that justice is available to everyone, no matter how much money they have. There will be no upfront costs or hidden fees associated with your case.
Contact a Houston Insurance Claims Attorney Now
If you have been involved in an accident that caused you injury and it was not your fault, you could be entitled to compensation. This compensation can come through a settlement with your insurance company or through the court system and could include money for your injuries, their consequences, and any other complications you suffered as a result.
We have been fighting for our clients’ financial justice for over 70 combined years on a no-win no fee basis. Our team of insurance claims attorneys have the Texas legal knowledge, negotiating skills, and compassionate treatment needed to ensure your legal process is as painless as possible. We will handle the legal complexities and red tape so you do not have to worry about it.
If you would like to find out more about how we could help with your personal injury accident case, all you need to do is get in touch at your convenience for a free consultation that is entirely confidential under the attorney-client relationship.
Our lines are open 24/7. Call today at 713-535-9319.
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If you have additional questions about your accident or injuries – or if you wish to speak to one of our attorneys about your legal options – please complete our online contact form or call our Houston law office at 888-261-8831 or 713-244-5486.
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