What is My Case Worth
How Do You Know How Much Money You Are Entitled to Recover?
Insurance companies rely on the fact that you do not know the true value of your claim. They will try to tell you what your claim is worth and attempt to settle the claim with you before an experienced attorney reviews your claim, and can give you their opinion regarding his/her value of your claim.
Chances are, an experienced claims adjuster knows a lot more about your injury than you do. Remember, the insurance company is motivated to settle your case as quickly and as cheaply as possible before you realize the true extent of your damages or injuries.
Experienced claims adjusters want to minimize the risk of paying claims, therefore, they will try to offer an injured person a quick but unfairly low settlement in exchange for a full release. If an adjuster can persuade you to sign a release, you will be prevented from making any future recovery, even if your injuries turn out to be much worse than you expected.
Every claim is unique.
There are generally three important elements that go into establishing the value of every claim. If any element is missing, then you don’t have a strong claim.
The three elements required to have a claim are:
First, liability or fault, in other words whose fault was it.
Second, what damages or injuries were caused by the accident, and
Third, how much insurance coverage is there to compensate you for your injuries and losses?
Let’s address liability or fault first.
If you are involved in an accident and it is 100 percent the other person’s fault, then this certainly increases the value of your claim. Even if you are partially at fault, or even more than half at fault, you still may be able to make a recovery, but the value of your claim will generally be reduced by your percentage of fault.
This is why insurance companies want to take a recorded statement of you, and get you to say things like: you don’t know whose fault it is; or how fast someone was going, or get you to say the accident was partially your fault before you have all the facts. They can then use your words against you to reduce the value of your claim.
The next element that determines the value of your claim is what are your damages.
In other words, if you didn’t go to the doctor, then there’s no documentation that you have an injury. If you haven’t missed a lot of work, or the accident hasn’t affected your life in any meaningful way, then the value of your claim is quite low.
On the other hand if you’ve suffered severe and permanent debilitating injuries that require ongoing medical care and treatment, and you’ve shown a pattern of going to your health care providers on a consistent and regular basis, and your doctors indicate that the crash has affected your ability to work and/or earn income, and that you’re going to have future as well as past medical bills that are expensive, then the damages in your claim are very high.
The final element to determine the value of your claim is how much insurance coverage is there to compensate you for your injuries.
If your accident is a result of an uninsured motorist and you don’t have any uninsured motorist coverage on your own vehicle, you may not be able to make any recovery.
Regretfully, about 50 percent of the cars in Florida do not carry bodily injury insurance.
If you get into a crash with an uninsured vehicle and you do not have adequate uninsured motorist coverage, it probably isn’t worth going after the driver and owner of the car.
However, if a large corporation or a company owned the vehicle, or a driver with good insurance causes an accident there may be bodily injury insurance to pay for all of your claims.
Or, we may look to your own automobile insurance policy to see if you have uninsured motorist coverage, which is designed to protect you in the event you’re in a crash with someone who doesn’t have any or adequate insurance.
Generally speaking, if the insurance coverage is low, then the value of your claim will be capped by the low policy limits despite severe damages and clear liability.
So ultimately, the value of your claim is a combination of these three important elements. An experienced trial lawyer, whose practice is focused on personal injury cases, will be able to give you a good estimate on the true value of your claim.
At our firm, we fully explore any and all insurance which may be available to help compensate you for your losses.
We also investigate as soon as possible to determine if any other person or parties may be responsible for the accident.
In catastrophic cases, we often times hire experts who help us quantify and explain the huge financial losses caused by an inability to return to work, or to help explain the future medical needs and costs that will be needed to help our client manage his or her medical needs in the future.
Every case is unique. If you have any questions, please call our office to speak directly with Art Liebling.