If you recently sustained a personal injury, do not accept an offer from any insurance company—yours or someone else's—without first speaking to an experienced lawyer. Offers that insurance companies make directly to injured individuals rarely pay you the amount you have the legal right to receive. If you accept such an offer, you could forfeit reasonable payment for your losses.
Here's an overview of your rights to receive compensation for a personal injury, the role insurance plays in paying your expenses, the reasons why you can't always trust an insurance company's offer, and the role of an experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney in securing the compensation you truly deserve.
Your Rights to Compensation After Suffering a Personal Injury
As the victim of a personal injury, you have the right to seek compensation from the party at fault for hurting you.
Anyone who behaved carelessly or broke the law in a way that led to your injury could be liable to you, whether an individual, business, or public institution:
- A careless driver in a car crash
- A company that failed to maintain safe premises for you to visit
- The manufacturer of a defective product that malfunctioned and harmed you
- A government agency that unreasonably disregarded its public safety obligations.
Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, you may receive a wide range of monetary damages from an at-fault party and anyone else legally liable to answer for that party's actions.
Damages recoverable for a personal injury can include compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost income and job benefits from missing work, physical pain, emotional suffering, diminished quality of life, and loss of companionship. You could also be eligible to receive compensation for any permanent disability or disfigurement you suffered. If the at-fault party engaged in extreme or malicious misconduct, you could also seek punitive damages.
The amount of compensation you can reasonably expect depends entirely on the facts and circumstances particular to your personal injury case.
There's no fixed amount nor any guarantee of payment at all.
It all comes down to factors such as:
- The severity of your injury and the degree of disruption it inflicted on your life.
- The strength of the case a lawyer could build on your behalf to prove liability and damages in court, if it became necessary to do so to get justice and payment.
- The skill and reputation of the lawyer you hire to handle your case.
- The number of parties liable to you and the financial resources (typically liability insurance coverage or personal/business assets) each of them possesses to pay you damages.
Assessing the value of your potential personal injury claim can be legally and factually intensive. You can't estimate it accurately on the back of an envelope.
It takes careful examination of the evidence, analysis of the law, and evaluation of the practicalities of holding at-fault parties and insurance companies responsible for your losses. It's a job for an experienced and diligent personal injury attorney.
The Roles Insurance Can Play After a Personal Injury
Insurance plays a central role in compensating most personal injuries. Chances are you'll turn to an insurance policy, be it yours or someone else's, to pay at least some of your expenses.
Your Insurance: The Different Types of Coverage
Any insurance you carry can pay for some of the costs you face after suffering a personal injury because of someone else's wrongdoing. Your health insurance, for instance, may cover the cost of medical treatment you need due to the injury, while long-term disability insurance can replace a portion of your income if your injury temporarily or permanently prevents you from working.
If you suffered harm in a motor vehicle accident, any auto insurance you carry may also pay for some of your case. If you have medical payments (MedPay) or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, for example, they may cover certain medical costs and lost income you sustained from a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. If you have uninsured or underinsured (UI) coverage, it may pay your damages if a party at fault for the crash has sufficient insurance or assets to pay you.
You can sometimes turn first to your insurance to cover immediate expenses after a personal injury.
If the evidence proves that someone else caused your trauma and is liable to you for your losses, your insurance company can pursue reimbursement from that party's insurer under a legal principle called subrogation. If, similarly, you pursue legal action against an at-fault party, you may have to reimburse your insurer out of any funds you recover for the expenses they paid.
Someone Else's Liability Insurance Coverage
If someone else's negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing caused your injury, their liability insurance coverage could represent another source of potential compensation for your losses.
Liability insurance, as its name suggests, covers the liability of the policyholder (the person at fault) for your damages up to a maximum policy limit. Any damages you suffer beyond that limit are the at-fault party's responsibility to cover out of their own pocket.
Your insurance coverage, which pays only specific expenses (except for UI coverage), is unlike liability insurance, which pays for all damages you might suffer. These include financial (or economic) losses, such as medical bills, and non-financial (or non-economic) harm, such as pain and suffering.
An at-fault party's liability insurance coverage, therefore, will typically cover a far more comprehensive variety of losses than your insurance, which is why it's often beneficial to identify and pursue legal action against as many liable parties as possible after sustaining a personal injury.
Circumstances Where You Might Receive an Offer From an Insurance Company
The road to compensation after a personal injury can entail settlement offers from insurance companies. Insurers can make these offers under various circumstances. Here's a review of the common ones.
Settlement of a First-Party Claim
First-party claims are those you make against your insurance policy. If you are in an auto accident, for example, and seek compensation from your insurer under a MedPay or PIP policy, the insurance company may make a settlement offer to pay you a lump sum for your past and anticipated future medical costs up to the limit of the policy.
Settlement of a Potential or Actual Third-Party Claim
A third-party claim is an insurance claim you submit under someone else's liability insurance. It demands payment for your damages under the policyholder's liability for your losses.
A liability insurer will sometimes offer to settle your potential third-party claim before you've submitted it or even spoken with a lawyer. If you're in an accident that another driver caused, for example, their auto insurer may acknowledge their policyholder's liability for your damages immediately and offer to settle your potential claim.
Once you've submitted a third-party claim under someone else's liability insurance policy, the insurer may respond to your claim by making you a settlement offer. The insurer may agree to pay your claim in full, or it might offer less than the claimed amount.
Settlement of a Lawsuit
You might receive an offer from an insurance company when you're in the process of filing a lawsuit against their policyholder—the party liable for your personal injury. It's common for insurers to participate in negotiations to settle a lawsuit against their policyholder, since they're commonly the ones writing the check to the injured party and paying for the policyholder's legal defense.
Why You Can't Always Trust an Insurance Settlement Offer
Receiving a settlement offer from an insurance company can initially feel like a stroke of luck, a chance to get the compensation you need without going through the rigors of a court battle. It's important to remember, however, that insurance companies have a vested interest in paying you as little as possible to preserve their bottom line. You can't always trust that their offer represents a fair value for your claim.
Insurance companies are businesses, and, like all businesses, they aim to make and save money. Often, therefore, the insurance company's main motivation in settling a claim is to avoid potential future costs of defending a lawsuit or having to pay a larger amount later on after unfavorable evidence emerges or they lose your case in court. An insurer wants to settle for the bare minimum they can get you to agree to take.
Insurers have vast experience settling cases similar to yours, and they use this to fine-tune their offer to the exact amount they think will make your claim go away. Their calculus often involves much more than an evaluation of the losses you've suffered.
They also consider how vulnerable you are, how likely you are to feel financial strain, and whether you have legal representation. They also time their offers to give themselves maximum advantage—they want to catch you precisely when you're likely to agree to the lowest number they can get away with.
You can't always trust an insurance company, therefore, to make an offer that reflects the true value of your claim. Settlement offers often fall far short of the amount you have the right to receive and that you need to cover your costs and losses.
Insurers want to tempt you to take their money, but they do not want to fully compensate you if they can avoid it.
What a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do to Get You More From an Insurance Company
While insurance companies aren't always on your side, there's one professional who is: your personal injury lawyer. An experienced attorney can be instrumental in obtaining the full and fair compensation you deserve after an accident or injury. Here are some key ways your lawyer can secure more from an insurance company.
Negotiation Skills and Experience
Insurance companies are seasoned negotiators but so are personal injury attorneys. A lawyer can negotiate on your behalf, drawing on their understanding of the evidence and your legal rights to craft effective strategies that force an insurer to pay what they owe. A skilled personal injury attorney can, in most cases, negotiate a far higher offer than what an insurance company offers you directly.
Objective Evaluation of Your Claim
A lawyer can provide an objective assessment of the value of your claim. They can evaluate the extent of your current and future damages, including ones you may have overlooked—anticipated medical expenses and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. By taking all your losses into account, a lawyer develops a clear and provable picture of the amount you deserve to receive from an insurance company.
Representation in Court
If an insurance company refuses to offer an acceptable settlement, a lawyer can represent you in court and present the most compelling case possible to a judge and jury. The prospect of a court case can often pressure insurance companies to offer a fair settlement, especially if you hire a lawyer with vast experience and a strong reputation for winning personal injury cases like yours.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Do not agree to an insurance company's offer without first speaking with an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer. A case consultation with a knowledgeable legal professional is free of charge. Contact one today to learn about your rights.