Injured People Settling Their Own Insurance Claims in Florida – When Should They Call a Florida Lawyer to Help Get Fair Compensation?
Posted By Alan Sackrin on July 30, 2013
We’ve posted before about the motivation of every good Florida insurance adjuster (their company’s bottom line), no need to go into details about the adjuster’s goal again here. For those Florida losses where the policy holder wants to try and settle with their insurance company on their own, it’s important that they know the adjuster isn’t playing on their team; many Floridians understand this and don’t feel the need to get a Florida lawyer on board to help them resolve their claim on their insurance policy.
Which is fine. Many claims get resolved to everyone’s satisfaction without the need for a lawyer to advocate for the claimant against the insurance company’s representatives.
However, there are times when a Florida injury lawyer is a welcomed ally to someone trying to get a fair and just payment on their insurance claim – particularly when that claim needs to cover a large loss (severe personal injury, totaled car, major property damage, etc.). Having a Florida attorney with years of experience in fighting insurance companies at both the negotiation table and at trial only adds to balance out the bargaining power between claimant and insurer.
Consider the following when dealing with an insurance adjuster in settlement of your Florida claim on your own:
1. Any recorded statement that you make can be used to limit or deny your claim at a later date. (See our earlier post on recorded statements.)
2. You must do your homework so your claim settlement offer will be respected. Tell the insurance company that you want a very high number and they’ll prepare for a fight against someone they consider to be looking for a windfall; give the adjuster a number that is too low and they’ll be more than happy to pay you less than you are entitled to receive.
What homework? Know the value of the car, and the cost of repairs. Get estimates. Find out the long term care costs for seriously injured claimants as well as things like lost wages, lost earning capacity, etc.
3. Know the bottom line on your claim — you need a tally of the total injuries involved over time. This can be complicated and cumbersome to calculate. Documents like medical records, employment records, property values, and more may be needed. Without that final total, however, you may get a final claims payment that doesn’t end up covering the entire loss.
Consider these situations as hints that having an experienced Florida injury lawyer on your side might be advantageous to you:
1. If lots of money is at stake, then your insurance claim means more money leaving the coffers of the insurance company and your claim is going to get more scrutiny by the adjuster (and his bosses). These are professionals who know lots of ways to get that claims settlement offer as low as possible and they aren’t going to share their strategy with you, even it’s not an industry secret.
2. Their “final offer” may not be the final offer. It may come with a take it or we’ll sue warning — if you don’t have a lawyer, then they may think you’d rather settle now that stir up a big fight by bringing in an attorney on your side. The decision to cave or to call their bluff is yours.
3. If an insurance company representative admits that its insured was liable for the accident, this doesn’t mean they won’t argue a different story later in the game. Liability is a technical term and a key element of any trial; don’t assume that if they say they agree with your position that you are the innocent in the accident that this is set in stone. That’s a jury determination, if it comes to that, from their point of view.
This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not offer legal advice. For more questions or concerns, or to discuss your personal situation, please feel free to contact our offices to speak with Florida Board Certified Trial Lawyer Alan Sackrin, who has spent many years advocating for people in the State of Florida against delayed, denied, or low-balled insurance claims.
What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been contacted by an insurance adjuster, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise with a claim, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
- 5 Things You Should Know About Car Insurance Adjusters When You Have A Car Accident Claim
- Are Florida Insurance Adjusters On Your Side?: Beware of the Denied Claim, the Low Ball Claim and the Recorded Statement.
- Florida Homeowners’ Policy and Claims Bill of Rights Draft Released by Florida Consumer Advocate: Protecting Against Insurance Adjusters
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.