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Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney / Blog / Motor Vehicle Accidents / Must I accept my insurer’s lowball offer following a car crash?

Must I accept my insurer’s lowball offer following a car crash?

When a person is in a car crash, they will file a claim with their insurer. But they must remember that the insurer is looking out for their own bottom line, not the crash victim’s. Simply put, most insurers want to pay as little as possible for motor vehicle accident claims, to maximize their profits.

However, in the aftermath of a crash, how does one even know whether the insurer’s initial settlement is a good one?

Tactics used to buttress to a lowball offer

There are a variety of tactics an insurer might employ to settle a claim for as little as possible.

First, the insurer may rush a settlement before the victim knows the extent of their injuries. For example, an insurer might say they will cover the hospital bills from the initial days following the crash. But this does not include coverage for the ongoing medical care and therapy many car crash victims need.

Similarly, the insurer may rush a settlement based on lost wages. They want to pay as little for lost wages as possible, and in doing so, will grossly underestimate how long it will take the victim to recover enough to return to work.

Also, an insurer may look for ways the victim could have been at fault for the crash, thus lowering the amount of damages they could recover in a lawsuit.

Florida follows the doctrine of comparative negligence in personal injury cases. This means that if the plaintiff was partially responsible for the crash, their recovery will be reduced in proportion to the percentage they are at fault.

Thus, insurers will look for fault, even where there may be none, as a reason to lower the initial proposed settlement.

What to do if an initial settlement is insufficient

If an insurer’s initial settlement offer is low, and it likely will be, there are ways to negotiate a higher offer.

First, it can help to hire an attorney. Personal injury attorneys are experienced in the laws regarding car crash cases and are experienced negotiators. They will look out for their client’s best interests whereas the insurer will not.

Keeping detailed records of the expenses incurred due to the crash is important. A car crash victim can also write a letter to their insurer stating why they are not accepting the initial settlement. Keep a copy of that letter as well.

Also, a person should know their insurance policy inside and out. Insurers will often try to point to exclusions that would limit what they owe. Knowing what exclusions apply and what do not can help one’s case.

Car crash victims do not need to accept the first settlement their insurer proposes. They can negotiate a better offer. And, they might have the right to take their insurer to court if they believe that is their best option for compensation.

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