If you have suffered injuries in an accident in Biloxi, the last thing you want to deal with is an insurance claim adjuster. These adjusters can be ruthless in their tactics, often trying to wear down Mississippi car crash victims to get them to settle for less than they deserve.
However, with some preparation and knowledge, you can stand up to these adjusters and get the total compensation you deserve. Most of the time, hiring an experienced car accident lawyer like Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law will level the playing field and help you get the best possible outcome in your case. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common tactics used by claim adjusters and how to respond to them.
How Insurance Claim Adjusters Determine an Injury Settlement Offer
If you’re negotiating a car accident claim with your Mississippi insurance company, they will want to perform their own investigation into your Biloxi accident. Therefore, they will likely assign a claim adjuster to your case who will perform the following steps to determine liability for your accident, and potentially make a settlement, depending on their findings:
- Investigate the claim: This often includes talking to witnesses, reviewing police reports, and looking at photos of the accident scene.
- Obtain your medical records: The adjuster handling your case will likely request records from all treating physicians, surgeries, imaging, and other relevant medical records.
- Calculate your past and future medical expenses: That same insurance adjuster will use the information gathered in the previous two steps to calculate the total medical costs.
- Calculate your lost wages: Adjusters often consider any time missed from work due to your injuries when crafting your settlement offer.
- Calculate your pain and suffering: An adjuster uses a multiplier or specialized software that assigns values to pain and suffering claims. Note that Mississippi is one of a handful of states that caps recovery amounts for pain and suffering. It’s $1,000,000 for most civil cases (like personal injury ones) with the exception of medical malpractice. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that cap is $500,000.
It should also be noted that Mississippi is a pure comparative fault state, meaning injured parties can recover compensation equivalent to the percentage that they were not at fault for a crash. So, for example, if the other motorists were 80% at-fault for a wreck and you were 20% liable for it, you would be able to recover the higher percent of damages (80%). Should the parties not be able to reach an out-of-court settlement, then the onus falls on the judge and jury to assign at-fault percentages to each party.
Afterward, the claim adjuster will make a settlement offer to you. This initial offer is almost always lowballed, so don’t be surprised if it’s lower than expected. When you don’t accept that offer, the claim adjuster will try out some common negotiating tactics.
How Insurance Claim Adjusters May Try To Lower Your Claim
If you have ever been involved in an accident before, then you probably know that dealing with an insurance company can be a nightmare. They will try to use every tactic in the book to avoid paying you what you deserve. Insurance companies are “for-profit” entities and will do whatever they can to pay as little as possible.
The unfortunate reality is that the more evidence you provide to support the number you’re requesting as a settlement, the higher your compensation will be. Therefore, providing proof in documentation will help build your case. Unfortunately, insurance companies will employ covert and unethical tactics that claim adjusters may use against you, including:
Downplaying Injuries: Arguing That You’re Exaggerating Your Injuries
One of the most common claim reduction tactics Mississippi insurance adjusters use is downplaying your injuries stemming from your Biloxi car crash. The claim adjuster will likely argue that you’re exaggerating your injuries or that they aren’t as bad as you claim. They may try to get you to settle quickly by offering a lowball settlement. Insurers may also argue that your injuries don’t entitle you to as much money as you claim that they do.
Because of these constraints, personal injury lawyers like Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law frequently expend significant time and money advocating on behalf of their clients. Insurers may contest the severity of your injuries or claim that the treatment you received for them was inappropriate, irrelevant, or unnecessary. Insurers will also examine the long-term effects of your injuries on your life, such as how much pain and suffering they caused you and discount your accounts of what you went through.
It can be challenging to put a number to pain and suffering. The insurance company you’re working with may try to convince you that the perpetual pain from your injuries isn’t severe; therefore, you shouldn’t get any compensation. Or they might say that giving up hobbies or finding new employment opportunities aren’t factors that warrant you receiving compensation.
Denying Liability: Questioning Your Claim
Another common claim reduction tactic insurers utilize is denying liability. The adjuster will likely question your claim or try to find evidence that you’re at fault for the accident as a way to minimize their liability. For example, if you’re in a slip and fall accident, the claim adjuster may claim that the property owner wasn’t at fault. Instead, they may say you were wearing inappropriate shoes or weren’t paying attention.
Asking Leading Questions
Another claim reduction tactic is asking leading questions to manipulate your answers. For example, they may ask you how your injuries have affected your life. They may even ask you if you’ve ever been injured in a car accident before. These questions may get you to say something they can use against you.
Delaying the Claim
Another common claim reduction tactic is delaying the processing of your claim, which is actually illegal under Mississippi bad faith insurance laws. Statutes of limitations apply to such cases. The adjuster may delay your claim by saying they need more time to investigate what happened. These delays can be frustrating but be patient; the adjuster is likely doing this to frustrate you, so you’ll be motivated to settle for less money. Your concern should be obtaining the highest possible settlement while still adhering to the statute of limitations that applies to your case.
Requesting Unnecessary Documentation
The claim adjuster may also try to get you to provide unnecessary documentation. For example, they may ask for your medical records or additional information about your employment. They may also ask for information that’s not relevant to your claim, such as your credit report. You may want to consult with an attorney before providing the insurance adjuster with any information to ensure it doesn’t jeopardize your claim.
Requesting a Recorded Statement
The claim adjuster may also try to get you to provide a recorded statement, sometimes right after your Biloxi accident, when you may not be in the right head space to be thoughtful in providing it. They may say that the recorded statement is just for “clarification.” However, the claim adjuster will likely use your recorded account against you. For example, if you say you’re not sure how the accident happened, the claim adjuster may use that to claim you’re at fault. If you say you’re not injured, the claim adjuster may use that to argue that you don’t deserve any compensation.
Be aware of these common claim reduction tactics, so you can be prepared to handle them. If you have any questions, you should always consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
How To Counter the Adjuster’s Settlement Offer
The claim adjuster’s settlement offer may be much lower than what you expected. The claim adjuster may try to lowball you by offering a settlement that’s much lower than what your claim is worth. To counter the claim adjuster’s settlement offer, you should take the time to do some calculations.
- Calculate the value of your claim: This includes your medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, replacement cost or damaged property, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and other damages. Often you call these general and special damages.
- Compare your settlement value to the adjuster’s value: If the adjuster’s offer is much lower than your claim value, it may be a lowball offer. See where your recommendations differ or what they may have left out in their calculations.
- Prepare a counteroffer: You should always make a counteroffer when the claim adjuster makes an initial offer. Your counteroffer should include your calculations. If their offer is too low, draw on your research and discuss why. Attach documentation to prove your evidence further.
Hiring a Lawyer Is the Best Way To Counter an Insurance Claim Adjuster
It’s important to remember that insurance claim adjusters are trained to minimize the money they pay on claims. As such, learn how to deal with them. They will also employ tactics to try and convince you that you don’t need representation. Please don’t listen to them; it’s a huge red flag. A lawyer like Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law can help you navigate the claim process, deal with the insurance adjuster, and ensure you receive the total compensation you deserve.
Personal injury attorneys are trained to deal with claim adjusters and know how to counter their tactics. If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t deal with the claim adjuster on your own. Instead, contact our Biloxi law firm to schedule a free consultation. We can help you understand your rights and advocate for you.