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How do auto insurance companies calculate their settlement offers?

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2020 | Car Accidents

If you’re injured by a motorist’s negligence in this state, an Indiana personal injury attorney can examine what happened, study the police and medical reports, question any witnesses, and determine if you qualify to file a personal injury claim.

If you file an injury claim, either with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company or with your own, you’ll want to find out how much your claim is worth. If you’re offered a low settlement amount, your attorney can negotiate for a more generous offer.

What is a personal injury claim worth? How do auto insurance companies determine the amounts they offer to injured victims of negligence? How can you know if the offer is fair? If you’ll keep reading, these questions will be answered, and you’ll learn more about your rights as an injured victim of negligence in Indiana.

What Should Compensation for a Personal Injury Claim Include?

An Indiana car accident attorney can determine the value of your injury claim and negotiate with the insurance company for that amount.

A fair settlement offer will be sufficient to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage:

1. Medical bills: Be sure to include the cost of emergency services, radiology, surgeries, tests, doctor visits, medical equipment, and prescriptions. If you suffer a catastrophic injury or permanent disability, you must also include your projected long-term medical expenses.

2. Lost earnings: If you miss work due to your injuries, you have the right to reimbursement for your lost wages or lost sick time. If your injury prevents you from continuing to do the same work, you may also seek compensation for your projected lost future earnings.

3. Pain and suffering: Adjusters will consider this element if the records and other documentation demonstrate you suffered pain.

4. Property damage: Claims for property damage are handled separately from personal injury claims and are based on the cost of repairs or the replacement value of the vehicle if it has been totaled.

Are “Pain and Suffering” Considered Injuries?

“Pain and suffering” is the legal term for injuries that include physical pain as well as mental and emotional suffering such as grief, distress, and “the loss of the enjoyment of life.” Anxieties and fears – including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – are also considered injuries.

The compensation that an injured victim of negligence receives for personal pain and suffering is considered “non-economic” because there are no bills or receipts for grief and distress.

However, an auto insurance company may attempt to offer little or nothing for pain and suffering after an accident. No laws or guidelines govern how auto insurance companies determine pain and suffering damage amounts.

How Will an Accident Attorney Help?

Auto insurance companies are in business to make profits, not payouts, but if you are injured – now or in the future – by another driver’s negligence, the right attorney will negotiate on your behalf for a fair and just compensation amount for your personal pain and suffering.

Proving the extent of an injury victim’s pain and suffering may be accomplished in several ways. Medical reports, medical records, and testimony or statements from your healthcare providers will be important evidence in support of your claim for pain and suffering.

Medical evidence can be enhanced with photos, personal diaries or journals, and the statements or testimony of friends and relatives regarding your emotional and physical suffering and pain.

When Should You Contact an Indiana Accident Lawyer?

As soon as possible after you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, put your case in the hands of an Indiana personal injury lawyer.

You may be contacted by an insurance company or investigator soon after an accident, and you’ll need to direct all of that company’s questions to your lawyer. Don’t answer an insurance company’s questions, make any statement, sign anything, or take a settlement offer before you consult your attorney.

What is Comparative Fault?

Indiana is an “at-fault” state, and is not a “no-fault” state, for traffic accidents. Comparative fault is the legal doctrine that governs traffic accidents and liability in Indiana.

Under comparative fault, the compensation that an injury victim may receive is determined by his or her share of fault for the accident. For instance, if you were 20 percent responsible for an accident, a $100,000 damage award would be reduced to $80,000.

However, drivers in Indiana who are 51 percent (or more) at fault for an accident are not entitled to damages or compensation under Indiana law. If there’s any dispute regarding which driver was at fault, you should be represented by an attorney who will fight aggressively on your behalf.

What Will It Cost to Exercise Your Rights?

Your first consultation with an Indiana personal injury attorney is provided at no cost and with no obligation. If a negligent driver injures you, take advantage of the opportunity to learn how the law applies in your own situation.

Personal injury lawyers in Indiana represent clients on a contingent fee basis, so you’ll pay no attorney’s fee unless and until you receive compensation. It costs you nothing to exercise your rights, and if you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in Indiana, the law will be on your side.