During your auto accident settlements negotiations, you may come across an auto insurance adjuster who is unwilling to give you a fair settlement amount. If this happens, there are several things you can do to increase your car accident claim.
There are certain key phrases that will make an auto insurance adjuster take notice. Saying "bad faith" is one of them. Under the law, it is the insurance company's duty to act fairly (in "good faith") when dealing with its insurer. If the insurance company violates this agreement, meaning acting in "bad faith", then you can sue them.
Some things that can be considered acting in bad faith by the auto claims adjuster are:
Suggesting "bad faith" is more useful against your own insurance company than against another driver's provider. This is because your insurance company has a higher responsibility to act in good faith towards you, than another driver's insurer would be.
You should use the bad faith argument, against another driver's insurance company, if it has clearly committed fraud or lied to you. However, you should remember that disagreeing over your settlement offer does not mean "bad faith". But, refusing to justify the low settlement is considered "bad faith".
If you believe the insurance company is acting in bad faith, bring this up during your conversation with the insurance adjuster. If you are still unable to increase your car accident settlement, put your accusation of bad faith in writing. Then in your letter, explain your interaction with the adjuster and how the insurance company is acting in bad faith.
For example, the auto adjuster wants to settle for $500 when your injuries are clearly worth close to $3,000. Explain how the auto adjuster refuses to explain the auto accident settlements amount and is unwilling to cooperate with you.
(Read personal injury settlements calculator to see how much your auto accident settlements are worth.)
A written accusation will make the insurance company take notice and take prompt action. If the reasons in the letter are valid, then the insurance company may be liable to pay you much more than your car accident settlement.
Winning bad faith cases is usually tough in courts and what is considered bad faith usually varies from state to state. However, merely suggesting bad faith can nudge the auto adjuster to reconsider the auto accident settlements and negotiate with you.
The last thing any accident adjuster wants is a lawsuit. A lawsuit means prolonging your car accident claim and hiring expensive personal injury lawyers. Both of these are extremely expensive and time consuming for the insurance company.
The adjuster definitely wants to avoid this. Besides the increased cost, the adjuster wants to avoid a blemish on his or her record, for being unable to close your car accident claim quickly and cheaply.
Let the adjuster know that if you are unable to get a fair auto accident settlements claim by a certain date, you will be forced to file a lawsuit and hire an attorney.
Most people do not want to hire a personal injury claims lawyer because they fear that it will be too expensive. This is true since motor vehicle accident attorneys can take anywhere between 30-55% of your final auto accident settlement.
However, you can also meet with a personal injury claims lawyer on an hourly basis to review your car accident settlements. This is especially helpful if there is some issue of liability or some technical insurance jargon that you don't understand.
You can talk with the accident lawyer to get some suggestions or key phrases to mention during your negotiation with the auto adjuster. Injecting some legal keywords and phrases may just be the thing to trigger a higher auto accident settlements claim for you.
If you are unhappy with your settlement offer, let the auto adjuster know that you have consulted with an attorney and are prepared to let your lawyer handle the claim. This should make the adjuster reconsider his or her settlement offer.
(Note: If you decide to consult with a lawyer on an hourly basis, ask the lawyer what is their hourly rate and then get it in writing. To avoid being over billed, let the personal injury lawyer know how many hours you want them to work beforehand.)
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