We see it all the time. A person is injured in a crash, makes a claim for damages with the other driver’s insurance carrier, and the carrier offers some piddling amount that doesn’t even cover medical bills. They are playing it like a good major league pitcher: they throw you curveballs in the dirt to see if you’ll swing.
What can you do to fight back?
First off, what are you entitled to? An injured person can claim damages for medical expenses owed or paid by health insurance, wage loss (even if you used sick time), and pain and suffering and emotional distress. The state minimum insurance limit is $15,000 per person. If you had to take an ambulance to the ER, had some diagnostic testing and missed some work, your claim could be worth $15,000 right then and there. If you demand the policy limit and they refuse to pay it, the carrier can sometimes be forced to pay a higher judgment that you obtain in court– this is called “opening the policy.”
If your case is small, you can negotiate with the carrier and if they won’t pay, tell them you’ll
file in small claims court. Most carriers will offer their best money before the small claims hearing occurs.
If you have a larger case involving broken bones or surgery, you will want to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to push for the best settlement number. Statistics show that people do so much better with a lawyer that it more than offsets the attorney fees.