How Are Injuries Valued by Insurance Companies?
One of the reasons that it’s important to have a lawyer on your side is because accidents and injuries do not come with a clear price tag. The insurance company determined to be responsible for the accident will make you an offer, but will it be fair? If the offer they make you isn’t fair, what recourse do you have to get a better offer?
Main Elements to an Injury Claim
Typically, the amount paid to an injury victim is calculated based on some combination of these four key items as they apply to your specific situation. For an analysis of what types of compensation your specific injury may be eligible for, contact me for a free initial consultation.
1. Missed Wages - If you missed time from work as a result of your injury, you should be compensated for the missed wages. This includes time that you were unable to work because of the injury as well as time taken off of work for follow-up appointments or other rehabilitation.
2. Medical Expenses - All of your medical expenses should be covered in the claim. Any expenses that are not covered in the claim will likely be denied by your personal health insurance carrier. As soon as your health insurance is aware that the injury you were treated for was the result of an accident, they will look to hold another insurance policy responsible. This process can get very complex and confusing, as most insurance companies are very good at denying claims, but not very good at communicating with other companies to see who should actually be paying the claim. If you accept a claim from the insurance company responsible that doesn’t cover all of your expenses you can end up being personally responsible for medical bills.
3. Pain & Suffering - Obviously, someone’s pain is not something we can measure, and translating it into a dollar amount is even more difficult. Because this is a number that is negotiable and not tied to any firm amount, the insurance company will offer you as little as possible. Without in-depth knowledge of injury and recovery law, how do you know what’s fair?
4. Diminished Capacity - If you simply miss work, you are paid for the time you can’t work. But what happens when someone is permanently injured and unable to continue working at the same level or at the same job as they were before the accident? What if you did not have an income (stay at home parent or spouse) but are now unable to carry out tasks around the house? How is that translated into a dollar figure? Cases where the injured person is owed money because of a loss of future earning / income potential are complex and require effective and knowledgable advocacy.
Why it is difficult to evaluate an injury claim
The key thing to remember about making a financial recovery after an accident or injury is that you’re not dealing with tangible numbers or hard figures. If you trust the insurance company, there is a good chance that you will end up receiving the bare minimum that they can convince you to settle for. If you hire a lawyer to protect your interests, you balance the scales and have a far better chance of getting what you are entitled to.