After filing an insurance claim for an accident, it will need to be determined how much the case is worth. In most circumstances an exact figure cannot be provided, so an insurance estimate could be given. Some claimants take this amount at face value, but there are dangers in doing this before the case has been resolved.
Why should a claimant not rely upon the estimate given for an insurance claim?
Insurance companies may utilize a claim calculator to determine how much is going to be paid. This may sound like a nice, standardized way to handle things but it has its drawbacks.
But claim calculators often only take into account damages that have a specific value attached to them such as:
- medical bills;
- repair costs;
- replacement value of vehicle; and/or
- the amount of income that has been lost.
However, there may be additional damages that are recoverable, especially when the injuries are serious or disabling. It is much more difficult to calculate the value of an injury and the impact it has had and/or will have on an individual.
Examples of serious injuries that are difficult to quantify include:
- pain and suffering;
- reduced quality of life; and
- mental anguish.
For the injured person, the value of his/her pain and suffering might be significantly more than an insurance estimate.
Estimates can also be tricky when considering future medical bills and lost wages. It may be determined that at some point in the future, additional surgery is required. This will take time to determine how much that is going to cost and the anticipated amount of time from work that will be lost.
Another important reason to not rely upon an insurance estimate is that if it’s found the injured person was partially responsible for the accident, this could reduce the amount available in the insurance claim. Let’s say a claim is believed to be worth $50,000. But the claimant is found to be 40 percent responsible. He/she would end up with only $30,000.
Even worse, if an investigation into the accident determines that the claimant was 50 percent or more at fault, no damages could be recovered. In Colorado, fault must be 49 percent or less in order to be compensated.
So there could be some negotiations that have to take place first. Throughout the negotiations process, a lot can change. Some damages might be assigned more value than originally thought. But others could be drastically reduced. And in some cases an injured person might not fully realize the value of an insurance claim until he/she has consulted with an attorney.
How can an attorney help determine a fair settlement in an insurance claim?
An individual is more likely to arrive at both a fair and full settlement with the help of an attorney. Even then, estimates are only that. It will take time to arrive at a final agreement. D.J. Banovitz can assist with the process of filing a claim and helping to provide an estimate on the damages available in a personal injury claim. Call 303-300-5060 to set up a consultation.