What role does the insurance company play in a personal injury lawsuit?

When you are involved in an accident that results in injury to you, whether it be from a car accident or a slip and fall on another person’s property, your first step in making a claim for your injuries always starts with an insurance company. It is not uncommon for an insurance company to contact you rather quickly following an accident in which you were involved. If you don’t hear from the insurance company right away, you should make contact with the person who caused your injuries, and/or the appropriate insurance company in order to let them know that you are making a claim for your injuries.
 
An insurance company is initially represented by a claims adjuster, or a person who is responsible for processing and handling your claim. You must always remember, however, that the claims adjustor is not representing your interests, but is representing the insurance company. In other words, the goal of the claims adjustor is keep costs as low as possible for the insurance company, whereas your goal is to get the best settlement possible for your claim.
 
You’ll also want to remember that you should not give detailed information to the claims adjustor about the accident or your injuries. If you give the claims adjustor these details, you might adversely affect your ability to get resolution of a claim. For instance, if you tell the claims adjustor a detail that puts you at fault for the accident, the insurance company then may not be willing to settle your claim at all. 
 
With that said, there is no reason not to speak with a claims adjustor, particularly if you have suffered only minor injuries and/or damages. The claims adjustor typically will want copies of any medical bills related to your injuries, as well as estimates to repair any damages, such as damages to your vehicle in the case of a car accident. 
 
At some point, the claims adjustor may offer you a settlement. Once you accept a settlement offer in writing, you must also sign a legal document that releases the person who caused your injuries, as well as his or her insurance company, from all further claims related to your accident. This means that once you have settled your claim, you can’t go back later and claim more medical expenses or damages arising from the accident. Therefore, if you think you will have future medical expenses as a result of the accident, then you should probably wait before settling your claim. 
 
You should carefully consider any settlement offer, taking into account all injuries that you have suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and the pain that has resulted from your accident. Every insurance company has some sort of basic formula that it uses to place a value on each claim. Also, keep in mind that if your own health insurance company paid all or part of your medical bills, then it may require you to reimburse them for those costs out of any settlement that you receive. The bottom line is that you need to think of your claim in terms of the total amount of damages that you have suffered, and come up with some sort of figure that you can live with. Hopefully, your figure will be close enough to the settlement offer that you will be able to resolve your claim without filing a lawsuit.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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