THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM PROVIDES COMPASSIONATE AND AGGRESSIVE LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR CAR ACCIDENT VICTIMS IN CHARLESTON, SUMMERVILLE, AND THE SOUTH CAROLINA LOW COUNTRY
One unavoidable part of being a victim of a car accident that is the fault of someone else is the process of filing and pursuing your claim for any injuries you may have suffered. The very first action that will be taken by the insurance company once you open a claim is the assignment of an "adjuster" to handle your claim. The adjuster will be your contact point for all conversations concerning your claim. The adjuster will also be the individual whom you send your medical bills, doctors' treatment notes, lost wage verification, and other pertinent documents needed to support your claim. The adjuster will be the gatekeeper to the resolution of your claim, both for the amount paid and as to how quickly your claim can be resolved.
The second unavoidable part of being an innocent car accident victim is that the adjuster will use every trick in the book to delay and undervalue your claim for injuries. The adjuster owes no loyalty to you as an injured party. In fact, adjusters are trained to stall payments and minimize payments to the greatest extent possible to increase profits for the insurance company. In most cases, the income earned by an adjuster is directly related to their ability to minimize settlements and increase profits.
In this article, I will discuss the job of an insurance adjuster, their role in managing an injury claim, and how they can put up resistance to keep you from payment for your injuries.
WHAT IS AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER
Insurance adjusters may be referred to by any number of terms. For example, an adjuster can be called a claims representative, claims specialist, or a claims analyst, among other terms. Insurance adjusters primarily work directly for the insurance company, but it is becoming more common for insurance adjusters to be employed by third party companies that are contracted by insurance companies. No matter who they work for, insurance adjusters are highly trained and armed with a database of information to do one thing . . . reduce the amount of exposure the insurance company has to payouts. Let me repeat that because it is that important:
The primary job of any insurance adjuster is not to be deliver fair results or be some harbinger of justice . . . The adjuster's job is to maximize company profits by reducing the amount paid out in claims to injured parties!
THE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT PROCESS WITH THE ADJUSTER
Claims adjusters receive specialized training in not only the numbers involved with settling injury claims, but also and more importantly in the psychology of settling a claim. Adjusters routinely begin negotiating with an injured party by offering platitudes of sympathy and offering words of comfort. However, when the rubber meets the road and the numbers take center stage, the adjuster will still greet you with a smile while offering an initial very low ball offer that may not even cover your medical bills, with the goal to get you to settle and sign a release as quickly as possible.
The internal job performance of an insurance adjuster is evaluated on several main considerations:
- How cheap can a claim be settled? The earning potential of an adjuster, beyond any base salary, is directly affected by how much they can save on settlement of a claim. In other words, adjusters have the potential to earn substantial income bonuses simply by how much they can save on a claim versus what any expected value is assigned to a claim by the insurance company.
Example: An accident victim files a claim for injuries with Company X. The adjuster from Company X crunches the numbers and determines that the claim may be worth $50,000.00. The adjuster makes an initial offer of $10,000.00 to the victim. After several discussions, the claim is settled for $25,000.00. The adjuster managed to settled the claim for half of his/her assigned value. Those savings can be used to determine a bonus to be paid to the adjuster.
2. How quickly can the claim be resolved? In addition to the amount of the settlement of a claim, adjusters also earn bonuses and promotions on the speed at which a claim is handled. What would be the connection between the amount a claim is settled for and the speed at which a claim is settled for? Claims that are settled quickly payout a fraction of the value of claims that are vetted simply because the accident victim is desperate for access to any funds and will jump on any offer, and . . .
The insurance adjuster knows the more quickly that a claim can be settled means that the injured victim is less likely to seek advice from legal counsel concerning the value of the claim.
3. How many claims can the adjuster dispose of without escalating the case to a supervisor? The claims adjuster also has a financial incentive and promotion potential tied into how many total claims are processed without intervention by a claims supervisor. The adjuster will frequently tell the injured party that they have a maximum "authority" that can be used to settle a case. The adjuster will say that he/she can not go above that figure to settle. First of all, that is usually not true. The authority will always be higher than what the adjuster tells you it is. Secondly, many times the adjuster will have a preset limit on how much they settle the case for, and it will be lower than the actual value assigned to the case by a claims supervisor. If the adjuster can settle the case for this depressed value, not only did the claims supervisor not have to enter negotiations, but once again the adjuster has delivered a settlement for below actual value.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
The biggest advantage you have over the insurance adjuster in any negotiation is that you know your claim. The adjuster will be preoccupied with the numbers and will be swamped by many other claims. The adjuster will only have a superficial understanding of your claim.
You, on the other hand, are the expert of your claim. You have the medical bills, the treatment notes, the photos, the police report, and the other evidence you've collected at the accident scene. You know the details of what's happened and can articulate the extent of your injuries to an adjuster and, if needed, a jury.
Though this personal experience gives you a major edge in the process, there is still one piece to the puzzle that any injured victim of a car accident in Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, and Beaufort Counties will need to be successful . . . \
HIRE AN ATTORNEY
The role of the attorney in any claim for personal injuries resulting from a car accident is indispensable. First of all, a quality personal injury attorney will leverage the facts of the case and the law to push for a fair resolution to your claim. A quality personal injury attorney will "speak the language" in a sense and lay out in legal terms the exposure faced by the insurance company. Secondly, a quality personal injury attorney will know how to properly value your claim. Hiring an attorney will give the client a source of information to guide the client into accepting a just settlement, or will also provide the client with the information needed to make an informed decision to go to trial. In no uncertain terms, many insurance adjusters will simply not take you or your injuries seriously unless you make the decision to get an attorney involved and show that you are serious about protecting your rights.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM
DEDICATED TO SERVING FAMILIES OF ACCIDENT VICTIMS IN CHARLESTON, SC AND THE SOUTH CAROLINA LOWCOUNTRY
As an attorney with experience in car accidents and the insurance claims process, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and earn just compensation for you and your loved ones due to an unfortunate set of events. Through my efforts, I can bring about much needed financial relief to the innocent victim of a car accident. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case.
Being an experienced personal injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligent or reckless acts of another in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306