Why Did the Insurance Company Make Me a Such a Lowball Settlement Offer After I Was Injured in a Flo
You’ve been injured in a Florida car accident. Because of your injuries, you are now forced to seek medical treatment. This will require many visits to various doctors. During this time, you have also been unable to work. This means that you have little to no income to support your household. On top of all this, you now have a bunch of medical bills to deal with, and your falling deeply into debt. This could have all been avoided if the other driver was simply paying attention.
Luckily for you, the at-fault driver was responsible and had insurance. Because the crash wasn’t your fault, you are going to seek recovery for your damages from the insurance company. So, when the time is right, you submit your demand to the insurance company and include all of the bills and medical records to support your claim. You feel certain that the insurance company will do what is right and pay your claim since all of your doctors agree that you were seriously injured as a result of the crash. To your surprise, however, the insurance company offers you mere pennies.
Unfortunately, this scenario is an all too common occurrence. Insurance companies routinely respond to valid personal injury claims with lowball offers. This is true even in some cases involving very serious injuries. When this happens, it’s hard not to get frustrated, especially with the financial stress you may be under. The question is, Why do Insurance Companies do this? and What Can You do About it?
Reasons for Low-Ball Offers
Insurance companies will often give you many reasons why they believe their lowball offer is fair. Some of the more common excuses for failing to offer fair compensation include:
Pre-Existing Condition: The insurance company will almost always try to argue that your injury was not caused by the accident. Instead, they will claim that your condition is a pre-existing condition, for which they have no responsibility. For example, unless you are a teenager, most people will have some degree of degeneration in their spine. This is more commonly called “aging.” Unfortunately, we all do it. However, in a spine injury case, the insurance company will argue that these signs of aging are what are causing your problems, not an acute injury that was caused by the accident. This is why insurance companies routinely ask for prior medical records. They want to see if you’ve ever complained of, or ever had any prior symptoms that are similar to those you are currently experiencing. If so, this will negatively affect any settlement offer the insurance company makes to you.
Gaps in Treatment: The insurance company will also look for what they consider to be gaps in treatment. A gap in treatment is a period of time in which there is no treatment at all. This could be for as little as a matter of weeks, or even months. Insurance companies believe that if your injured, you will consistently treat with a doctor. If there is a gap in treatment, this means that any injury you may have suffered from the accident has resolved, and any further treatment after the gap is now unrelated to the accident. The longer the gap, the better for the insurance company.
Medical Bills are Too High/Low: Insurance companies always look to the medical bills to assess the severity of an injury. The belief is that if the bills are low, then you could not possibly have suffered a serious injury in the accident. In contrast, if your bills are what they consider to be too high, they will also argue that you are “milking” your injury and running up bills just for your personal injury case. In either scenario, the amount the insurance company will be willing to offer will be affected.
Little or No Visible Property Damage: Many Florida car accidents occur at speeds of 10 mph or less. This often results in little to no visible property damage. In cases where there is little to no visible property damage, the insurance company is unlikely to offer you much as they believe you cannot get seriously injured in what they consider to be a low impact accident.
These are just a few of the more common reasons insurance companies give to support a low settlement offer.
What if There is No Valid Reason to Support a Lowball Offer?
Unfortunately, for some insurance companies and adjusters, there may be other, more questionable motives for making lowball offers.
For example, in a recent bad faith case, it was discovered that GEICO had an internal policy of provoking injured claimants into filing lawsuits if it had what it believed to be any “rational basis” for its lower evaluation of a liability claim. This was true even if GEICO’s evaluation was only a couple of thousand dollars less than the claimant’s settlement offer.
In addition, it was also discovered that GEICO would track the amount (monthly and yearly) that its adjusters and managers would pay out on liability claims on average. It would then assign a score to it. The lower the amount paid out on average (Average Loss Payments), the higher the score that would be assigned to the particular adjuster or manager. These scores would then be used in reviews to determine things such as raises, bonuses, promotions, and job retention. As you can see, this type of practice places pressure on individuals within the company to perform. Unfortunately, this pressure to perform is not only to the detriment of its insureds but also to the victims who deserve to be compensated for the injuries they have suffered. See, Gonzalez v. GEICO Gen. Ins. Co., 2016 WL 2759130 (M.D. Fla. 2016).
Regardless of an insurance company’s reasons or motives in failing to offer fair compensation for your damages, it is important that you hire an experienced Ruskin personal injury attorney to assist you in holding the insurance company accountable and in recovering the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
If you have questions about your Florida accident case, you can download our Free Reports:
which are available on our website, or you can click the link provided. You can also contact us at (813) 419-3866 to talk directly to a Ruskin personal injury attorney now.