If you are involved in a crash in Colorado which is not your fault, it is often an overwhelming experience. You may be dealing with injuries and pain, losing income if you are unable to work, and stressing about the medical bills which start rolling in.
On top of this, you may be inundated by calls from adjusters requesting statements and information about your condition which you may not be ready to answer. You did not ask to be hit by a careless driver, but you are suffering the consequences nonetheless, and it can difficult to know what to do.
Taking Advantage of Early Cooperation
In an effort to be as cooperative as possible, many claimants do whatever they can to please the adjuster for the at-fault insurance company. They are happy to provide recorded statements and sign blanket releases as they believe this is the best way to settle the claim quickly and fairly.
However, the adjusters for at-fault parties are not on your side, and they can use those medical releases to obtain unrelated, privileged medical records or use the recorded statements against you in the future. It is your right to limit the information available to the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster to protect your own privacy. Requirements for cooperation are different when you are dealing with your own insurance company, so be sure to contact an attorney if you have questions about whether you need to cooperate with an adjuster.
Early Settlement Offers
Many claimants express the wish to “just be done with it,” and we have seen a trend lately wherein insurance companies take advantage of that instinct, offering early settlements which undervalue the claim. While it may seem like a good idea to put the accident behind you and move forward with your life, there can be devastating consequences for your case if you accept an offer before you know the full extent of your damages:
Unforeseen Medical Complications
You may assume that your neck or back pain will resolve rather quickly with a few physical therapy appointments. However, as you return to activities you were able to do prior to the crash, you may find the pain or mobility issues recur.
Sometimes a doctor may decide that after conservative measures have failed, injections or surgery may be required. However, if you have settled your claim before knowing the extent of the treatment you needed, you cannot go back and reopen your claim for any reason, so you will be stuck paying for any additional treatment with your own dollar.
Duty to Pay Back Your Insurance
You may be required to pay back your health insurance company from any settlement you receive, a process called “subrogation.” Many different factors and laws affect an insurance company’s ability to subrogate a claim, but if you have settled a claim prematurely, you may not have taken into account what your insurance company has paid and what might need to be paid back. You may owe the entirety of your settlement proceeds to your health insurance company, or, if you did not have health insurance, the hospital may have filed a lien for your treatment, perhaps exceeding the settlement amount, which you are required to pay.
Discounting the Cost of Your Medical Bills
You may have avoided the trap of accepting a premature settlement offer, but this does not mean you will necessarily receive a fair settlement offer from the at-fault insurance company. Recently, we have seen multiple adjusters reduce the amount of the medical bills incurred by a claimant with the argument that the charged amounts are not reasonable.
Despite the fact there is no evidence to support their claims that a medical bill is unreasonable, nor can they point to any local medical providers who would accept their discounted amount for treatment, insurance companies continue to instruct their adjusters to slash the amount of accepted medical bills, thereby slashing the value of the claim. If the amount of the medical bills is not being fairly evaluated, it is likely the entirety of the claim will be undervalued by the adjuster.
Contact an Attorney to Discuss Your Case
Insurance trends change often with corporate policies or as the result of legal precedents. If you are concerned that you are not being treated fairly, contact an attorney to discuss your case. The Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson has been handling personal injury cases for over 30 years and can help you assess your claim.