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Auto Insurance Claims/Negotiating injury claim--minor settlement--bulging disc


I was in an accident where my car was totaled (other driver , on her cell phone, attempting to make left hand turn hit us almost head-on on the front left side causing me to hit another car). the driver that hit us took full responsibility- fault is not and issue.My two young sons  3 and 5 were in the car in car seats. My older son and myself were taken to trauma center, younger daughter was checked out at scene and released. I was diagnosed with "neck strain" and released. Followed up with my primary care doctor for two weeks due to neck and knee pain. I then went to orthopedic who prescribed physical therapy. I did two months of PT, but still didn't feel right so did and MRI which showed inflammation and disc budge. So 6 more weeks of PT. I am doing better but not at the same strength I was pre-accident ( I was a runner, and very active, still can't run without neck pain). My knee has resolved.
I was offered medical bills (6,000) + $4,000 pain and suffering. I feel this is way too low. I told the adjuster that and my reasons why. He said he would take another look and get back to me.
He offered, $1,500 +bills for my older Son. Again I feel this is too low. He suffered a lot of pain for the first week after accident and anxiety that is still continuing.
And $500 for my little one said that was all they could offer since there were no bills.
So... After all that explanation, my question is, do you agree these are low offers and since their initial offer was low, do you think I can negotiate my way up to a reasonable offer or will I end up needing an attorney?
Thank you for your help.

Dear Amanda,

For auto accident insurance claims Dr. Settlement is an excellent online expert according to some reviews, BUT while I do appreciate those comments, I am NOT blessed with magical powers to bring some common sense and empathy into the work lives of some insurance adjusters.  If I could do that, I would start with your claim because the offer made for your injuries appears to be WAAAAY TOO LOW.  

If in fact you do have a bulging disc as the result of this accident, and if it is anything more than just a minor finding, then this could be a very serious problem for you in future years.  Probably you will respond favorably to conservative treatment—for now—and hopefully you will regain your activity levels soon.  But there is also the strong possibility that you could have suffered a life-long debilitating injury that will NEVER EVER actually heal itself: traumatically-induced bulging discs never ever are restored to pre-accident health—it just is not ever medically possible—all you are doing now is to quiet down the insult so that you can live with the condition.  And you could easily go many years and never have significant problems from it.  But the deficit IS THERE, and the likelihood is that at some future date, you will suffer pain from it.  And this DOOFUS adjuster thinks you ought to live with this for $4,000?

There are only two ways to go on this, Amanda: either (1) you go ahead and hire an attorney right now, OR (2) you put in the hours of work necessary to make a shot at a decent settlement first (thus saving the one-third “standard” contingency fee) and negotiate on your own—and from that effort you either get a good settlement or at the least a much better offer—and if it is not enough, then you use that increased offer to get a discount in attorney fees (which I will discuss for you later on)

I believe you came to to get some ideas on #2 above, didn’t you?  Why not take the shot on your own first and then use that increased offer to try for a discount in attorney fees if you eventually do have to hire an attorney?  But if you want to go that self-help route, it WILL TAKE WORK, Amanda.  Somebody will have to do the work an attorney’s office would have done in terms of getting the files organized and in presenting the claims.  So that person is going to be you, of course.  


AMANDA: “There is a lot to learn here and work to do.  What should I do first, and what about the offers that the adjuster made?”
Auto claims expert Dr. Settlement ANSWER: I would suggest the following as a first step plan.

What should you do first?  It will take some time to go through all of this and to do some of the work.  I do not want you to be in a hurry or to feel pressured to get a package out to the adjuster.  Hence, here is an immediate plan: while you are digesting this and getting things together, you need to first send a quick note to the adjuster.  Please see this page that follows.  
Responding to Settlement Offer From Insurance Claims Adjuster

All you need to do is to write a few sentences.  Something like this might work:

Dear DOOFUS Adjuster,

I am responding to your offers of settlement.  I am likely to accept the offer of $500 for my daughter.  But the offer of $1,500 in general damages for my son is inadequate.  Do you really think that a Settlement Guardian ad Litem would EVER recommend approval of such an award for the judge to sign off on?  

And I am speechless and I do not know what to say in response to the meager $4,000 you have offered me for not only all the  excruciating pain I have suffered to date, but the fact your insured has left me with a permanent lifelong debilitating condition that will NEVER EVER improve.

I hope that conservative treatment will allow me to resume my life as before, but the fact is: that is solely a temporary condition since a bulging disc will never repair itself—it is just not medically possible.  The insult your insured’s negligence caused will only grow worse with age.  There is a substantial risk of a light up of this condition with any kind of heavy activity.  And I will always be subject to further insult and pain with less trauma than I would have without the negligence of your insured.  

I will be gathering information to present on both of these claims in full support of award amounts that more accurately reflect the damage done by your insured.  If your insured has only minimal policy limits, I respectfully ask that you seek permission to disclose those limits to me since if we are unable to agree in the near future I would have to hire an attorney if the limits are in excess of the state minimum.   But if they are only at the minimal limits, I would continue to work with you toward an amicable settlement.

Please do not phone me again.  I request that you contact me only in writing—e-mail is fine.  I want to have your explanations of these wholly inadequate offers in writing only.  

Very Truly Yours,



Please do not “shoot the messenger” because I have written you a weighty tome when all you wanted was something short and sweet.
AMANDA: “I have better things to do than waste my time reading through a lot of extraneous garbage—what I needed is just three paragraphs telling me what I need to do next.”
Insurance claim help Dr. Settlement ANSWER: I DO “get it”, Amanda—most of us want things to be short and simple. But I do not think cutting out important topics would do justice to what I perceive to be a fairly HIGH VALUE bodily injury insurance claim (based upon the bulging disc).   Look, I, too, have better things to do than waste my time and your time—but I am asking for just about one-sixth of the time it is going to take me to write to you because I believe this is your ONE AND ONLY chance to make a settlement for something that will give you grief in later years.  

You picked the wrong expert if you wanted me to just get rid of you in quick time, as almost ninety percent here do.  They toss in a paragraph or two and advise you to see an attorney.  All I am asking for is (1) settle down and read through my “stuff”; (2) open a few of the many free legal advice www.SettlementCentral.Com injury claim help pages I am going to give you; and (3) do NOT become discouraged because this appears to be “too much work”—I am going to give you a lot, true—but the process is really simple if you take it one step at a time.  OK?

And my job is to give you good, solid information that makes sense for you to use.  I know your life has been tossed upside down by this accident, and you are tired and cranky at night after all the chores are done, and the very last thing you want to do is to sit down and work on this stuff.  But if you will just give this a chance, we can work together to make something better of what is now a pretty poor insurance claim situation.  

ONE WARNING: please do NOT look at all the long paragraphs I am going to give to you and throw up your hands and say that you do not have the time to do all of this, so you may as well just hire an attorney.  First off, you can just pick and choose from the large menu of free legal advice www.SettlementCentral.Com insurance claim tips I am going to give you.  No need to read every free page—just take what is of interest to you, OK?  Second, do not become intimidated by the length of my answer.  The entire process is not that hard—yes, it does demand some work.  But each separate task is relatively easy to learn and easy to do.  Just start with one or two items and go from there and pretty soon you will have put together a POWERFUL DEMAND PACKAGE!

Can I tell you WHY I am going to devote many hours to this case?  It is because both the adjuster and you seem to have in mind it is a sprain—a soft tissue injury that you can restore your health from with time and treatment.  BUT that MRI showing a disc problem makes this into something A LOT MORE SERIOUS.  

So I am going to give you at least four hours of my time in an effort to give you some ideas on how to approach these claims.  And while it is true that a little of what I am going to give you is information I have given to others, that does not diminish its applicability to your cases.  I will carefully put together what I think you might be able to use, while at the same time not overwhelm you with too much.  

Your duty will be to at least read some good part of what I will give to you, toss out what does not make sense to you or which you do not think you can use, but save the information and links to our car crash insurance www.SettlementCentral.Com self help website.  Those links to our personal injury claim SettlementCentral.Com tips online are all FREE to use, and I do not expect—or even wish—for you to become a member of www.SettlementCentral.Com to settle this insurance claim.  You can do this without buying that membership if you are willing to take the time to read the free links I will provide to you—at least do that, and take notes on those linked pages, and then make your claim in writing.   

Remember: do not get depressed by thinking that this looks to be waaaay to complex or waaaay to time-consuming for you to undertake.  It is my duty to give you A LOT of information just in case you might need something I otherwise would leave out.  So just know that once you do get started, the whole thing will fall into place and you will be amazed how easily everything came together.  Unless you are facing a statute of limitations time constraint, there is NO HURRY whatsoever.  A rushed settlement is in the interest of the insurance company, as I will explain below.  

I know your life must be very full as it is, and with recovery from injuries you probably do not want to take on what seems like an enormous task.  And that is fine, but it is not my job to do as ninety percent of all the other “experts” on this site do: simply tell you to get an attorney and be done with you.  That would not give you the option to at least consider going forward on your own. So at least take a look at what I am thinking about and then you can make a more informed decision.  OK?  Let’s get started then, Amanda.

We do have three distinct claims to address, so let’s start with the easiest two first (the children) and then go from there.  In all, here are the ELEVEN TOPICS I believe we need to consider in getting a handle on these two claims.

#1. Minor claims must be approved by the court.  Do NOT WAIVE this right in your son’s case.
#2. Who will pay court costs and attorney fees for my son’s claim?
#3. Do NOT SETTLE SO EARLY with a bulging disc
#4. The care and feeding of orthopedists
#5. Be an accurate historian regarding pain and especially any referred pain.
#6, Factors in valuing personal injury claims
#7. “and (my son has) anxiety that is still continuing”
#8. Learn tips on how to document, organize, and present an insurance claim
#9. Examples for you of interference with enjoyment of life
#10. Policy limits applicable here?
#11. Communicate in writing—just one or two phone calls only


#1. Minor claims must be approved by the court.  Do NOT WAIVE this right in your son’s case.
In all states, the personal injury claims of minors must be approved by a court.  The process is a bit burdensome, but it is for the protection of three parties (the minor, the tortfeasor, and the parents), and for the reasons I will give you below.  

You can sign a waiver of this process if you wish to dispose of your daughter’s claim, but the money has to be invested in a blocked account.  The adjuster knows how to do that, AND your own bank knows exactly how to do that.

As for the process your son’s claim has to go through, it is required:
(1) to make sure the settlement amount is sufficient and that the money is invested in a blocked account; and
(2) to protect the tortfeasor from the minor coming back later and claiming the settlement was not adequate; and
(3) to protect the parents from the minor coming back later and claiming the settlement was not adequate.  

Basically, an independent attorney will be appointed to review the case and to recommend to the court that the settlement should be approved, or it should be denied (usually because it is an insufficient amount).  This is called the Guardian ad Litem (GAL), or more frequently, the Settlement Guardian ad Litem (SGAL).

Based upon the recommendation of the SGAL, the court will approve the settlement and direct that the funds be paid into the registry of the court for disbursement to a blocked account in the name of the minor.  

Parents cannot use the minor’s settlement money for “stuff” (bet you did not know until today that “stuff” was a legal term, did you, Amanda?) they should pay for.

There is no access to that account until the minor is eighteen, unless there is a court-approved withdrawal for some special need of the minor that is not the ordinary duty of the parent to meet.  For example, the court will not allow a parent to invade that fund to pay for Fall going-back-to-school clothes, because that is the parent’s duty.  But minor insurance claims Dr. Settlement handled in court were allowed to be invaded when the minor did have a job, but required transportation, and the parents were allowed to use the minor’s money to buy her a car (on condition it would be transferred in to her name upon reaching majority age).

AMANDA: “What if the adjuster asks me to waive this minor settlement approval process for my son’s claim”
Insurance claim expert Dr. Settlement ANSWER: say NO!  
I do not even think that those waiver documents are legally binding upon the minor’s interests.  I do not believe the parents have the legal authority to waive a judicial review.  But we do it anyway in small claims.  In small car accident claims Dr. Settlement minor injured claimants I have in fact had my clients (the parents) sign such a document, and I myself also added my signature.  These would be only used in clear cases of minimal value where it made no sense to tie up time and expense in getting court approval.  So that would be OK for your daughter, but not for your son.

The threat of judicial review should put pressure on the adjuster.  
You do need that independent attorney to put pressure on the adjuster to offer a sufficient sum for your son.  If the adjuster knows that no attorney and no judge is going to examine this claim and settlement, there is no pressure to make the amount equal to the injury suffered by your son.  The adjuster will just do the bare minimum.

On the other hand, if the adjuster knows that a SGAL and a judge will be reviewing this award for sufficiency, then he DOES have pressure to make an adequate offer.  Does that make sense, Amanda?  See how I used this in the proposed letter I made for you, above.

So, once you do get your settlement package together, you can add something like this:
“Please remember that your offer will be reviewed by a Settlement Guardian ad Litem, who will be an experienced trial attorney.  And surely she would never recommend approval of such a paltry sum for the injuries suffered by my son.  Moreover, even if she did recommend approval, the judge who reviews the case is not at all bound by her recommendation, and may disapprove your offer.”

AMANDA: “BUT—there are many thousands of such claims settled each year without court approval.  How does that happen?”
Insurance claim expert Dr. Settlement ANSWER: Those are for small claims, and such “waivers” probably are not legally binding upon the interests of the minor in any event.

In really small claims, like that of your daughter, both the adjuster and the parents agree to waive the court process, and they sign a document so stating, and the adjuster pays out the funds.  At the minimum most adjusters, even if they get the parents to sign a waiver, insist upon the statutory (or court rule) requirement that the funds be deposited into a blocked account in the name of the minor.  The adjuster can do this, or your bank knows how to do it.


#2. Who will pay court costs and attorney fees for my son’s claim?
This is a key question because there can be substantial expenses in obtaining court approval.  Here is a very useful page from our online bodily injury www.SettlementCentral.Com minor claims website.  If shows estimated costs and it gives good arguments to make to the adjuster to make the tortfeasor pay for the court approval process.  auto accident minor claims tips.  Use this argument: “approval by the court is done for the benefit of your insured, the tortfeasor.” That should be the argument to make to the adjuster to get him to pay for the attorney to make the petition and pay the court filing fee, and to pay for the SGAL and the attorney time to go to court to obtain court approval.


#3. Do NOT SETTLE SO EARLY with a bulging disc
Please do some research on bulging discs.  See what I wrote at the beginning?  It is true.  Yes, conservative care will quiet it down and hopefully make it so you can live with the condition.  But serious bodily injury claims Dr. Settlement knows very well, and please trust my nearly four decades doing this, Amanda, you will not ever, ever be restored to good health, no matter what the adjuster says or even what your doctor says.  

And by the way, we teach our members at insurance claim tips SettlementCentral.Com pro se accident help website the TRUTH about orthopedists: yes, right now he is the most valuable part of your claim, but if you do not improve a lot within the next six to eight months, one of two things will happen to you vis-à-vis his care.  Either you will become a surgery candidate, in which case you will enjoy continued support, or you will lose support and your medical records will also lose value for insurance claims purposes BECAUSE at that point, something approaching a year in his office, if he cannot cut on you, and you are continuing to show up periodically with complaints of pain, there is no place for you in his practice.


#4. The care and feeding of orthopedists
Orthopedic doctors are well-respected for insurance claim settlement purposes.  Their work and their records are held in a lot higher esteem than general practitioners, and very much higher than “mere” chiropractors.  That is why his records now give good value to your claim.  BUT, we also teach our members how orthopedists, more so than any other specialists, can and DO put a “poison pill” in their records for patients who are not surgical but who continue to show up whining about pain a year after coming for care.  Not time or space here to explain more, but that is not a good thing for a claim, and it is done in large part to make his office and his testimony very much UNdesirable for purposes of supporting a court claim.  They absolutely hate to go to trial since that is a real burden on their practice.

What can you do, then, if you sense that the doctor, his nurse, and/or his office manager are giving signs of “patient fatigue” as I have described above?

I would first try to understand where you stand in their professional practice.  We teach our members at SCC this so they can help themselves with their relationship with the orthopedist and his staff.  SURGERY is what they DO—plain and simple.  They get paid the best money for their time when they are doing surgeries.  They do not get paid as well with mere office visits to hand-hold someone who continues to whine about pain a year after an accident.  That is just simple economics.  

You can ameliorate the situation by doing FOUR things:
A. Absolutely always follow the instructions of the orthopedist.  Document all that she is telling you to do.  If she says to go to PT and they give you home exercises to do, DOCUMENT your full and enthusiastic participation in that part of your therapy.  Make it a table with the kinds of exercises, the date done, and comments.

B Be stoic—and conservative in your descriptions of pain.  Of all the specialists, orthopedists are the most resistant to whining patients and the most supportive of stoic patients.  But AVOID diminishing your pain by using adjectives like “a little” or “for a short time”.  Document your performance of tasks notwithstanding pain.  Show that some work or tasks cause you pain, but you did them anyway.  This is called “duty under duress” for work purposes.  And BTW, “pain” suffered is not at all to be limited to pain at the moment of the task.  You must be a good historian and keep track of how that task or activity causes you pain at night or the next day.  Agreed, Amanda?

C. Avoid discussing your insurance claim or ever suggesting that you need this or that for your insurance claim.  Orthopedists will insert a poison pill more readily than any other specialists when they perceive that they are being used to support an insurance claim.  If you were to go to our bodily injury claim www.SettlementCentral.Com tips for self help site home page, you can find there two links that explain how chiropractors are patient enough to write more detailed narratives in support of insurance claims. That attitude is the direct opposite from what you will experience at your orthopedist’s office.

D. Suggest a referral to a neurologist at the first sign of referred pain.  See the following regarding impingement.  When we have nerve damage, a neurologist might be a proper specialist to take over the case.  That gets you out of the orthopedist’s office in a good, tactful way, and into a discipline that is a bit (maybe a LOT) more friendly to patients who have an insurance claim.


#5. Be an accurate historian regarding pain and especially any referred pain.
While I do hope you will recover and have your health restored insofar as your ability to resume some physical activities, I also worry that your disc may get triggered by some future activity, and start radiating pain.  Do NOT IGNORE radiating pain—keep good track of when you had it, where it radiated to, how long it lasted, and whether any physical activity seemed to cause it.

Radiating pain equals nerve impingement (e.g. abnormal pressure is exerted on the nerves of the spine).  This does not have to be some gross smashing of the disc to produce that kind of pain.  But it could simply be just abnormal pressure being exerted on the nerves of the spine.  


#6, Factors in valuing personal injury claims

What follows below in the eleven points is kind of general stuff that I am putting in here to see if it will trigger any ideas for you.

There is totally insufficient information to even be able to guess at the values of these two claims.  Not enough of the kinds of facts that we list below to have much idea of value.  About all I would venture on your son is that it does seem about half the value, but that is WITHOUT the emotional distress (i.e. anxiety).  If you follow my advice on this topic, below, then the value of the claim will be increased on account of provable emotional distress.

As for your claim, the offer is real light even if you just had a stubborn soft tissue sprain.  But with a MRI showing a bulging disc that you did not ever have before, then the value is many times the offer he made.

Just skim the following for ideas:

Learn about valuation topics.  SOME TIPS ON VALUATION—these are loose guidelines only, since we are prohibited from giving valuation on big cases in light of the exposure to a malpractice claim.  The owners here do not want to take that risk.  What if I told you that your claim was worth $25,000 and you settled for that amount, but later learned that it was really worth $100K?  Best to see one of those “no fee initial consultation” lawyers and let her go thru your medicals and get her ideas of valuation.  

How does one figure out what to ask for?  Quick Answer: get as much as you can.  Figure out what would make you happy, and increase that amount by at least 50%!  The value is what you and the adjuster agree it will be.  Well, if that is not scientific enough for you, let’s learn a bit more about valuation of personal injury claims.

Valuation is not like going to a drive-in for a fast food meal.  It takes time and study of many factors, including liability and medical records.  Plus, one would like to meet the claimant to see how she will “sell” to the other side and to the jury.  Those online sources that mention a "rule of thumb" is just that: a gross estimate.

SHORT ANSWER: A common theme among those who still think a “rule of thumb” formula will put you in the valuation ballpark is to multiply the medical specials times a number from ONE to FIVE (depending upon factors, some of which I will give you later—or all of which are fully discussed in the members' side of our website, dealing with insurance settlements www.SettlementCentral.Com  ).  Then that figure is the total value of the personal injury portion of the claim.  Of course there is a long list of factors to consider for adding or deducting from the total.

Let's take a look just one example that put the lie to the general use of this rule of thumb.  An obvious one is that of some injuries for which the medical treatment costs are low, but the pain may persist.  There may have been just low treatment costs per se for your disc injury, yet those dollars should be valued at more than office bodily treatment dollars since they would be for a significant interference with your life and well-being inasmuch as the pain could come back in later years.  

A second, not so obvious, but very important factor that shows how inaccurate a “rule of thumb” formula can be is just plain location of the trial.  Let's start with geography.  Values differ from state to state, and within each state.  City values are often different than rural values on claims, especially if the economy is tenuous in small towns.  And the differences can be HUGE between these areas, even if only 20 miles apart.  Washington is a good state, but within that state, jury verdicts will differ wildly between Bellevue and Shelton.  

Here is a listing of factors that will affect both the multiplier you will use, as well as the value of the claim inasmuch as they will increase or decrease the product of your multiplication.  But heed my warning above: a continuing painful situation like yours, that does not have a lot of medical expenses attached to its treatment, will be undervalued using this approach.

This is a big one because it most dramatically affects value.  You should NOT ACCEPT any reduction in value for fault.  

2. Trauma suffered
The value of your claim increases with a bigger crash or hit, and decreases with a low accident. Why? Just human nature.  You had a hard trauma it sounds like.  So this is a PLUS for your side.  

3. Medical special damages
Cost of medical and related health care expenses; higher costs usually equate to an increase in value (excepting, of course, cases of gross overtreatment).  

4. Type of injury
Where does the injury fall within the insurance industry's "hierarchy list" of valuing injuries?  Irrespective of which injury may cause more pain, injuries are valued according to seriousness, tendency to be persistent or permanent, and whether or not they need objective proof to be believed (e.g. a bulging disc versus soft tissue strain).  The problem with soft tissue pain is that it is could be subjective, but the disc is shown on the MRI.  

5. Type of medical care
Where does the medical care fall within the insurance industry's "hierarchy list" of valuing medical care?  Orthopedists at the top, chiropractors near the bottom.  You are using both a medical doctor, and an orthopedist, so that is well above the middle

6. Prognosis- future care—permanency of injury or pain and suffering—does your doctor recommend 6 months of care, or were you done treating 4 months ago?   Even if you are done treating, will the doctor predict future problems?  BIG QUESTION here is how he will predict problems five years from now.

7. Your medical and claims history, prior accidents, prior injuries or treatment of the same area of the body.

8. Impairment of quality of life.  Emotional distress fits in here.  I will give an example of interference with daily life below.

9. Quality and persistence of pain suffered.

10. Quality and thoroughness of her medical records.

11. Lost wages.  


#7. “and (my son has) anxiety that is still continuing”
You can use your own auto insurance PIP or MedPay to have your son see is doctor and for you to discuss this anxiety.  Left alone, anxiety can continue and lead to symptoms the same as depression.  So it is important to at least mention this to his doctors.

The other reason to have a least one medical record reflect a conversation on this topic is that such anxiety is compensable.  It is called emotional distress, and it is a compensable element of your son’s claim.  BUT ONLY IF THERE IS A MEDICAL RECORD of it.  

He does not have to engage in any treatment plan or take medication to be compensated.  But he will not ever be compensated unless you get him to discuss it with his doctor and the doctor includes that in his medical records.


#8. Learn tips on how to document, organize, and present an insurance claim
DO LEARN about how to make your own personal injury insurance claim settlement www.SettlementCentral.Com free legal information will help.  Learn how to handle a SELF-HELP AUTO ACCIDENT INSURANCE SETTLEMENT

www.SettlementCentral.Com free samples—this is just in case you want to take a shot at doing some of this on your own.  OK, let’s look at self-help methods of resolving your claim.  Learn how to settle her personal injury insurance claim AND DO IT YOURSELF.

Here is a series of pages that you can review.  Take what makes sense to you and don't worry about the rest.  Just get a flavor of how the system works without spending a ton of time right now.   

Just skim this one and don't spend much time on it: overview Tort Law Personal Injury Legal Claims

Managing Medical Care After Auto Accident:

Medical Care Documentation-the Key to Successful Personal Injury Insurance Claim Settlements


Use a Confidential Personal Injury Diary for TOP DOLLAR Insurance Claim Settlements

Outline of questions to be expected from insurance claims adjuster

Detailed listing of questions to be expected from insurance claims adjuster

By the way, did you know that getting an early settlement is a favorite trick of the insurance adjusters?  Please see our website wherein we show Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics

Responding to Settlement Offer From Insurance Claims Adjuster

Do It Yourself Advantages, or do these claims need an attorney?  As for an ATTORNEY, this does not seem to be a case that involves any legal issues in dispute nor any large or complex damages.  Why should you pay someone one-third to do what you can do yourself?  Do-It-Yourself Personal Injury Claims; Eliminate Personal Injury Attorneys' Fees; Save Thousands of Dollars Settling Your Own Insurance Claim

Without having to join our website, I have given a lot of free information on handling insurance claims without having to join as a member.  Read the module at "5 Easy Steps to Do-it-Yourself Insurance Claim Settlement"

This stuff is not rocket science, but it will take some effort on your part to read and cut and paste letter examples and to communicate.  But hundreds of people are doing it each day, and they are getting good results.  

TAKE AN OFFER to an attorney and demand she exempt some of that from her fee.
What if you get only two-thirds the way to your settlement goal?  Well, you can get as big a settlement as you can and then turn it over to an attorney and save a lot of fees.  Thus, you could go it alone just to get an insurance settlement offer, and then take that insurance settlement offer to a personal injury attorney, thus exempting the amount of the offer from her fees.  Do It Yourself Personal Injury Settlement Offer Reduces Personal Injury Attorney Fees

GET WITNESS STATEMENTS: you can use family members and co-workers to make witness statements.  Witness Statements Settle Personal Injury Insurance Claims

Here are two pages that tell what to do now if you have already given a recorded statement to the adjuster.  Recorded or Written Statement To The Adjuster After Injury Accident?  What to do if you have already given a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster


#9. Examples for you of interference with enjoyment of life
Just a couple of ideas of the kinds of topics you might consider putting in a letter to the adjuster.  
ACTIVITIES.  In the last seven years before this accident, I was able to participate in the following physical activities without suffering pain afterwards.  By comparison, following the injury at the hands of your insured, I was unable to do these activities without suffering pain, although not immediate pain.  Usually I was able to do the activity and then I would notice the pain that night or in some cases, the next day or days.
•   Work.  DUTY UNDER DURESS.  As shown in my medical records, much of my work time was necessarily spent driving, servicing the customers of our business, and THAT activity did cause a lot of pain.  Spending even ten minutes behind the wheel during the first four months after this accident put a stress on my back and my neck.  I had an important schedule of client work to attend to and I was not willing to just take sick leave and let the care of our business customers go until I was fixed and stable.  Hence, even though I could have had a medical note to excuse my absence, I elected to perform my duties under the duress of the pains that came with my near-daily driving.  [Note Michelle: “duty under duress” is a trigger for payment in computer valuation software.]
•   Home.  I had trouble carrying in the groceries.  I was not able to carry in two plastic bags for each hand, as was my practice, or else I would feel pain the next day or so.  I was not sleeping as well as before this accident.  Mopping and getting down to clean the bathroom tub for instance was difficult.  I could not do it at all for the first four months until I improved.  Even simple chores like doing the dishes, cleaning up the kitchen did not cause immediate pain, but I could feel pain later in the evening.    
•   Recreation.  I was in excellent athletic shape an a regular runner.  After this accident, I noticed I could not even go halfway around a large store without having to endure pain in my neck and arm and back later that night.   It would start with my feeling stiffness developing in my neck and my lower back.  If I ignored it and kept walking, as in a mall, the stiffness always later on turned to pain.  My husband and I used to enjoy (list activities and what you could not do)


#10. Policy limits applicable here?
If you do ever contract with an attorney, AND if in fact you do have something other than a very small mild disc bulge, then IMO you should make provision for greatly reduced attorney fees in the event the tortfeasor has only minimal policy limits.  Here is why.

A personal injury claim based upon a bulging disc that was not there prior to the accident, in which the doctor can say that at some future time you are more likely than not going to be more susceptible to a painful condition than a person with a completely healthy disc, then the value of that claim is easily in excess of $25,000.

And if the tortfeasor’s policy limits are only $25,000, and you already have $6K in medical costs, then a blind dog with a note in its mouth could get those limits.  Why would you pay an attorney one-third to do something that would take like a two paragraph letter to do?

Hence, the suggestion that you discuss this and make a special exception to the fees if the limits are at your state’s minimum.  Suggest that the fees in that case be either hourly or something like one-tenth, whichever is lower.  

If you are handling the claim and the adjuster discloses that he cannot pay full value because his insured has only minimal limits, then you need to bone up on what to do BEFORE you agree to accept the limits.  

We have an entire Policy Limits Module to show our members how to handle such claims.  But here is a free page that at least gives you some road map of what you need to do.  Bottomline, you have to do what we suggest if you want to make a Underinsured Motorist Coverage claim (UIM) under your own insurance, OR if your company is going to seek subrogation from the tortfeasor’s limits to repay what special damage sums it has paid out to you (most often that would be medical costs and lost wages).  

Directory of Legal Information on Liability Insurance Policy Limits Settlements in Personal Injury Insurance Injury Claims: Car Accident Injuries.

Introduction to Subrogation— Forced Payback to YOUR OWN Insurer From Your Personal Injury Award


#11. Communicate in writing—just one or two phone calls only
Learn how to communicate with the insurance adjuster: FINAL TOPIC—COMMUNICATE IN WRITING AND "DEMAND" NOT "ASK"

FINAL TOPIC, Amanda: Effective communication with insurance claims adjusters.  Establish Firm, Professional, and Positive Relationships With the Insurance Injury Claims Adjuster

Always communicate with the adjuster in writing, showing your own analysis of value. It is OK I guess to have one call or so, but no more.   Always have your information and ammunition in writing to give to the adjuster.  E-mail is the preferred means since it is fast and provides evidence of what was said.

Let him know that you are FIRM IN YOUR RESOLVE to get what you are demanding (NOT "asking", since that invites a counter-offer, but instead "demanding" as fair and reasonable compensation) by asking her what the options are to resolve the matter fairly should he not agree to a reasonable claim value. In other words, let her know that you will go through with a court filing if need be.

Remember these tips, do your homework, print out your evidence, show resolve to get your fair settlement, and you will DO JUST FINE.

OK, Amanda, that is about it for my ideas on the insurance claims for both you and your son.  I trust that my extra time here has produced some information that has been of value to you, and thus I would respectfully request that you take the time to locate the FEEDBACK FORM on this site and leave some feedback for me.  It is really important for experts to receive such feedback grades since that is how other accident victims can best find someone who will really take the time necessary to help them.  So your remarks will be an aid to those who come in the future.

Best Wishes,

Dr. Settlement, J.D. (Juris Doctor)

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Doctor Settlement


27 years of front line plaintiff`s trial lawyer experience in PERSONAL INJURY INSURANCE CLAIMS. Along with other attorneys and insurance adjusters, we have created a website to help injured people settle their own personal injury claims. With the help from feedback from hundreds of satisfied members, has become THE AUTHORITY for Internet personal injury insurance claim settlements. I am humbled and honored if people can benefit from my experience and current volunteer work in helping injured people. I hope I can explain things in a manner that is useful for the questioner. If not, do not hesitate to e-mail me and I will take a second shot at it! Best Wishes for your physical and financial recovery.


Life Experience: 27 years of front line plaintiff's trial lawyer experience

American Trial Lawyers Association
Washington State Trial Lawyers Association

Publications: (Click on Title to Read)
Statute of Limitations
Vehicle Accident
Demand Letters
Policy Limits

Education/Credentials: J.D. (Juris Doctor) 1977

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