How Insurance Companies Value Personal Injury Claims
Oklahoma is an at-fault state for accident claims, meaning it matters who caused the accident resulting in your injury, whether it’s a car accident, slip-and-fall accident, or any other injury caused by the negligence of another. If both parties are found to have contributed to the accident, the state’s comparative fault laws determine the amount of compensation by determining the percentage of each party’s blame. For instance, if you were 25% at fault, a $100,000 court award would reduce to $75,000.
After a traumatic accident, your first priority is to take care of your health and begin working toward the best possible physical recovery from your injuries. But when the medical bills start mounting, many accident victims begin wondering how insurance companies determine the value of a personal injury claim and whether or not their expenses and losses will be fully covered. Even worse, many times an insurance representative will call very soon after an accident with a low settlement offer before you can even fully understand the extent of your upcoming medical costs and lost wages during recovery. It’s best to speak to an Oklahoma personal injury attorney about your accident but it helps to understand exactly how insurance companies value personal injury claims.
What the Liable Party’s Insurance Company Must Pay
Once a party is proven liable in a personal injury case, their insurance must pay out compensation for specific damages. These include:
- Property damage, such as a damaged vehicle in a car accident or a damaged smartphone in a slip-and-fall accident
- The total amount of the injury victim’s medical bills and often an estimated amount for future medical expenses related to the injury
- The total amount of lost wages during your treatment and recovery, and estimated lost future earnings for ongoing treatment such as upcoming surgeries or physical therapy
- Monetary compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life. While these are intangible losses, they have a negative impact on an accident victim’s quality of life and deserve compensation.
While it’s easy to calculate economic losses with a specific sum, non-economic losses are more difficult to assign a cash value. Insurance companies commonly use many tactics to attempt to undervalue an injury victim’s economic losses and even more frequently undervalue or deny outright a victim’s claims for non-economic losses.
A skilled personal injury attorney in Oklahoma City knows how to collect evidence and present a personal injury case in a well-crafted demand letter to an insurance company to maximize the chance for a full payout on economic and non-economic losses.
In most cases, the insurance companies settle out of court, but a strong litigator will be ready to fight aggressively for your compensation in court if necessary in order to seek the maximum compensation for your injury.
How Insurance Companies Arrive at a Number for Your Personal Injury Claim
In Oklahoma, the at-fault person’s insurance company assigns an insurance adjuster to work on your personal injury case. Typically, the adjuster speaks to the insured party to get their side of the story about your injury. They also reach out through phone or email to you, as the injured party, often on a recorded line. It’s important to understand that these adjusters are NOT on your side, no matter how compassionate they sound. Their sole job is to devalue your claim as much as possible because payouts equal financial losses for their company. It’s best to decline speaking to the adjuster and instead refer them to your attorney.
An adjuster will then gather the following information to value your claim:
- Police report or accident report
- Proof of property damage
- Medical bills
- Verification of your income to calculate losses
A computer program uses the hard numbers in the case to tally economic damages. Then, the program uses algorithms based on that number to determine a dollar value for the pain, suffering, and emotional damages likely associated with the amount of injury expense and lost work time related to your case. However, insurance adjusters will commonly argue for as low an amount as possible.
An Oklahoma City accident attorney will investigate your accident, gather evidence, and ensure you have the maximum chance of receiving the full compensation you deserve even if it means taking on powerful insurance companies.