If you are getting lowballed by the insurance company after an auto accident, you are not alone. Insurance companies make low settlement offers to accident victims all the time, and they do so knowing that many claimants will agree to settle for far less than they deserve.
5 Steps to Take After Receiving a Lowball Settlement Offer
When dealing with the insurance company, it is up to you to protect your legal rights. If you let the insurance company decide what it will pay, you will only get a small fraction of the total amount you are rightfully owed (if that).
But, by fighting back and asserting your legal rights effectively, you can collect the money you need to get back to your normal life. Here are five steps to take if the insurance company is lowballing you:
1. Get Help from an Attorney
If you have not done so already, you should speak to an auto accident lawyer if the insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly. Insurers treat claimants who retain an attorney differently than those without representation. Hiring a lawyer can get insurance company representatives to take you seriously and offer more substantial compensation.
Your attorney will be able to deal with the insurance company on your behalf, assisting you with each of the additional steps outlined below.
2. Make Sure It Is Actually a Lowball Offer
What makes you think the settlement offer is low? Is the insurance company offering less than the total costs you have already incurred? Or do you simply feel like you are entitled to more?
While your intuition may be correct, you need to be careful not to reject an offer that adequately compensates you for your losses.
Also, remember that New York is a “no fault” auto insurance state. This means that you are limited to securing personal injury protection (PIP) coverage unless you are able to prove that you suffered a “serious injury” in the crash. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will almost certainly dispute liability for the accident unless you can present compelling evidence of a serious injury.
3. Figure Out Why the Insurance Company Is Lowballing You
Generally, insurance companies provide lowball offers because they are businesses committed to protecting the bottom line. Profits suffer when they pay out large claims.
However, in some cases there may be a specific reason behind an insurer’s lowball offer:
- The Insurance Company Has Determined That You Were at Fault – Even though New York is a “no fault” state, there are still some circumstances in which your insurance companies can deny PIP coverage. Insurers may deny coverage if they discover evidence that the driver was drunk, street racing, or intentionally crashed the vehicle. When you bring a fault-based claim, the other driver’s insurance company might claim that you are partially at fault for the accident and make a low offer.
- The Insurance Company Has Undercalculated Your Losses – The insurance company could also be offering less than you deserve because it has undervalued your claim. Insurers often employ formulas to calculate compensation. These equations don’t always reflect your losses accurately, resulting in a lowball settlement offer.
- The Insurance Company Is Acting in Bad Faith – It is also possible that the insurance company is acting in bad faith. Unfortunately, bad faith insurance practices are not uncommon, and some insurance companies will make lowball settlement offers regardless of the facts at hand. If the insurance company is handling your claim in bad faith, you will need an attorney to help you hold the insurer accountable.
4. Collect the Evidence You Need to Prove Your Claim
Once you know why the insurance company is lowballing you, you can then focus on gathering the evidence you need to prove your claim. Does the evidence show that you played no part in causing the accident? Do you have medical records, employment records, and other documentation that demonstrates the extent of your accident-related losses?
In many cases, overcoming a lowball settlement offer is a matter of convincing the insurance company that it has overlooked relevant information.
5. Keep Negotiating and/or File a Lawsuit in Court
Ultimately, in order to overcome a lowball settlement offer, you need to be prepared to keep negotiating – and you may need to be prepared to go to court if necessary.
Negotiating with the insurance company and preparing a lawsuit are steps that you will need your attorney to take on your behalf. Your attorney can also advise you regarding future settlement offers and advise you against actions that could make it more difficult to recover just compensation for your collision.
What NOT to Do If the Insurance Company Is Lowballing You
In addition to taking the steps listed above, there are also some costly mistakes you need to avoid. Specifically, if you have received a lowball settlement offer for your auto accident:
- Do Not Accept the Lowball Settlement as “Partial Payment” – Do not accept the lowball settlement and treat it as “partial payment” for your claim. Once you accept a settlement of any kind, your claim is over.
- Do Not Give in to the Insurance Company’s Tactics – While dealing with the insurance company’s tactics can be frustrating, you should not give in. If you have suffered substantial losses as a result of your accident, it will be well worth fighting for the compensation you deserve.
Discuss Your Claim with a New York Auto Accident Attorney
Filing an insurance claim after a car accident can be challenging. If you were seriously injured through no fault of your own, you should not have to settle for less.
At O’Connor & Partners, PLLC, we are committed to pursuing the full compensation you deserve. With millions of dollars recovered and 150 years of combined legal experience, our attorneys can help you overcome a lowball insurance settlement offer.
Please call O’Connor & Partners, PLLC at (845) 303-8777 today for a free case evaluation. Our auto accident lawyers serve clients in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and other areas of New York.