What Insurance Companies Consider in Injury Claims
After an automobile accident, the adverse driver's insurance carrier will consider only certain factors when assessing the value of your injury claim. These factors usually have little to do with the inconvenience, emotional upset or impact an accident or the injuries have on a victim. Below are some of the things automobile insurance carriers consider relevant to the determination of injury claim value.
The Liability of the Parties
Absent a rear-end collision, insurance companies nearly always try to blame the victim for the happening of an accident, at least in part. For example, where the at-fault party makes a left turn in front of your vehicle causing a collision, insurance carriers will often argue that you (as the straight-traveling driver) had the time and opportunity to avoid the impact. Assigning some of the blame to the injured party diminishes the total value of the claim accordingly. For example, if the insurer determines you are 20% at fault for not avoiding the collision with their left-turning driver, then the compensation you're offered will be 20% lower. Proving the adverse driver is 100% at fault often involves accident reconstruction principles and the expertise that comes with a long career handling injury claims and auto accidents in particular.
The Severity of the Impact
Insurance company adjusters frequently argue the collision at issue could not have caused much, if any, injury to the victim. In their "analysis" they look at the visible damage (dents, broken tail lights, etc.) as well as the cost of the repair. When it comes to the repair costs, insurers tend to discount the overall value of the injury claim if the cost of repair to the victim's vehicle was not in the thousands of dollars. The higher the cost of the repairs, the more credibility the insurers give to the injury claim. It is sometimes hard for insurance company adjusters to accept the fact that a modest repair bill does not always mean there was a modest injury. The extent of the injury suffered often depends on the susceptibility of the injured party. For example, older drivers with pre-existing conditions (such as arthritis, degenerative disc disease, etc.) are more easily injured than younger, healthier victims.
Nature and Cost of Treatment
Perhaps the most hotly contested issue in personal injury claims is whether the nature and cost of the medical treatment coincides with the severity of the injuries sustained. For example, treatment that consists solely of relatively inexpensive chiropractic therapy is given less weight than treatment involving an emergency room visit and orthopedic care. However, equally important and often overlooked by insurance carriers, the objectively verifiable injuries often dictate the amount of compensation. Victims who suffer spinal disc injuries (confirmed by an MRI) are likely to recieve greater compensation than someone who has received the exact same treatment but received no disc injury from the accident. In addition, insurers look to the invasive nature of the treatment when determining value. Injured victims who have received steroid injections (at substantial risk and cost) tend to receive greater compensation than those victims receiving more conservative treatment.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile accident, contacting an experienced injury attorney may be the best first step toward resolving all of the potentially complicated issues that arise and obtaining the compensation needed to get back on track.