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Personal Injury Tips: Notifying Your UM Insurance About the Proposed Settlement

Notifying Your UM Insurance About the Proposed Settlement

“Solomon’s Laws: 1. When the law doesn’t work…work the law.”
― Paul Levine, Solomon vs. Lord

In most cases, after you sign the Release with the party that caused your damages and get the check, your case is done. However, there are instances when you still have the ability to seek additional money. What I’m talking about is the scenario involving UM Insurance. UM Insurance stands for “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance.”

When you obtain car insurance, one of the benefits you are able to obtain along with typical liability and property damage benefits, is UM Insurance. If you take out UM Insurance (and I strongly, strongly suggest you do), you have the ability to always ensure you are protected. Let’s say you are in a car accident and your damages are worth much more than the insurance limits of the party that caused your accident. For instance, let’s say you have damages of $100,000.00 but the car that hit you only has insurance with a limit of $10,000.00. If you have a UM policy, you will then be able to go after your own policy for the difference (if your limits are that high). I believe that having UM Insurance is one of the single most important things you can do to protect yourself.

There are some protocols which must be followed though. Before you sign the Release with the at-fault party and accept the check from them, we must ask your UM Insurance Adjustor for permission to settle. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, the truth is that there is a very good reason for this. By asking your own insurance company for permission to settle, you are also asking them to waive their right of subrogation (the right to go after the at-fault party for reimbursement). After asking for permission to settle, your UM Insurance Adjustor then has 30 days (what’s considered a reasonable amount of time) to decide to allow you to settle or to cut the check themselves and send it to you in place of the at-fault party. If they do it this way, they then retain their right to go after the at-fault party for reimbursement of all the money they have and will have to pay out to you for your injuries.

It sounds confusing and in truth, it is. What’s most important is that if you have UM Insurance and you plan on seeking money from it, you ask your own insurance company for permission to settle before signing the release and cashing the check with the at-fault party. Got it? If you don’t follow this procedure, then your own insurance company can wiggle out of having to give you any money from your UM policy.

One other key point to remember – if you have UM Insurance and you plan on seeking money from it for your injuries, you must also send a Demand Package to your own insurance. This is very similar to the regular Demand Package you sent out, with just a few small, key differences.

Remember, the best thing you can do is to call the Ticktin Law Group at (954) 570-6757 as soon as possible. By speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer and going over all the facts of your particular claim, you will get a much better idea of what steps you should already be taking, what the best way is to proceed with your case and what compensation you may be entitled to.

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Personal Injury Tips: The Personal Injury Claim Release

The Personal Injury Claim Release

I’m very thankful that I can make people happy just by signing my name.

Yoko Ono

In an ideal situation, our clients agree to settle their case after the Insurance Adjustor offers him or her an amount of money which is believed to be sufficient to walk away without going to court. Once that happens, they will send out a “Release” to sign. In essence, the Release is a document which says that in exchange for getting money, you agree that the case is completely done. You can’t come back to the party that caused your injuries in the future for more money no matter what happens. In other words, if you signed the Release and then down the road figure out that your injuries are much worse than you originally though, there is nothing you can do. The Release will also say that there is no admission of fault.

Typically, a Release has a whole lot of legalese in it. However, in essence it boils down to a few key points. The Release will list the parties to the accident, when the accident happened, how much money you as the client will be getting, the fact that you will be responsible for the payment of all outstanding bills and liens, and a statement that you agree that the case is completely done. Most of the time the Release will have a spot for a witness (or two) to sign as well. In some rare occasions, a Release will also have a place for a notary to sign. Once the Release is signed and sent back to the Insurance Adjustor, they will then have the check issued to the law firm. This takes just a couple of days. A typical Release will look something like this:

RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS     

Remember, the best thing you can do is to call the Ticktin Law Group at (954) 570-6757 as soon as possible. By speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer and going over all the facts of your particular claim, you will get a much better idea of what steps you should already be taking, what the best way is to proceed with your case and what compensation you may be entitled to.

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Personal Injury Tips: The First Offer and Negotiation in Personal Injury

The First Offer and Negotiation in Personal Injury

Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.

Carrie Fisher

After a Demand Package is sent to the at-fault party’s insurance company, the Insurance Adjustor then has 30 days (what is considered a reasonably amount of time) to respond with an initial offer. Typically, the Insurance Adjustor’s First Offer is a low-ball figure. I have seen cases which ultimately settled for six figures get a first offer below a thousand dollars. Many times, the letter which has the First Offer will try to make it seem like you have no case.

If there was less than $5,000 in damage to your car, the letter will usually say that because it was a low-impact hit, there was no mechanism for injury. If you are over the age of 40, it’s possible that the letter will say that your injuries were pre-existing and not caused by the accident. Many times, the First Offer letter will also try to assign some percentage of fault to you even though it was clearly 100% the other person’s fault. Obviously, the First Offer is made just to see if you will accept their minimal offer to settle. Remember, Insurance Companies are in the business of making money. The less money they get away with giving you, the better they are doing their job. Don’t be discouraged at this point. It’s all a part of the game.

The response to the First Offer will be a Counter-Offer. It’s typically better to not call the Insurance Adjustor, but rather to put everything in writing. The first counter-offer will politely reiterate the damages in a quick and concise way and state why more money is needed to settle the claim. After writing it, it’s best to fax the Counter-Offer and send a copy in the mail. The first Counter-Offer will look and sound something like this:

 ———

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am in receipt of your letter dated November 24, 2016, which included what you deemed “a most generous offer” of $10,000.00 to settle our client’s case. We thank you for your offer. Unfortunately, your offer is completely unreasonable and has been rejected by our client.

You stated that you made a careful review of the Demand Package, but then you contradicted yourself when you said that the accident was a low-impact hit. The Demand Package clearly stated that our client’s car had over $7,000.00 in damages from the impact. That is indicative of a very high-impact hit.

Additionally, you claimed that our client had minimal injuries as a result of the accident. As stated in my Demand Package, our client continues to suffer from C4/5 Posterior Bulging of the Disk, C5/6 Posterior Bulging of the Disk and C6/7 Posterior Herniation of the Disk Encroaching on the Anterior Subarachnoid Space and Both Neuroforamina. Our client has received a surgical recommendation and continues to suffer from intermittent muscle spasms, headaches and inflammation. Our client’s life has been drastically affected and his treating physician stated he has a 12% permanent impairment rating. There is nothing minimal about these injuries.

On top of all those injuries, our client still has $15,600.29 in outstanding medical bills. Your offer doesn’t cover the medical bills, let alone do anything to attempt to make our client whole again. In consideration of the foregoing, but in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution without the need to go to court, our client is prepared to accept $49,000.00 in full and final settlement of the claim.

Sincerely,

Attorney

 ———

The Insurance Adjustor will then most likely send another offer, this time offering more money to settle the claim. This will not be their highest offer yet. Another Counter Offer will then be sent, trying to make it sound like you have every reason to deserve more money. This same process will continue until you ideally get to the point that the Offer contains a financial amount which convinces you to settle the claim.

Sometimes, after several Offers and Counter Offers have been traded, the Insurance Adjustor still needs a little encouragement to raise the claim. At this point, we will let the adjustor know that we are ready and willing to take the case to court if they won’t negotiate in good faith. Sometimes we will send a sample Complaint and Discovery showing that we are completely prepared to take the claim to the next level. In other instances, we will file a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation with the state of Florida.

Remember, the best thing you can do is to call the Ticktin Law Group at (954) 570-6757 as soon as possible. By speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer and going over all the facts of your particular claim, you will get a much better idea of what steps you should already be taking, what the best way is to proceed with your case and what compensation you may be entitled to.

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Personal Injury Tips: How Your Actions (or Lack thereof) Can Affect Your Award

How Your Actions (or Lack thereof) Can Affect Your Award

In law, nothing is certain but the expense.

Samuel Butler

There is more to the story of what your particular injury is worth in the world of personal injury… namely, how your actions, or inactions, affect the total value. The two key points I want you to pay attention to are the “percentage of fault” and whether there was the need to “mitigate” any damages. Yah, yah, yah – more legal mumbo jumbo.

We’re going to start with percentage of fault. We know you’re hurt and the value of your injuries reflect a certain number. However, it is quite possible that you were partially to blame for the accident. This is what is known as “comparative negligence.” Let’s give an example. You were walking down the street and not paying attention to where you were walking. There was a huge pothole in the street, you fell into it and became injured. Clearly the pothole was not your fault, right? Well, that’s true. However, the truth of the matter is that a normal person (or what the law calls a reasonably prudent person) would be paying attention to where they were walking. The adjustor can say in this situation that you were partially at fault for the accident because you weren’t paying attention. What the adjustor will do is assign a percentage of fault to you. Perhaps they will say that you were 25% at fault for the accident. The adjustor will then decrease the settlement offers by 25%.

Another key point to think about is failing to mitigate damages after an accident. This is a much rarer concept than percentage of fault. Failure to mitigate typically only comes into play when you fail to take certain actions after an accident, and those inactions made the entire situation worse. For instance, maybe you were hurt after an accident and then for some unknown reason, wouldn’t go to a doctor for your injuries. After waiting a long period of time, you do finally go to the doctor and he or she tells you that because you waited so long, your injuries are significantly worse. Like I said, this rare, but it has happened. The adjustor will say that it wasn’t their fault that you failed to go to the doctor right away and therefore, they shouldn’t be responsible for the increased damages you have suffered. You’ll argue that it makes no difference because they are responsible for the injuries in the first place. Regardless, you don’t want to get into this argument because it could potentially lower your settlement.

Remember, the best thing you can do is to call the Ticktin Law Group at (954) 570-6757 as soon as possible. By speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer and going over all the facts of your particular claim, you will get a much better idea of what steps you should already be taking, and what compensation you may be entitled to.

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Personal Injury Tips: How Insurance Adjusters Value Your Claim

How Insurance Adjusters Value Your Claim

A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.

Yogi Berra

Let’s start with the concept of “specials.” At the end of a claim, the insurance adjustor will add up all of your medical bills, whether they have been paid or not. The grand total of your medical bills is what is known as medical special damages, or for short, just specials. They will use this number to determine the total value of your case.

What the adjustor does is take your specials and then use a “multiplier.” This simply means they will multiply the amount of your specials by a certain number. For a small injury, most adjustors will use a multiplier of 1.5 or 2. For example, let’s say you had a grand total of $10,000.00 in medical expenses. In a situation where the injuries are fairly insignificant, the adjustor will multiply $10,000.00 by 1.5. This means they would offer $15,000.00 to settle your case.

For more significant injuries, such as broken bones and those requiring surgery, the adjustor may use a much higher multiplier. Depending on the amount of pain you had to go through and if the injury is particularly long-lasting, the multiplier may go as high as 5. This is pretty unusual though. For most severe injuries, a typical settlement range is more in the neighborhood of a multiplier of 2.5 – 3.

That sounds pretty easy, right? Well the problem is when adjustors try to determine the actual out-of-pockets to compute the specials. Let’s use an example of a case with $10,000.00 in specials. A person may attach $10,000.00 in medical bills to the Demand Package. However, adjustors know that the person will never actually pay $10,000.00. Those bills are always negotiated. A person with that much in medical bills will most likely negotiate the bills down to $4,000.00 – $5,000.00 once the case settles

If the adjustor guesses that the claimant will only pay approximately $5,000.00, many times they will use this estimate with the multiplier. The case will then get an offer to settle at $7,500.00 (using a 1.5 multiplier) instead of $15,000.00. I know this sounds confusing and is probably giving you flashbacks of high school algebra class. The reason this is important though is so you understand the different strategies of insurance adjustors when settling your case.

Please keep in mind that these numbers are estimates and each insurance company uses their own formula. Moreover, this will not be the first offer the insurance company makes. Typically, the insurance adjustor’s first offer will be extremely low. They want to see if you will bite. You then get into the negotiation process and the offers will slowly rise with each piece of correspondence. The multiplier figure will most often be the highest the adjustor will pay after the negotiation process has run its course.

Remember, the best thing you can do is to call the Ticktin Law Group at (954) 570-6757 as soon as possible. By speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer and going over all the facts of your particular claim, you will get a much better idea of what steps you should already be taking, and what compensation you may be entitled to.

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