If you are filing an insurance claim after a car accident, you might have questions about how the amount gets decided and when you get a chance to negotiate with the insurance company. In many cases, you will want to have an attorney help you with these matters.
Your attorney can help you appeal any settlement offers if you believe that the amount is too low. However, the insurance company’s internal processes can be confusing, and they often end up favoring the insurance company. If you are really serious about getting higher damages, you often need to file a lawsuit, and then the insurance company will negotiate properly.
Contact our Maryland car accident lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras by calling (410) 694-7291 today.
How to Reject an Initial Settlement Offer from Car Insurance in Maryland
In Maryland, you file an insurance claim with the insurance policy of the driver who hit you. If you have first-party benefits like a MedPay policy attached to your own insurance policy, you might be able to file a claim with that policy as well, but the bulk of damages are typically paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance. This means that the insurance company you are dealing with has no real interest in keeping your best interests in mind or paying you a full settlement; they’d usually rather save themselves money and settle cheaply.
This often means that you will have to reject the initial settlement offer, but it can be difficult to know how to do that. Simply put, all you have to do to reject an offer is inform them in writing or simply ignore the offer. Especially if there is a time limit on the offer and you do not accept in that timeframe, it is automatically rejected.
If you do receive an offer, always check with a Bethesda car accident lawyer right away to see if it is worth enough to cover your damages. If it is not, we can begin the negotiation process and try to get you a more appropriate settlement.
Appealing Low Insurance Offers in Maryland
If the insurance company’s offer was too low, you may have options besides simply accepting or rejecting the offer. Most insurance companies have some sort of internal appeals process where you can have the insurance company reconsider the amount they decided on and potentially pay more for your insurance claim.
Insurance companies make their initial settlement offer based on the damages that they have noted – such as the repair or replacement costs their appraisers came up with and the value of medical bills you submitted. In some cases, the insurance company will adjust these values, cutting out damages for things they don’t want to pay for. Insurance companies might also value the offer based on how much they would have to spend to litigate the case, and simply offer enough to try to keep victims quiet and end their cases early.
Instructions for how to appeal an offer from a particular insurance company can usually be found either on their website or in the paperwork they give you with the settlement offer. In most cases, there is a quick deadline to submit additional information that might lead them to raise the offer.
However, this is not truly a negotiation and is still a very one-sided system. To truly get to the negotiating table, you might need to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit to Improve Negotiations in a Maryland Car Insurance Settlement
When you file your injury case as a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance company, you become a more serious player. At this point, insurance companies will be looking to satisfy you with an adequate settlement and end the case through settlement so that they do not need to spend more money on lawyers and legal fees to take the case all the way to trial.
Once you are involved in a lawsuit, the court will usually set up pretrial conferences and push parties to negotiate or seek mediation to try to reach a negotiated settlement. Your lawyer and the lawyers for the insurance company can also get on the phone or hold meetings to go over the claimed damages and the evidence of fault to try to reach a fair settlement.
Your attorneys must have your best interests in mind as the client, and they should seek to maximize your settlement. However, there are often concessions that need to be made in a settlement, often to account for the fact that both sides save money by settling instead of going to trial.
In any case, we cannot accept a settlement on your behalf. As your lawyers, we can only negotiate and present you with the settlement offer or draft an offer to send to the insurance company; we cannot accept a settlement or end your case without your approval. So, while we will do what we can to get you a fair settlement, the final decision of whether to accept or not is yours alone.
What if Negotiations Fail in a Car Insurance Case?
There are many pretrial stages in an injury lawsuit that often take months to get through, and we can attempt to negotiate during that whole time. However, the case continues to move forward, acting as a looming deadline. If we cannot reach a fair settlement offer and the insurance company refuses to pay what they owe you, then we can progress on to trial and fight to get you damages that way.
When an injury case goes to trial, the victim’s lawyers present all of the evidence and testimony they have about what happened and why the defendant is at fault. The insurance company’s lawyers will defend their driver and try to get the jury on their side or prove that you were actually responsible for the crash.
Ultimately, the decision of who was at fault and how much the damages are will be the jury’s decision. This can be risky if you have a shaky case, and insurance companies might be more willing to fight it out in court if they think they can win. However, if you have a strong case, insurance companies could conceivably still settle, even on the day of trial.
Contact Our Maryland Car Accident Attorneys Today
If you were injured in a car crash, reach out to Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ Baltimore car accident lawyers today at (410) 694-7291.