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Seattle Insurance Claim Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a car crash, at a construction site, work, or in any other scenario that involves insurance claims, most likely you’re feeling frustrated. If you need help navigating your insurance claims process, we at Colburn Law are here to help. We won’t let insurance companies bully you into a low-ball offer, and we won’t stop negotiating until we’re sure you get the settlement you deserve. Contact our Seattle insurance claim lawyers today at Colburn Law for a free consultation (206) 919-3215.
As a victim of personal injury myself, I know how maddening it can be to fight with insurance companies. I was injured by a roofer’s negligence while working as a carpenter in the early 2000s. The injury required multiple surgeries, which meant my previous position was no longer an option. I learned quickly how exasperating it was negotiating with the Industrial Insurance (workers’ compensation) here in Washington. In fact, that is part of what put me on my career path to personal injury law.
Contact a Seattle Insurance Claims Attorney
If you have any questions about the services we offer or would like to schedule a free initial consultation with our firm, contact us. We offer our services on a contingency-fee basis, so take advantage of our negotiating services today.
- What To Expect From The Insurance Claims Process
- How much is my settlement worth?
- Examples of Insurance Bad Faith
- Elements of a Bad Faith Insurance Claim
- Tips for Negotiating With an Insurance Company
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
Negotiating with insurance companies is tricky. Remember, these are huge corporations that have thousands of clients. It may not be fair, but they’re committed to paying out as little as possible. Unfortunately, I find that negotiating with insurance companies is almost always essential. They may approach you with an offer, but I strongly urge you to have an attorney review it first. Often, it’s less than you deserve.
In general, here’s what you can expect from the insurance claims process:
- You’ll receive an initial phone call from a claims adjuster, who will give you a quick rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.
- You might receive a “reservation of rights” letter, but don’t let this intimidate you. It simply means the insurance company is investigating your claim but reserves the right to deny it.
- At some point, you’ll write a demand letter that denotes a settlement amount you think is fair. The adjuster will counter with a lower offer, and the negotiations begin. We recommend having an attorney draft the demand letter for you. We have been writing these types of letters for years and know how to word them for optimal success.
How Much Should I Ask For?
Most people we work with have the same question: How much is my personal injury settlement worth? Our answer will be different, depending on the client, but each follows the same basic formula:
- First, we calculate the economic damages associated with your recovery. These include things like medical bills, rehabilitation and therapy, and your lost wages.
- Next, we calculate how much you deserve for pain and suffering. Most insurance companies use the multiplier method in which they will multiply your economic damages by a number between one and five, depending on the severity of your injuries. Alternatively, they may use the per diem approach, which involves taking a number (usually what you make in a day at your job) and multiplying it by the number of days it took to recover.
Take a look at these numbers, and you’ll see why negotiating with insurance companies can be so difficult. While it’s difficult for them to find a way around paying for your medical bills, most of the arguing comes with determining general damages. The number of days you suffered can be highly subjective, as can the severity of your injuries. This is why it’s essential to have an attorney by your side.
Common Examples of Insurance Bad Faith
Bad faith insurance refers to an insurance company’s misconduct in handling a client’s claim. A client has the right to file a tort claim against the insurance company for damages in these situations. Insurance bad faith can take many forms, mainly actions that go against Washington’s Insurance Fair Conduct Act. The Act outlines rules and laws insurance companies must obey in handling client claims. Failing to adhere to these laws could constitute bad faith and give the client grounds for a lawsuit. Many different examples of insurance bad faith exist.
- Offering far less than the case is worth
- Misrepresenting insurance policy provisions
- Unreasonably denying a claim
- Failing to meet communications standards with a client
- Breaching the standards for proper claim investigation
- Unfairly delaying the payout of a claim
An ordinary claim denial will come with a valid reason, and an explanation from the insurance company on why it could not accept the claim. A bad faith claim may have no explanation for the denial, or it may have a reason that does not make sense or seem relevant to the facts of the case. Furthermore, an ordinary denial will come after the insurance company has had the chance to investigate the facts of the case. An immediate denial could be a red flag for a bad faith action.
How to Handle Insurance Bad Faith
If you suspect an insurance company has dealt with your claim in bad faith after a personal injury accident, consult with an attorney from Colburn Law about what to do next. The insurance company could owe you money for your original claim, as well as additional compensation to make up for its unfair handling of your case. An insurance bad faith claim will be an additional lawsuit on top of your original claim. A lawyer can help you file and negotiate both.
The goal of an insurance bad faith claim is to punish the insurance company for breaking the rules. It is important to pursue this type of claim as the wronged client for multiple reasons.
- To obtain the compensation the insurer originally owed you
- To reimburse legal fees and court costs you have had to pay during a bad faith claim
- To hold an insurance provider accountable for its actions
Your lawsuit may prevent the insurer from engaging in bad faith practices with other clients in the future.
What Not to Do During Insurance Settlement Negotiations
During all insurance claim negotiations, keep your rights as a claimant in mind. It is important not to say too much, and not to say anything incriminating, during conversations with insurance claims adjusters. The adjuster’s job is to find a way to make you settle for as little as possible – or nothing at all. Be careful in what you say to the adjuster. You are under no obligation to agree to give a recorded statement, and in fact should turn down the request to do so. An adjuster can use what you say in the recorded statement against you.
Do not admit fault for the accident in question when on the phone with the insurance company. Instead, let accident investigations determine fault. Finally, do not accept the first settlement offer. Most insurance companies will offer as little as possible in the hopes that the client will not know the true value of his or her claim. Instead, politely decline and explain that you will confer with a lawyer before continuing insurance negotiations. Then, contact Colburn Law.
Call an attorney whenever you are in doubt about the status of your insurance claim, or as soon as you suspect bad faith from an insurance company. Insurance bad faith can happen due to a car crash, slip and fall, medical malpractice, or any other type of claim. Hiring a lawyer can strengthen your case and ensure an insurance company in Washington does not take advantage of you.