Bodily injury insurance is the coverage offered by insurance companies for physical injuries including related pain, suffering, and emotional injuries. Auto insurance policies are required by law to offer bodily injury coverage of at least $25,000 per injury victim, up to a total of $50,000 per accident. Most car owners should purchase higher coverage limits to protect their assets. Other kinds of insurance, including homeowner’s policies and business premises insurance, also offer bodily injury coverage. Boat insurance, personal liability umbrella policies, and other liability insurance policies may also cover bodily injuries.
Claims for compensation are typically made against the company that insures the person who caused the bodily injury. When the accident is caused by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver, however, the claim will be made against the injury victim’s own uninsured motorist coverage. That coverage is only available if a car owner buys it. Every car owner should do so because a significant percentage of accidents are caused by hit-and-run or uninsured drivers.
Risks of Not Hiring a Lawyer for a Bodily Injury Insurance Claim
When an accident was caused by the negligence of another person or business, an injury claim is made against the company that insures the responsible party. The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to handle the claim. Claims adjusters work for the insurance company, not the injury victim. Their goal is to save money for the insurance company by paying as little as possible to settle the claim. They may deny the claim to avoid paying anything.
Even when an adjuster expresses a willingness to settle, they often engage in tactics that are designed to wear down the resistance of injury victims. They might accuse the injury victim of making a fraudulent claim, or they might be abusive or belligerent in their efforts to bully the victim into accepting an inadequate settlement.
Claims adjusters might make repeated demands for information that they already have and lowball offers to the injured party. Months may pass before they respond to counteroffers. The strategy of many claims adjusters is to make the injury victim lose hope of obtaining a fair settlement. They expect victims to give up and take whatever they are offered because they are tired of dealing with the adjuster. Unfortunately, those tactics sometimes succeed, leaving injury victims with inadequate compensation.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for a Bodily Injury Claim
A personal injury lawyer helps ease the stress of injury victims by acting as a shield against abusive claims adjusters. Experienced attorneys cannot be intimidated. Good lawyers understand how to determine the settlement value of an insurance claim. If adjusters do not negotiate in good faith to reach that value in a reasonable time, experienced personal injury lawyers are not afraid to file lawsuits and let a jury decide upon the compensation that should be paid.
Insurance adjusters know that unrepresented injury victims are unlikely to file a lawsuit. They have no leverage to negotiate a fair settlement. When a victim is represented, the threat of litigation is real. Insurance companies prefer to avoid litigation because it will cost the company money to hire its own lawyer to defend the claim. Adjusters also know that the company’s lawyer will probably advise the company to settle legitimate claims for their fair value rather than risking an uncertain jury verdict. For those reasons, injury victims who hire a lawyer are more likely to receive full and prompt compensation than if they try to handle the claim without a lawyer.
A study by the Insurance Research Council found that, on average, injury victims who hire lawyers receive settlements that are 3 ½ times larger than unrepresented victims receive for comparable claim. That extra compensation more than offsets the contingent fee that a lawyer will charge in a typical case. Bodily injury victims usually find that hiring a lawyer reduces stress while improving settlement outcomes.