Attorney David I. Fuchs
Mar. 23, 2018
Car Accident Law
Insurance settlement amounts after a personal injury accident depend largely on your medical bills. Predicting how the insurance company will evaluate your claim takes understanding how insurance claims work in Florida. One of the key pieces of almost all settlement offers is a type of recovery called “medical special damages.” In essence, this recovery refers to the amount you’ve spent on accident-related medical bills during injury diagnosis and treatment. As an accident victim, more medical treatments can mean a greater compensation award.
A lot goes into evaluating an insurance claim. It takes much more than just compiling your medical bills and receipts to understand the full value of your claim. After most accidents, an insurance claim requires a complete investigation. Police reports, medical records, photographic evidence, eyewitness statements, accident reconstruction, and expert testimony may all go into understanding the incident, how it happened, and who is responsible. Since Florida is a no-fault insurance state, the victim’s own insurance company often conducts the investigation.
Your conversations with insurance claims adjusters can also change how much the company offers in a settlement. It’s important not to agree to release your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company or to say yes to a recorded statement. These actions can work against you and result in a smaller settlement – or no settlement offer at all. If you speak to an adjuster, stick only to the bare facts of the case. An attorney can help you protect your rights during conversations with insurance agents if necessary.
Once the insurance company has conducted an investigation, assessed all available information, and spoken to the parties involved, it will come up with an initial settlement offer. The offer will generally include enough to cover all accident-related medical expenses and future expected costs of the injury. Too often, first offers from insurance companies are less than what your medical treatments are actually worth. It often takes a bit of negotiating to increase the value of your settlement to match your medical treatments. Don’t let an insurance agent pressure you into saying yes. Take your time, weigh your options, and discuss your case with an attorney.
One way to maximize your insurance settlement is to know which medical treatments the insurance company will and will not compensate. The more medical treatment you receive, the greater your settlement. To insurance adjusters, however, not all types of medical care are equal. The type of care and duration of treatment can affect how much the company offers as reimbursement.
For example, insurance companies often differentiate between diagnosis and treatment in terms of pain and suffering damages. Injuries that require weeks of tests and exams to diagnose, but little treatment, might receive lower settlements since the insurance company doesn’t take the weeks of diagnostic procedures into account. The insurance industry also tends to place greater value on mainstream medical care. This means if you chose to receive alternative care such as homeopathic remedies you may receive lower settlement multipliers from insurers.
Physical therapy is another type of treatment that insurance companies tend to undervalue compared to other types of medical care. While longer treatment schedules typically result in greater settlement amounts, this might not be the case if your treatment takes the form of physical therapy or chiropractic care. Working with an insurance company on a settlement award is no small feat. Always seek help from an attorney if you want to maximize the value of your settlement for medical treatments