Myth 4: You should get a fast settlement
TRUTH: Actually, it’s easy to get a fast settlement. What’s unusual is a fast and fair settlement. The insurance companies love fast settlements, because if you are in a rush, they know they will be able to settle for pennies on the dollar. But if you want to get the full amount that your claim is worth, it is rare to get it quickly. Some cases, from accident to payment, can take years.
After the accident, you will need to contact your insurance company. Then, if you decide to pursue the case yourself, you will need to provide proof of medical treatments and eventually, after you are medically stable (which can take months), you will need to contact the at-fault person’s insurance company and negotiate the amount you will receive for damages. All of this can take a while especially if the adjuster is being difficult and delays or denies your claim.
Myth 5: You can never get a fair settlement in less than 90 days.
TRUTH: On rare occasions, you can get the full value of your case quickly. It generally happens in a “policy limits” case. This means that your case is clearly worth more than the limit of the insurance policy of the person who injured you.
For example, we have represented a woman who was hit by a car while she was crossing a crosswalk on foot. She suffered a badly broken ankle, which required emergency surgery to place pins and rods to hold the bone in place. The person who hit her had $250,000 worth of insurance coverage, and since we were able to convince the insurer that the case was worth more than that, they paid the entire $250,000 within 60 days. But this happened only because the value of the injuries was greater than the value of the insurance policy. And since the policy limit is the most the insurance company will never have to pay, taking it quickly can be a good idea.
But before you take that policy limit settlement, make sure you are not leaving additional money on the table. For example, if the person has an umbrella policy, or was on the job for a company with additional insurance policy, or if the person is wealthy, there might be other options you can pursue to ensure you are fully compensated for your injuries.
Myth 6: If the person who hurt you has only $25,000 of insurance coverage, then that is all the money you can get.
TRUTH: This is sometimes true, but there are important exceptions. You may be entitled to get more money under your own insurance. This is called “underinsured motorist coverage,” or UIM.
It is also possible to collect money directly from the person who hit you. The fact that a person has insurance does not mean you cannot collect from the person individually.
For example, if a jury decides that your injuries are worth $60,000, and the person who hit you only has $25,000 of insurance, then you can try to collect the extra $35,000 directly from the person who hit you. If that person is wealthy, this can be an excellent strategy. But if that person is broke, it will be a complete waste of time.
To know whether this is a useful strategy, you will have to figure out if the person who hit you has substantial assets. This is not always easy, but you can do it using a private investigator or an asset affidavit.