When you are injured in Massachusetts due to the negligent acts of another person, you will likely need to make a claim against the liable person’s insurance policy. In doing so, you’ll have to communicate with an insurance adjuster (also called “claims adjuster,” “claims examiner,” “claims analyst,” etc.) The insurance adjuster’s job is to make sure you receive as little compensation as possible. Your attorney’s job, of course, is to make sure you are fully compensated for your losses. Here are a few ways in which your attorney can improve their negotiating strength while pursuing a claim on your behalf.
The demand letter is generally the opening move of a personal injury claim against an insurance company. In this letter, your lawyer should discuss with the insurance company in detail issues of liability, the extent of your injuries, income losses, your medical treatments, and so on. If the letter is strong, then the negotiation will be short. The only way, of course, to have a strong demand letter is for everything to be well documented from the moment of injury onward. If you have documentation of every conversation with the insurance company as well as with the liable party, witness accounts, conversations with your doctor, and if you send follow up letters to the adjuster during the process of your negotiations, you will add credibility to your claims in your demand letter. The adjuster is much more likely to accept your version of events and hopefully will not attempt to give you a lowball offer.
Insurance adjusters are assessed by their employers on a number of outcomes, not the least of which is how quickly they resolve claims. One of the ways in which they quickly resolve claims is to offer an immediate (although low) offer. Injured parties who are anxious to get the money will accept whatever is thrown at them, not considering how much debt or pain and suffering might be awaiting them in future months and years. However, if you can restrain yourself, you will soon find that the adjuster might be interested in resolving the claim quickly and is more likely to accept your higher offer.
When your adjuster promises to do something, it’s up to your lawyer to follow up. Daily calling is rude and inappropriate but a smart lawyer will always ask the adjuster to commit to having tasks finished by a certain date.
Insurance adjusters are human beings. They get tired. Many of them are overworked and underpaid. They hear a lot of sad stories about injuries. Sometimes, a blustery lawyer can hurt your claim by getting highly emotional or personally attacking an inconsiderate or unresponsive adjuster. There are better ways to deal with impasses such as engaging a mediator, speaking with a supervisor, taking the matter to court, or in cases of truly bad-faith negotiations, filing a claim for damages against the insurance company itself.