As a Houston personal injury law firm, Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P has dealt with many different insurance companies on our clients’ behalf. One of the first questions we get from new clients is, how will the insurance company determine how much my claim is worth? When an insurer determines the value of your claim, there are several factors they take into account. Determining your claim’s worth starts with what damages you have suffered. These may include:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Lost income
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Loss of experience (including family, social and educational)
- Emotional damages (stress, depression, anxiety, etc. that stem from the accident)
- Property damage
Some of these, such as property damage and medical bills, are fairly simple to add up. Some are not so easy. Insurance adjusters work with a formula to determine how much a personal injury victim should be compensated. The adjuster will add up the total medical expenses related to the injury. This amount is called “medical special damages” and it’s used as a base figure to determine damages for non-monetary losses (such as pain and suffering).
For relatively minor injuries, the adjuster will multiply the base amount by 1.5 or 2 to reach a total amount. For more critical or long-lasting injuries, the adjuster multiplies the medical special damages figure by up to 5. In the most extreme cases, it may be multiplied up to 10.
After this is done, the adjuster will add lost income that resulted from the injuries. What you have once this formula is completed is NOT the final compensation amount, though. This is just where negotiations begin, and when the assistance of one of our Houston accident attorneys is most critical.
Another factor — and the most important — that will impact what your insurer is likely to pay out is the extent of liability for the parties involved. Liability refers to who was at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. If you are in a car accident because another driver ran a red light and struck your vehicle, the other driver is the liable party. In some injury claims, there is a shared liability. Determining the extent that the injured person was at fault in the accident is not an exact science.
The insurance adjuster will look at the information regarding your accident to determine if you were not at all at fault, a little at fault, or a lot at fault, and apply a percentage to your liability. If it is decided that the accident victim was, for example, 10% at fault, then that is the amount that your compensation from the insurance company will be reduced by. Having an experienced Houston accident lawyer on your side through this process is crucial to getting the compensation you deserve.
An insurance company is a business, and its primary job is to protect the company’s assets. Most insurers will do their best to pay as little as possible to an accident victim. At Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury in Houston have spent decades helping accident victims recover the compensation they are entitled to. Contact us right away to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case.