Why the Insurance Company May Undervalue Your Claim

Auto Accident Lawyer

Generally speaking, successful negotiations between an auto accident attorney and the defendant’s insurance company begin with the parties at polar opposites on the compensation scale. If the parties are reasonable and skilled negotiators, each will make their case for more or less money. If your auto accident attorney can support his or her position for additional compensation, negotiations may begin to move in that direction. There are many factors that determine a person’s thinking, but one factor stands out when the insurance company won’t budge from an undervalued claim.

A basic tenet of tort law called mitigation of damages requires the plaintiff to do everything possible to reduce the potential for further harms. If the plaintiff fails to obtain an immediate diagnosis following an accident; if the patient misses or consistently reschedules appointments with doctors, specialists, or therapists who endeavor to treat the plaintiff; or if the patient fails to follow the doctor’s recommended plan of treatment, the defendant insurance company may consider the plaintiff has breached the mitigation of damages doctrine and configure a portion of fault on the client of the auto accident attorney, thereby reducing the value of the plaintiff’s claim. This is not an unusual defense tactic. But in the worst-case scenario, the defendant insurance company may assign a large portion of fault to the plaintiff; or even deny liability altogether for the claimant’s injuries.

Here is how the defendant insurance company may view the plaintiff’s lack of treatment immediately following an accident:

  1. If the plaintiff failed to be diagnosed immediately after the accident, the injuries incurred by the plaintiff may have occurred after the accident;
  2. Because of plaintiff’s failure to receive timely medical attention following the accident, the severity of the diagnosis of the original injury is an unknown;
  3. Plaintiff’s failure to seek immediate medical treatment may have exacerbated the original injury.

A gap in healthcare is a period of time between doctor or caregiver appointments. It signals to the defense the infrequency with which the patient is trying to improve their health situation and may also reduce the value of the plaintiff’s claim. The defense may see a gap in care as:

  1. The patient is not doing his or her part to mitigate their damages; or
  2. A gap in care suggests the severity of plaintiff’s injuries may not be as acute as the patient has described.

When called upon for advice, one of the experienced Auto Accident Lawyers Indianapolis, IN residents rely on will recommend their client go to the emergency room or family physician as soon as possible after the accident to determine if the patient has suffered any injuries and the extent of the injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence. A pro-active treatment approach may increase the value of your claim.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Ward & Ward Law Firm for their insight into auto accident claims.