Signs you should watch out for to avoid getting stuck with a lowball settlement offer
Georgia workers file an average of 30,000 to 40,000 workers’ compensation claims each year. While many will receive compensation with no trouble, many others will get denied or mistakenly accept “lowball” workers’ compensation settlements.
It’s understandable why injured workers are tempted to accept a settlement offer, even when they know it is less than they deserve. Medical bills may be piling up and you might be unable to work, putting your family’s financial future in jeopardy. This stress and uncertainty can weigh on you and make any offer seem appealing.
But it’s important to understand how the workers’ compensation system works in Georgia so that you don’t lose out on full compensation for your work-related injury. By accepting a lowball settlement offer, you are likely voiding any and all rights you have, both now and in the future, to seek additional compensation.
So how can you know when an insurance adjuster is trying to lowball you?
Here are some signs to look for:
#1: You receive an offer very quickly
The first workers’ compensation settlement offer typically doesn’t come for several weeks or months following an accident. When insurers send offers quickly, it is normally in the hopes that you will not take into consideration any future costs. Not only that, but initial offers are usually just a starting point for negotiations, and therefore tend to be lower anyway.
What sounds great on the surface may not actually be such a good deal after all. This is why you should always have any settlement offers reviewed by an experienced attorney.
#2: The offer doesn’t include everything
A fair workers’ compensation settlement offer should fully account for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and other expenses. An insurance company is supposed to act in good faith and take into account any and all losses you may have suffered.
Of course, following these rules means that the insurer will wind up paying a bigger settlement, so they often choose to “ignore” certain categories of damage. In doing so, they are hoping that you will not realize you are being shortchanged. If you are unsure as to what your claim should cover, speak with an attorney who can better advise you.
#3: They seem to dismiss or lose your evidence
Insurance companies have one goal: to settle claims for as little money as possible. One way they do this is by failing to recognize certain damages. Accordingly, they may dismiss some evidence such as doctors’ statements or medical bills as not being valid. You may also repeatedly send documents, only to have the insurance company tell you they have not been received.
In many cases, insurance companies look more favorably on evidence that an attorney has submitted on your behalf. After hiring a lawyer, you may find that missing documents suddenly appear as well.
#4: Your injuries are being disputed
In some cases, insurance companies will review your evidence and still claim that it does not prove damages. Other times, they will question if your injury occurred at work or whether it was the result of a pre-existing condition.
When an insurance adjuster is trying to lowball, you might have to jump through extra hoops in order to prove you were actually injured. It may also seem as though no amount of evidence will convince the insurance company of your plight. This is something no accident victim should have to deal with. Rather than haggling with the insurance company, allow an experienced lawyer to do battle for you.
#5: The claim is reduced without explanation
Has your claim suddenly been reduced, but the insurance company won’t give an explanation as to why? If so, the reason is probably because they don’t intend to pay for certain damages. They would rather not state this in writing, which is why an adjuster will likely not elaborate. If you attempt to ask questions by phone or email, you will probably be ignored.
An attorney can often receive answers when victims cannot. If you are being given the runaround, don’t wait until you receive a lowball insurance settlement offer. Contact a trained professional as soon as possible.
#6. You are facing intense pressure
When trying to reduce an insurance settlement offer, claims adjusters are normally anxious to get things over with and close your case. As such, you may face intense pressure from the insurance company. Sometimes, it can even take the form of threats or scare tactics.
For example, an adjuster may say that this is the only offer you will receive, so you should “take it or leave it.” Others might tell you that a court would probably not give that much, so they are actually doing you a favor.
Pressuring someone to settle is one of the oldest tricks in the book. It’s also something you are more likely to encounter whenever you are not represented by a lawyer. Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney lets the insurance company know that you don’t intend to be a pushover.
#7. You are being shamed
When the above tactics don’t work, insurance companies sometimes resort to shaming people. One way they do this is by making you feel guilty for even filing a claim in the first place. You could even be told that your claim is negatively affecting your employer’s finances, and therefore has a detrimental effect on your coworkers. Claims such as these normally have no basis whatsoever and therefore should not be used to bully you into accepting an offer.
These 7 signs can indicate that an insurance adjuster is trying to lowball you. Even so, there are other times when a lowball offer might not be so obvious. Here at Gerber Holder Law, we can help you determine what is a fair settlement and what isn’t.