Receiving an Unreasonable Settlement Offer
A disconcerting aspect of an injury claim where you feel liability is certain, that damages are evident and where you are still feeling the effects of the injury is receiving an unreasonable settlement offer by the insurance company. There are many reasons for why your claim was undervalued by the insurer.
As a motorcycle rider, you are generally at a disadvantage in the view of many insurers. Riders are portrayed as reckless and lawless and who take advantage of the versatility of their vehicles by weaving in and out of traffic, lane splitting and riding too fast. If liability is disputed, it is not uncommon for an investigating police officer to assume the motorcycle rider was at fault.
All insurance companies when evaluating an injury claim have to act in good faith when settling the claim. Regarding, liability, an insurer will side with its insurer absent evidence that corroborates or supports the claimant’s version of events. However, if such evidence exists and is reasonably credible, then the insurer’s refusal to consider it may be deemed bad faith. Under some circumstances, you may have a cause of action for bad faith against the insurer.
Other examples of bad faith in settling a claim in this context include:
- Discounting or denying the claim without a sound reason
- Where liability is clear, an insurer’s failure to promptly evaluate the fair value of the damages or to offer an equitable settlement
- Attempting to minimize a reasonable claim causing the insured to file in court
- Not providing a reasonable explanation for why a low offer is being made
- Unreasonably and unjustifiably submitting a low-ball offer
You are entitled to an explanation for why an offer is lower than what you consider reasonable. If it concerns liability, then you may need the services of an accident reconstruction expert to show why the defendant was negligent. Obtaining independent and credible eyewitness testimony to the accident should be sufficient as well. You can also question whether the insurer conducted a full investigation of the accident.
Another explanation for a low offer is that the insurer disputes the nature and extent of the injuries or alleges the claimant’s injuries were pre-existing or only slightly exacerbated by the accident or that they were not caused by the accident. The latter reason may be prompted because the claimant delayed in seeking medical treatment. Further, the insurer may dismiss the medical care as excessive or unnecessary and the medical expenses excessive.
In this case, the treating physician, or another expert medical provider, must issue a report or testify the injuries were serious and caused by the accident. If pre-existing, the physician can review previous medical records and apportion the injury between an earlier incident and the subject accident. A physician or provider who practices the same specialty could testify that the treatment was necessary for the type of injuries sustained and that the costs are reasonable for such services in that particular medical community.