Some adjusters, like some personal injury lawyers, give the business a bad name, but on the whole, most adjusters try to be reasonable within the parameters set by theie respective insurance carriers. Any discussion of the mind-set of insurance adjusters must differentiate between adjusters associated with huge conservative national carriers and adjusters who work for companies that are less likely to be in litigation all the time.
Very large conservative carriers do not mind lawsuits. Even a multi-million dollar verdict will run off their backs like water, and they are extremely successful in small to medium cases in which jurors often return verdicts for the medical bills or less. If your case is in the $25,000 to $30,000 range, your accident attorney’s job is to resolve it without spending several years and several thousand dollars.
The mind-set of adjusters who work for large conservative insurers is based primarily on the philosophy of their employers. The job of these adjusters is to resolve as many cases as possible for a figure that is substantially less than the settlement authority given to them by their insurer. Bonuses are given for exemplary performance, especially when cases are resolved for amounts approximating the medical bills only with little or nothing for pain and suffering.
These major carriers try to resolve cases without the intervention of personal injury attorneys. One of these carriers was cited in several states for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law because of letters that discouraged injured claimants from employing an attorney.
Insurance adjusters at conservative companies believe in and follow these principles:
Insurance adjusters who work for large conservative companies are usually very loyal and are often long term employees. These adjusters are also very moral people. They attend church regularly, are attentive to their families, and are usually quite conservative in their beliefs. Having dealt with many cases involving catastrophic injuries or death, small to medium cases involving soft tissue injuries or sprains are not very important to them. Also they are very knowledgeable about medical testimony and medical issues.
Another significant part of the philosophy of insurance adjusters is based upon the relationship between the insurance adjuster and defense counsel. This is one of the most overlooked aspects in evaluation of claims by inexperienced plaintiffs’ personal injury attorneys. Many inexperienced attorneys believe that the threat of a lawsuit sends the insurance adjuster into a fearful frenzy. In fact, the opposite is usually true. The most common element between large and small conservative carriers is the fact that they have excellent defense counsel.
Once a file hits the desk of defense counsel, a plaintiff’s case can suddenly be in deep trouble. Often the value will be reduced or defense counsel will find some weakness in the case to focus on. Once this occurs, the case may need to go all the way to trial and a verdict. So experienced personal injury attorneys know not be so quick to threaten a suit in small to medium cases. The adjuster will not be worried. The file simply goes to the litigation claims manager and defense counsel will begin tightening the screws.
A skilled personal injury lawyer will take note of the clues that the adjuster gives during settlement negotiations or even preliminary discussions. If the adjuster suggests the case has weaknesses such as questionable liability, medical causation, pre-existing injuries, or other limiting factors, the chances are pretty good that the offer will be low. When the first offer is very low and the second offer is only increased by a small amount, the case is likely headed to litigation.
Experienced injury attorneys will not waste time arguing with the conservative adjuster or trying to convince the adjuster of their position. They will consider all of the weaknesses in a case and try to see the case from the adjuster’s point of view. Questions to consider are:
After consideration of all factors [see 18 factors that affect case value and The 9 most common personal injury case weaknesses link to articles], the experienced injury attorney will determine whether he and the adjuster are actually miles apart or just a few feet apart. If it’s miles, then mediation is a possible alternative. But if the carrier refuses to mediate, a lawsuit will be necessary.
Skilled personal injury attorneys will try to work with adjusters for large conservative national carriers to resolve cases, but when that isn’t possible, they will let the judge or jury decide.