Insurance companies do not have one precise method for calculating settlement offers that is applied to every case. Each accident is unique. Insurance companies have a financial incentive to pay as little as possible and will often attempt to entice or pressure injured parties to accept an offer that does not fully cover the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation, and pain and suffering. Many companies use their own formula to determine their initial settlement offer. Insurance companies do not disclose their exact formula. This means there is no way to know exactly why they arrived at their original offer. It is always structured in the best interest of the insurance company. Once the company has arrived at an amount for personal injury, lost income caused by the injury is then added to the number.
If insurance claims only involve vehicle damage, the compensation is for repairs of any damage caused by the accident and replacement of any vehicle parts that can’t be repaired. If the repair and part replacement costs are more than the total value of the vehicle, the vehicle is classified as “totaled” and the insurance company pays for the pre-accident value of the vehicle. The main problem with this method is that the vehicle’s value as a mode of transportation is not added to the calculation. The amount paid is many times not enough to purchase another reliable mode of transportation and families are left struggling to find a way to their jobs, shopping, and medical appointments. A Chicago car accident lawyer can advise people who have been involved in an accident of their legal options.
Settlement offers for pain and suffering
Pain and suffering are the amounts of current and future discomfort a victim experiences due to an accident. Injured parties should be released by a doctor and finished with all medical treatment prior to submitting their personal injury claim to an insurance company. This means they will not need further medical treatment and their injury or disability is not going to improve further. Accident victims are not able to go back to an insurance company after they have accepted a settlement just because they incur expenses they did not anticipate. If doctors do feel future treatment or therapy is needed, the doctor should be able to estimate the costs for treatment needed in the future. Other factors like permanent disfigurement or chronic pain should warrant additional compensation. A Chicago car accident lawyer has experience with cases that involve long-term disability and a diminished quality of life for victims.
Policy limits and settlement offers
A major factor in insurance company settlement offers is the policy limit amount. The policy limit is the payout cap that is determined by the insurance policy of the insured party. Insurance companies are not going to make any settlement offer above the policy limit, regardless of injuries and damages. If the accident victim’s damages are more than the insurance company’s policy limit, they face a similar situation to those people involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. Injured parties may need to hire an attorney to sue the individual or file a claim with their own insurance company if they have under-insured motorist coverage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage are typically offered as an addendum to basic automobile insurance policies.
Illinois uninsured motorist laws
Some states require all drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Illinois requires uninsured motorist coverage with the same limits as the bodily injury liability coverage of the main policy. Vehicle owners can request lower limits for uninsured motorist coverage in writing to their insurance company. All vehicles registered in Illinois must have uninsured motorist coverage of at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. Insurance companies will often offer a settlement that is well below the policy limit by asserting that the victim’s injuries are not significant enough to warrant additional compensation. Accident victims can hire a Chicago car accident lawyer to assist them with submitting insurance claims and filing a lawsuit, if necessary.
Statute of limitations to file a lawsuit
Most states give injured parties one to two years from the date of their automobile accident to file a lawsuit. Illinois has a two-year statute of limitations. If an injured party decides to sue for an accident that occurred some time ago, a Chicago car accident lawyer can advise them of their legal options. There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations if the accident involved a public entity or if a minor was injured in the accident. Parents can file claims on behalf of minor children or a minor has two years to file a suit after their 18th birthday. Time periods can be much shorter when the accident involves a public entity.