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Personal Injury Claims How Insurance Companies Place a Value Your PI Claim


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A San Juan Capistrano, Personal Injury Attorney's Advice:

All insurance companies have different methods for placing a value on your claim, but there are a few factors that are constants in every case. The insurance company will be looking at any property that was damaged, physical and or emotional damage to you, both long and short term, medical bills, and other damages.

In an auto accident, the current value or selling price of a car comparable to yours is the biggest part of this puzzle. Rarely will compensation be larger than the asking price of a car similar to yours. Age, condition and mileage of the car factor into the current selling price of that car.

If you are quoted a price for your car that you do not agree with, you should contact the claims adjuster. If you have done specialty work to the car, or have added a large value of accessories, such as custom paint, stereo equipment, ready to provide receipts for the money you spent on those accessories. It is also a good idea if you do heavily accessorize your car that you photograph the accessories and include them on your auto insurance.

Medical bills, if applicable, are factored in separately. These are usually ranked in severity and long term, lasting effects. For example, trips to the ER would pay higher than regularly scheduled doctor visits. Likewise, an injury that took or will take a long time to heal is more “valuable" than an injury in which the victim recovers quickly.

It is very important that the doctors are told every detail about ALL injuries that may have been caused in the accident. The value of a case increases when the doctor assigns more than one injury code to a patient at the time of the first examination. These injury codes MUST be in the doctors chart notes. They will not get into the chart notes unless you, the injured party, tell the doctor what your complaints are.

There are two types of injuries. The first category comes from an injury that causes pain. Report ALL of your pain to your doctor. The second type of injury is one that causes functional loss. That means any condition after an accident that limits your normal functioning level in daily activities at home, at work and at play. For example, if you can't turn your neck fully after an accident, then that is a limiting function that should be reported to your doctor.

Remember, it is in the insurance company's best interest to set a lower value on your claim than you will want, since they want to limit the amount they have to pay out. It will be up to you (or your attorney) to build the case for your claim to be a higher value.

They key to building your case will be careful documentation of everything involved in your case. Keep diligent records of every expense, every doctor's visit, every loss you feel you have suffered due to the accident. The more organized and prepared you are, the less “wiggle" room an insurance company will have in negotiating your settlement. For example if your case is based on your memory alone, or just verbal statements of losses, you case may have much less value, than if you had organized receipts, photographs, witnesses’ statements, etc.

The negotiation process can be very stressful and confusing if you are not used to dealing with these types of situation. Remember, to, that the insurance companies have people on staff who's job it is to be the best at lower the exposure (financial losses) to the insurance company - they are NOT in business to be sympathetic to you or your situation. It is strongly recommended that you hire an attorney who specializes in personal injury cases.

It is both an art and a skill in successfully negotiating a personal injury settlement with an insurance company. Unless you have the experience and knowledge of the laws of your state regarding your case, you will find that you may settle for a lot less than you deserve if you try to represent yourself.

Protect yourself after any accident! Before you speak with anyone concerning your case, find out what your rights are and what compensation you may be entitled to, at

Steven Kuhn has extensive experience in all areas of Personal Injury law. He is a lawyer and partner with Kuhn& Belz, a legal firm with Personal Injury specialists located in the San Juan Capistrano area of Orange County, in Southern California.


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