How to Negotiate a Wrongful Death Insurance Claim
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If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, then you know just how painful it can be, and how much stress it can put on you and your family. The process of mourning is deeply personal and is something that can take months, or even years, to fully heal from. When family members consider adding the complication of trying to go after compensation from an insurance company for the accident, it can almost be unbearable. Zinda Law Group believes that accident victims shouldn’t bear the burden of their legal claim while mourning their loved one. A few tips for dealing with a wrongful death claim with an insurance company can go a long way.
HOW TO NEGOTIATE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY
Many accident victims and their families do not know how to start the process of seeking compensation for their loss. One important starting point is to make sure to remember that insurance companies are businesses, and they operate as such. This means that their goal, despite what the commercials might say, is to pay you as little as they are legally obligated to.
While each negotiation process is unique, it can be helpful to have a framework for how most cases will typically resolve. Below are some important steps to complete when negotiating a wrongful death claim with an insurance company.
1. Contact an Attorney
Your first step in seeking compensation for the loss of your loved one should be to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney. Personal injury cases may be complex, but wrongful death cases can be even more complicated given their severity and the fact that the true victim is no longer able to file a claim. An attorney may be able to help you and your family analyze your options and maximize your compensation.
2. Obtain a Death Certificate
A death certificate can be obtained through your local Department of Health. While it may seem obvious, it is important to establish factual evidence of the passing of your loved one.
3. Document the Accident
In any wrongful death case, it is far better to be overprepared than underprepared. A large part of this preparation is documenting every step of the way as thoroughly as possible. This can include gathering photos or video evidence of the accident scene, making sure that you have the contact information of any potential witnesses, and requesting and holding onto any other documentation related to the accident.
4. Appoint a Representative of the Estate
As mentioned previously, wrongful death claims can be complicated because the victim is no longer around to file for themselves. As such, if one has not already been named in a will, the family must appoint a representative of the estate to be able to file a claim. Your attorney will likely be able to help you out with the logistics of completing this step.
After speaking with your attorney about all of your options and determining that you and your family would like to move forward with filing a wrongful death claim, your attorney may be able to begin investigating the case. This can include analyzing photo and video evidence, conducting interviews and depositions with witnesses, and researching the statutes and regulations applicable to your claim.
WHAT TO EXPECT
In negotiating with insurance companies, there are a lot of unknowns. While each claim is unique, the tips below may assist you in getting through a wrongful death negotiation with an insurance company.
Know Your Claim’s Value
Before a claims adjuster approaches you with a settlement offer, you should have at least a rough estimate of what your claim could be worth. This can help prevent you from accepting a lowball offer and leaving money that you may be entitled to on the table. To figure out your claim’s value, add up your loved one’s medical bills and funeral bills. If they also contributed to your family’s finances, make sure to gather pay stubs reflecting these amounts. Speaking with an attorney may give you a better idea of what your claim could be worth.
Understand that it is unlikely that an adjuster will simply accept any offer that you extend to them, just as you should be very hesitant to accept any initial offer that you are given. Rather than panic and accept a lowball counteroffer, understand that this is part of the negotiation process. Your attorney may help bolster your claim and maximize the compensation you may be entitled to.
Negotiating with insurance can be a lengthy process, and it may take longer than you expect to fully resolve. Do not accept an offer that you do not feel comfortable with. Trying to move things along too quickly will likely result in a negative outcome for you in the long run.
HOW MAY AN ATTORNEY HELP IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY
Insurance companies employ large groups of attorneys to represent them. Their goal is to minimize the company’s liability and pay out as little as possible. By hiring your own attorney, you may level the playing field and ensure that you aren’t taken advantage of by these companies.
A lawyer may help your case in many ways. If they have experience in handling similar cases, they may be able to use this experience to give you a fair and accurate estimate of what your claim could be worth. This can help prevent you from accepting an offer that an insurance company tries to convince you is fair. Your attorney should know how to negotiate a wrongful death claim with insurance companies. They may be able to use their experience and training to argue persuasively for you and your family by minimizing the weaker points of your claim and maximizing its strengths.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WRONGFUL DEATH INSURANCE CLAIMS
Tender the Policy (And Why the Insurance Adjuster Doesn’t Want to Do That)
Tendering a claim is an important first step in the process. An insurance company cannot be required to cover any expenses or damages until they are put on notice that they are required to do so. These companies may argue that the tendering has to be done in a particular way, and it also may be your first communication with the insurance company, so talking with an attorney tendering a claim may be wise.
When an insured party files a claim, the insurer has a special duty to honor that policy and act in good faith. This duty arises out of the contract that is created when the insured purchases insurance and begins to pay premiums. This duty includes the requirement of acknowledging receipt of the claim, investigating the claim quickly, and paying the claim promptly. If the insurance company that you are dealing with is acting in bad faith, then your attorney may be able to hold their feet to the fire and bring them back into compliance.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT NEGOTIATING WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY
How Long Does It Take to Settle with an Insurance Company?
Given the huge variety in types of cases that may result in a wrongful death claim, the time that it takes to settle with an insurance company can vary greatly. There really is no way to give an accurate estimate of timeframe without knowing the specific details of your case. That being said, complicated cases will generally take longer than cases with fewer moving parts. Overall, the process to resolve a claim may last from a couple of months to years.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
A lawyer may help to ensure that you are not taken advantage of. More important than simply having a lawyer, however, is having an experienced lawyer with the necessary time to spend on your case. The attorneys at Zinda Law Group are very selective when it comes to the cases that they bring on, which means your case will receive the attention that it deserves. Our lawyers have the experience necessary to competently handle your claim.
Read More: How to Find the Best Wrongful Death Lawyer
How Do I Start a Claim with an Insurance Company?
Before you can expect to receive any settlement offers from an insurance company, they need to be put on notice. This is done through a process called “tendering” a claim. There can be nuances in approaching tendering your claim, so it is best to seek the advice of a wrongful death lawyer before proceeding.
GET HELP FROM ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
Dealing with the death of a family member is extremely difficult, but hiring the right attorney may remove a great deal of weight from your shoulders. Our attorneys know how to negotiate wrongful death claims with insurance companies. We may be able to help you and your family recover compensation while you focus on grieving the loss of your loved one.
Zinda Law Group believes that the family members of accident victims shouldn’t need to worry about their family’s ability to afford legal representation, which is why we have a No Win, No Fee Guarantee—you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case for you.
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