Your Roadmap to Maximize Your Settlement!!!

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1 Your Roadmap to Maximize Your Settlement!!! Helpful tips to get the most money for your injuries. The Advocates Driggs, Bills and Day PC (801)

2 Table of Contents: Introduction: Understanding the insurance game: Don t forget your own insurance: Negotiate like a pro: Putting more money into your pocket: Health insurance subrogation: Conclusion: pg.3 pg.5 pg.8 pg.11 pg.13 pg.14 pg.16 2

3 Introduction: Research shows that people who hire lawyers obtain 3 ½ times more money than someone who settles the case on their own. Why is that? There are many reasons. Attorneys have more experience in situations like this; they have better negotiating skills, professional education, and the power to sue. For over 20 years, the Advocates at Driggs Bills & Day have helped thousands of people get great results for their injury claims. 3

4 We decided to create this ebook to help people who, for one reason or another, are nervous about hiring a lawyer. We wanted to give accident victims the best strategies possible so they could be treated fairly by insurance companies and make sure their future medical bills and expenses are covered. After reading this guide you will have more knowledge and better strategies to improve your settlement results, although hiring an attorney is always the best way to ensure a fair settlement. As your Advocates, we genuinely want to help and we are happy to answer your questions for free. After reading through this ebook if you decide that you want an attorney to help, we are available 24/7 by phone (801) , or on our website, 4

5 Understanding the Insurance Game: In order to maximize your settlement you must first understand who controls the money and what motivates them to pay it out. Every injury claim is assigned to an insurance adjuster. The adjuster is responsible for gathering information and determining the amount that should be paid for each claim. Each adjuster has a supervisor, and each supervisor has a supervisor. Each level has greater authority to pay more for a claim. For example, the assigned adjuster may be able to pay claims up to $10,000 without permission from the supervisor. That supervisor may have authority to pay claims up to $50,000. The next level supervisor may have the authority to pay claims up to $250,000 and so on. Knowing who controls the money helps you to determine how you will present your claim and who your audience will be. Once you determine who you need to convince, you need to know what motivates these adjusters. What are their concerns and rewards? Occasionally you will get an adjuster who truly cares 5

6 about what has happened to you and wants to make things right. This small percentage of adjusters are motivated by doing what is right and helping you recover. These adjusters are great to work with and they will generally tell you what you need to do to maximize your claim. If you are lucky enough to get one of these adjusters give them the relevant information they want, but we never recommend you sign a general medical release. Insurance companies will use this to search for information used to minimize or deny your claim. Unfortunately, most adjusters are motivated by their own self interest. These adjusters care about not losing their job, saving the company money, and looking good to their superiors. This is accomplished by paying as little money as possible. To these adjusters you are not a person, but rather you are just a file. You are a burden to them because your file means more work. When working with these adjusters, the best way to maximize your settlement is to make their job easier. If you can provide the information to them, this will help them justify paying you, and your case will settle faster and for more money. Adjusters can only pay you for damages that are documented. Give the adjuster everything you can so they can justify paying you more. The documents 6

7 will help increase the size of your settlement. Give all of the following records to your adjuster. All medical records All medical bills (this includes the total amount billed, not just your copays). This also includes prescriptions. Photographs of your car if there is substantial property damage. Photographs of all scars and bruising Proof of lost income. You will need documentation from your employer as well as a letter from your doctor. This is only a partial list, but it illustrates the concept that to get bigger settlements you must provide documentation. Other important documents you may need to produce include police reports, Google maps, repair estimates, rental car expenses, etc. One advantage of obtaining the help of attorneys such as The Advocates is that they know what the insurance companies are looking for, and will get them the most relevant information. This allows victims time to focus on getting better rather than the headaches of dealing with the insurance companies. 7

8 If you want to increase your settlement you must first understand who will be deciding your claim and then give them what they want. The more documentation you give them, the more they can justify paying for your injuries. Don t forget your own insurance: Each month you pay out lots of money for auto insurance. Unfortunately most people have no idea what types of benefits they are paying for. To illustrate this point, consider the following example from Matthew Driggs personal experience: At age twenty four, Erica had her whole life ahead of her. She was a beautiful young woman who was working as a nurse in a local hospital. She loved to travel and serve others and had just started a new relationship that seemed to have potential. One night while riding her bike, she was tragically hit from behind by a car and thrown over fifty feet. Erica died at the scene. The car kept driving and disappeared into the night. After an 8

9 exhausting search by the police, the driver was never found. While talking to the distraught father, I could see the pain and loss he was expressing on his face. He was struggling with so many emotions and on top of that he had to pay for all of the medical and funeral expenses. When I told him that all of those expenses would be paid by his own insurance company, he was shocked. He had no clue that his own insurance would cover an accident caused by some unknown driver. He thought, Erica wasn t even in a car. How could my car insurance pay for that? Needless to say, he was relieved to know that all of her expenses would be paid and his daughter would be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages and a substantial sum for his pain and suffering. Every year millions, if not billions of dollars go unpaid to accident victims, who should have been covered by their own insurance company, because of simple ignorance. You are paying for these benefits. Make sure you get them. Don t hold your breath waiting for the insurance company to tell you. If you don t ask they won t pay. The following are some of the most commonly missed benefits. Uninsured motorist benefits (UM). 9

10 This was one of the benefits available to the family of Erica. Since she was hit by an unidentified and/or an uninsured driver. These benefits are available to the uninsured motorist provision of your own policy. Under insured motorist benefits (UIM). After all of an at fault driver s insurance has been paid, your insurance can pay more. These benefits are available to you even if your car was not involved in the accident. PIP Benefits. These are the first benefits to be paid by your own insurance regardless of who was at fault. In Utah the following benefits are available. A minimum of 3000 dollars for medical expenses. Lost income up to $ per week. Loss of household services. Loss of household services is possibly the most unused benefit. After an accident, if you have anyone, including your family members, help you with household chores, this can be reimbursed by your own insurance. You are entitled to per day to help you while you get back on your feet. These services can include lawn 10

11 mowing, vacuuming, cleaning, yard work, driving, and more. Attached, we have included a simple form you can use to get these benefits from your insurance company. There are many other types of coverage not listed above that you pay for each month. As you tap into these benefits you will find extra money that will be in addition to the money you get from the other person s insurance. Negotiate like a pro: Once all of the documentation to the insurance company has been submitted, it is time to negotiate a settlement. As you can imagine, there are many negotiation strategies that can be used depending on the case. We cannot go into all of the different strategies here, but there are a few simple strategies that you can almost always use to get more money. We strongly recommend that injured victims consult with a qualified attorney prior to attempting to negotiate a settlement. 11

12 Higher authority If you are like most people, it is often hard to ask for things. Most people feel uncomfortable negotiation on behalf of themselves. No one wants to look greedy or uncooperative. The simple solution use the negotiation strategy called Higher authority. Using this strategy is easy and effective. As you negotiate you simply tell the adjuster you have to clear it with your spouse, parent, significant other, etc. You are in essence giving your authority to settle to someone else who is in a higher position of authority. During your next conversation with the adjuster, you can blame your spouse, parent, significant other, for your unwillingness to settle for less. It becomes much easier to hold out for more money on the advice of your higher authority and makes the negotiation much easier and less emotional. Ask for add ons As you negotiate your property damage claim and other parts of your case, feel free to ask for add ons. As you come to the end of a negotiation and you feel like it is a reasonable settlement, before you finish the deal, ask for an add on. Add ons include items such as; Loss of use of vehicle 12

13 Rental car charges Storage Towing Personal items lost or damaged Tax and registration fees Be creative and think of other smaller items that can be added on at the end of the negotiation. Putting more money into your pocket, get reductions! Once you have maximized your settlement amount using great negotiation skills, you now need to stretch the money and make the most out of the money obtained. After an accident you will probably have bills that still need to be paid. Keep in mind every dollar you save (don t pay to medical bills) goes into your pocket. It s fairly common in this industry for attorneys to help get reductions for the outstanding medical bills. In fact, providers such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Workers Comp routinely reduce their claims for reimbursement by at least 1/3 when funds are recovered by an attorney. 13

14 Medical providers want to get paid sooner rather than later. In addition, they are used to giving reductions because health insurance always requires doctors to reduce their bills. Simply put: If you want to put more money in your pocket, call the medical provider and ask the doctor for a reduction. You could simply ask, If I pay everything now would you reduce my bill by 25 40%? This one phone call could put thousands of dollars into your pocket Health insurance subrogation: When health insurance is involved and has paid medical expenses, it will want to be paid back. Health insurance companies have a right to be paid back from the settlement funds. This is called subrogation. Attorneys are almost always beneficial to a case because they negotiate with the health insurance companies to pay them back less. In addition to the 33% the insurance company will often reduce for attorney fees, they will often accept even less. For example, let s assume the health insurance has paid $10, for expenses related to your injuries. If you don t ask, you will be required to repay $10, If you simply ask for a reduction, they may reduce thousands of 14

15 dollars and that money goes directly into your pocket. Note: Be careful to review your health insurance reimbursement because sometimes the health insurance company will include treatment that was not related to the accident. You are obviously not required to repay the health insurance for treatment that is not related. In some instances you will not be required to pay back your health insurance at all. You must determine this based on the health insurance documents themselves. State and Federal statutes and case laws are also important in determining how much health care providers are entitled to for reimbursement. Again, we strongly recommend that injured victims consult with a qualified attorney prior to attempting to negotiate health and subrogation claims. 15

16 Conclusion: Accidents can turn your life upside down. At The Advocates, we want you to be treated fairly by insurance companies and get the benefits you or your loved ones deserve. Negotiating the insurance claims can be very difficult and frustrating. Please feel free to call us with any question you may have and we will do our best to help you. We wish you the best as you work through this difficult time. Our attorneys are available to answer your questions 24/7 if you have any questions at (801) , or chat live with an attorney by visiting our website, 16

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