The Wrongful Death Insurance Claims Process

The insurance claims process and the negotiation and settlement of a wrongful death case may be more difficult than ever due to the current economic environment.

In times of an economic recession or a slow economic period, the insurance industry may aggressively resist or defend a wrongful death case to avoid paying out a reasonable settlement or verdict. Like most businesses,  insurance companies are tightening their belts and cutting back on costs wherever they can.

Unfortunately, one of the primary targets of these cost-cutting measures is you – the person who brings a claim. In the case of a wrongful death claim, it is the surviving family members who may be victims of an overzealous insurance company focused on minimizing its exposure and increasing its profits.

The insurance adjuster assigned to your case may try to settle the claim fast and at a relatively low dollar figurebefore you have a true understanding of the claim and what the claim may be worth. What may seem like a large sum of money can be deceptively low, especially to a family that is facing burial costs, estate settlements, and care for minor children.

Insurance Companies Don't Want You to Hire an Attorney

Sometimes, the adjuster will try to dissuade you from hiring an attorney by settling quickly. Usually this occurs because the insurance company knows that an experienced wrongful death attorney will likely have better leverage when negotiating a wrongful death case and can recover much more money than the unrepresented family member can ever recover on his or her own.

I see the flat-out denial of claims in my practice more now than ever. Insurance companies are looking for any reason they can to deny a claim.

The insurance adjuster may misrepresent the amount of insurance coverage that may exist. Other times, the insurance company may falsely represent which parties may be legally at fault, and therefore liable for paying monetary damages. Sometimes, the adjuster may give false legal advice about the status of the wrongful death laws or misrepresent the type and/or quantity of damages that may be recoverable.

Whatever the reason or method used, the insurance company cannot be trusted to protect the interests of the surviving family members. No matter how compassionate and caring an insurance company representative may seem, keep in mind that their interest and your interest are not the same.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.
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