When making a personal injury claim after being the victim of an accident that was not your fault, there may come a time when you have to negotiate with an insurance company adjuster. The likelihood of this happening increases when you consider that a high proportion of personal injury claims are eventually settled out of court after sometimes protracted negotiations.
Negotiation is an art that requires a high degree of skill and experience. As a result, it goes without saying that negotiating a personal injury claim settlement is best left to the professionals. Hiring an attorney that specializes in litigating personal injury claims is essential. They will take away the stress and anxiety that is always involved in personal injury cases while taking care to listen to your concerns in order to achieve an outcome that you consider to be fair.
Successful personal injury claims depend on a collaborative relationship between the client and a lawyer. There are several important tips to be aware of to ensure that you reach a settlement figure that best suits you.
Settle on a Figure
The first step to filing a personal injury claim is to put together a demand letter complete with supporting documents and evidence. This letter is then presented to the insurance company to get the ball rolling.
Inside the demand letter needs to be a fixed sum which you believe your claim to be worth. This sum will depend on the severity of the injuries or damages you sustained as a result of the accident. You should itemize the total, factoring in medical costs, care costs, and loss of earnings calculations. This is where your attorney will come in handy since they will have experience in generating realistic settlement figures gained over years of litigating cases such as yours.
When coming up with a settlement sum, keep in mind that you will likely have to drop your initial demands after a period of negotiation with the other side’s lawyers. This is why it is helpful to settle on a minimum sum that you are prepared to accept at this early stage. If you are not able to negotiate for your minimum sum, you can then decide to take your case to the courts.
Play Hardball at the Start of Negotiations
When negotiations begin in earnest, it is common practice for the insurance adjuster dealing with your case to test the waters with a settlement offer that falls far below the valuation sum in your demand letter. When this happens, it is a good idea to stick to your guns initially, threatening to withdraw from the negotiations to pursue an in-court settlement if the sum is not increased to a reasonable amount.
If the first offer made by the insurance adjuster is reasonable yet still on the low side, you may choose to play ball and quickly submit a counteroffer that is slightly lower than the figure set out in your demand letter. This will show the adjuster that you are willing to be flexible and that a settlement can be reached.
Have the Adjuster Itemize Their Offer
If you are disappointed with the figure that you are being offered, and effective negotiating tactic is to have the adjuster justify the sum via a full breakdown of the costs. Once you have received an itemization, you can then write a letter in which you comprehensively take apart the figure, explaining how the calculations are disproportionate to the real value of the damages. You can use this argument to justify your own counteroffer, increasing the weight of your claim, and applying pressure on the adjuster to payout.
Play on the Emotional Side of Your Claim
In our experience, the claimants that manage to get a settlement that is close to the figure from their initial demand letter do so by appealing to the emotional sensibilities of the insurance adjuster. By this, we mean that you should take care to explain how the damages and health problems that resulted from the accident have negatively impacted your quality of life. Do not hesitate to refer to photos of injuries and property damage that you used in your initial demand letter. If you facing a legal issue visit Strom & Associates.
Set Everything Out in Writing
If you are able to arrive at a settlement that is mutually acceptable to both parties, request a letter that lays out the terms of the settlement in detail. Make sure that the letter contains a breakdown of the full amount to be paid, what it is being paid for, and on which date you will receive it. If you do not understand the letter, or if parts of it are ambiguous, do not hesitate to query it until you get full confirmation on its details. By doing so, you will avoid any complications that could rear their heads at a later stage.