Getting the best injury settlement possible can be a tricky and challenging process.
Once the settlement negotiation process gets underway for your personal injury claim, it is crucial that you know how to execute a successful strategy.
Here are six tips to help you take action that will help you maximize your chances of getting the best possible settlement for your personal injury case:
1. Find a figure you can live with.
When you put a demand letter together, you should have already figured out what your injury claim is worth. It is critical that you decide the minimum acceptable settlement figure before you speak with the adjuster.
Remember, this figure is one you should keep to yourself. At no point should you reveal this number to the adjuster.
This is a process where you need to keep your cards close to your chest.
When the negotiations begin and numbers are thrown out, it helps if you already have your number in mind. So, when your adjuster makes a final offer, you don't have to make a hurried decision about whether or not you want to take it.
If the adjuster's offer doesn't meet your minimum acceptable settlement figure, you know that you will not accept the offer.
At the same time, don't cling to the figure you originally set if it becomes unrealistic. If the adjuster sheds light on new details or information you had not considered or did not have before, you might want to lower your number.
However, if the adjuster throws out a lowball offer or if you later discover evidence that makes your claim stronger, you might want to revise your number and make it higher.
2. Don't take the first offer.
When you enter into negotiations, it is important to understand that it is standard practice for insurance adjusters to start out with a low amount.
Don't be surprised if they deny liability altogether.
This is a tactic insurance companies employ to see how well you understand what your claim is worth and also to test your patience. They want to see if you'll take the first, low settlement they offer just because you want to be done with this ordeal.
When the insurance company makes its first offer, your response should hinge on whether it is a reasonable offer.
If the offer is reasonable, you might want to make a counteroffer right away – close to what you asked for in the demand letter.
This sends the adjuster the message that you are being reasonable and are willing to find the middle ground.
3. If the offer is low, ask why.
If the adjuster initially makes an offer so low that it almost seems insulting, don't automatically lower the amount on your demand letter. That tells the insurance company that you will cave into their tactics right away.
Instead, ask the adjuster to give you the specific reasons why the offer is so low. Be sure that you are making notes as you have this conversation.
To follow up, write a letter responding to each one of the factors the adjuster mentioned. If you have evidence to bolster any of your arguments, be sure to mention such evidence or present it, if possible.
Ask the adjuster for a response to your reply letter. The adjuster should then make you a reasonable offer, which should pave the way for more negotiations and a final settlement figure.
Emotional appeal can be powerful.
When you negotiate, emphasize emotional points that support your claim. For example, if your car was totaled or damaged, a photo of the damaged vehicle can help paint a picture.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you have images of injuries that were sustained in the crash, stitches received, etc. those images could be extremely powerful.
If your injury threw a wrench in your everyday activities such as taking your child to school or playing with your kids, be sure to mention that.
While you cannot put a dollar amount on these factors, they can be very powerful and effective in getting an insurance company to settle an accident claim on your terms.
4. Wait for a new offer.
Don't reduce the amount on your demand letter until you get a fresh offer from the adjuster. If the adjuster doesn't budge or returns with a lower offer, go over all the points they may have raised.
If you can present counter-arguments that are valid, or additional evidence, your chances of getting a better offer are much higher. If you find out that your insurance company is simply not willing to listen, you may have to put more pressure.
5. Contact an experienced injury lawyer.
If you feel that negotiations are not going as you had hoped, you may want to speak with attorney Timothy J. Ryan. There are a few situations where it would be in your best interest to get an experienced lawyer on your side as soon as possible.
If you have suffered serious injuries, were hospitalized, and missed workdays, you need an attorney representing you and negotiating on your behalf.
An insurance adjuster is more likely to take your personal injury claim seriously if you have representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer with a track record of fighting insurance companies.
You can benefit from the guidance and counsel of a lawyer if you are seeking compensation for future damages such as lost future income, loss of earning capacity and ongoing treatment costs.
You may also need a lawyer if there is an issue of fault in your personal injury claim. Your attorney can help you compile evidence and craft a sound argument.
6. Finally, when you and the adjuster finally agree on a number, make sure you get it all in writing.
The letter should clearly state the amount. Our experienced legal staff can help guide you through what can be a complex process. Contact us to find out how we can help protect your legal rights and help you secure fair and full compensation for your losses.