Negotiating a Settlement in Personal Injury Cases: A Primer
In the majority of personal injury cases, a negotiated settlement is the final resolution, rather than a drawn out lawsuit and trial involving judges and juries. All personal injury cases hinge on this idea of negligence. To receive the best possible settlement or outcome in your case, you have to show that the defendant in the case was responsible for your safety. If that failed responsibility led directly to your injury, the defendant would likely be found guilty of negligence.
To secure the best possible settlement for you and your family in the wake of a costly injury, you’ll want to be sure to follow certain tips on how to handle that first low-ball settlement offer from the defendant. This first step on your part can have a large bearing on the remaining negotiations, and, ultimately, on the final compensation amount.
Investigate the Offer
Before you do anything, take a breath. Responding immediately and with a lot of emotion can dash your credibility for the rest of the negotiations. Whether you’re working with a defense lawyer or an insurance adjuster, keep your cool. The first offer is usually just a temperature-taking exercise and does not indicate where they might be willing to go necessarily.
With that, in most cases it isn’t exactly wise to accept this initial offer right off the bat, even if you are facing a financial shortfall in the wake of the incident.
Respond with a Letter
Before you make a formal response to the offer, it’s common for the plaintiff to ask the insurance adjuster several questions about the offer and why it might have been lower than you expected it to be. These answers from the insurance adjuster will help guide you in drafting your response to the initial offer and submission of a counteroffer.
It’s important to note that you may not receive a response to your questions right away. You may need to remind the insurance adjuster of your questions after a few days if you do not receive a response. Once the answered questions are in hand, you can draft your formal response and counteroffer.
If, for example, it became clear through the course of your question and answers with the insurance adjuster that the extent of your injuries was not apparent, you can provide specific and updated medical bill documents and other doctor-related information in your formal response. It is in your best interest to provide the source documents for these, including copies of your medical bills, treatment forms and other descriptive documents. Documentation of all of this is extremely important if you expect to get a fair settlement from the insurance company.
Determine the Amount of Your Counteroffer
Counter-offering with an outlandishly high number can also be detrimental to the overall negotiations. It is best to calculate the number based on the bills you have in hand.
There are often multiple back and forth offers through the negotiation process. If you’re wary of doing this yourself or feel unprepared to do so, contact an experienced attorney to help you work with insurance adjusters.
Get the Settlement Agreement in Writing
Once you have come to an agreeable number with the insurance adjuster, ensure you get this in writing. Write a letter to the insurance adjuster with the final number and agreement details. From there, make sure the insurance adjuster writes in their acknowledgement of this agreement.
Lost? Enlist the Help of a Lawyer
If you are concerned you don’t know how to do this yourself or are worried you won’t be able to come to an agreeable settlement, contact the lawyers at Boone & Davis Law in Broward County, Florida. We will assist you in recovering the compensation that you truly deserve.