Negotiating a personal injury settlement is a process, not an event. It requires preparation, patience and persistence. Getting fair compensation for your injuries is something you will have to work at. The insurance companies hire professional negotiators and they have unlimited resources. It is important to follow these steps to get the best result.
How do I negotiate a personal injury settlement?
The first thing you will need to do is identify the insurance company of the at-fault party. If more than one person was at fault, there will be more than one insurance company to deal with. You will need to contact them and obtain their claim number for all correspondence and communication.
The next step will be allow the insurance company the time and opportunity to investigate the accident and your injuries. The insurance company will ask you to sign authorizations for them to collect your medical records and bills. We recommend against giving them that authority. You can provide it to them. You do not have to give them unfettered access to your medical history.
The third step will be to submit a demand package to the insurance company that contains the evidence necessary to support all of your claims. You will make a demand for all of your economic losses and for your non-economic losses, i.e. pain and suffering.
Fourth, you will negotiate with the claims adjuster. Be prepared for them to be critical of your evidence and to question everything you have provided. Insurance companies look for very specific types of evidence, and they will look for ways to minimize the evidence you provided in an effort to keep the settlement offer low.
Do not be surprised if you receive a low settlement offer. That is common practice in the insurance industry, especially for claimants who do not have an attorney representing them. Be patient. Claims adjusters know that many people will accept "lowball" offers, and they want to test to see if you are willing to do what it takes to get a fair offer.
Once you receive an offer from the insurance company, the negotiations begin in earnest. You will reject the insurance company's offer and make a counteroffer that is less than the amount you initially demanded, but more than the amount they offered. The insurance company will counter with an offer that is more than its initial offer. This process will continue until you either reach a settlement, or until one of the parties decides they are no longer willing to negotiate.
How do I know if the insurance offer is good?
A good offer from the insurance company will give you enough money to pay all of your outstanding medical bills, compensate you for the time you have missed from work and give you a reasonable amount of money for pain and suffering damages.
You will also need to consider any facts that make your claim less valuable such as pre-existing conditions and comparative fault. If you have a difficult or complicated case, that may affect your view of what constitutes a good offer.
There is a popular myth that insurance companies should pay two to three times the amount of medical expenses. That is a myth. There is rarely a correlation between the amount of medical expenses and the amount given for pain and suffering.
How long will it take to settle my personal injury claim?
The length of time required to settle a personal injury claim varies a great deal. The first question you need to ask is, "How long will it take me to recover from my injuries?" The negotiation process will really not even begin until you have reached maximum medical improvement.
Once you have completed the treatment for your injuries, it may take an additional three to four months before you have an offer from the insurance company. It takes time to gather all of the necessary evidence, and it will take time for the insurance company to perform their evaluation. The settlement process can be long and drawn out. We recommend that you pursue it with a great deal of patience and persistence.
Always keep in mind that personal injury cases are governed by a statute of limitations and other time limitations. If you fail to file the correct documents and/or a lawsuit within the time prescribed by law, you could be barred from making your claim.
The information on this page is intended to be general information. There are many variables that affect personal injury claims. We recommend having your case reviewed by a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney.
The information on this page is not intended to be legal advise specific to your case. This information does not create an attorney-client relationship.
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