If you’re filing a claim for personal injury in California, you generally have two (2) years from the date of the injury to file a claim, with a few exceptions. If you are injured in a car accident, your immediate…
Car Accident Settlement Negotiation Tips
When you make an insurance claim following a car accident to cover the costs of your property damage and injuries, it would of course be ideal if the insurance company automatically agrees to the amount you have claimed. Unfortunately, more often than that not, the insurance company will deny part or all of your claim and will generally offer much less than you believe you deserve.
It is highly important to realize that in this situation, you do not have to accept an inadequate settlement offer. In fact, it is always wise to discuss any offers with an experienced car accident attorney to help you determine whether a settlement offer is sufficient. In many cases, an injured victim will want to rush to accept a settlement so they can get the money as soon as possible to cover medical bills and other losses.
However, once you accept a settlement, you will lose the right to negotiate or make further claims in the future stemming from the accident. Therefore, carefully consider whether you want to accept an offer or keep negotiating.
Entering into negotiations with an insurance company can be stressful and intimidating. Insurance adjusters negotiate every day as part of their job and many injured victims have little to no idea of the tactics to use to successfully stand up for their rights. If you need assistance reviewing or negotiating an insurance settlement, you should not hesitate to discuss your situation with a skilled California car accident lawyer. In addition, the following are some tips for greater success in your negotiations.
Time Your Negotiations Appropriately
If you have received all the treatment you need and your injuries have healed, you should start moving forward in seeking a settlement to compensate you for your losses. However, it is important to take time to prepare for your claim in order to improve your position in the negotiations. You should gather all evidence needed to support your claim, which can include the following:
- Medical bills and records of your treatment;
- Statements from witnesses to the accident;
- Police reports;
- Property damage estimates;
- Photos, notes, or any other relevant evidence that supports the amount of losses you have incurred.
Once you’ve gathered the evidence, you have no reason not to move forward with your claim.
Start With a High Number
In negotiations for home or auto purchases, the seller wants to start with a high sales price, the consumer wants to start with a low sales price, and they both likely hope they can meet somewhere in the middle. Insurance negotiations are similar and an adjuster will generally “lowball” your offer at the beginning.
For this reason, it is important to make your initial claim for more than the amount you actually believe is reasonable. This leaves room for you to come down and meet the adjuster in the middle and still receive an adequate amount of compensation. If you need assistance deciding how much to claim, you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in auto insurance negotiations.
Do Not Give Up Too Early
Sometimes, you can be fortunate and the insurance adjuster will agree to a reasonable amount in the first discussion. However, in many other cases, insurance settlement negotiations will go back and forth several times before a reasonable amount is offered. This can be especially true in cases in which certain medical expenses or property damage valuations are contested. If you believe in the amount you are requesting, keep submitting evidence in support of your claim. The adjuster may withhold their best offer for several rounds of negotiations so it can be beneficial to hang in there and not give up negotiations too soon.
Identify When You Receive a Final Offer
While you should not give up too early, you should be aware when the insurance company is not going to budge and has made its final offer. Do not hesitate to ask the adjuster whether they will ever be able to increase an offer. You can request that the adjustor speak with a manager for possible authorization to go higher and, if authorization is declined, perhaps take that as a sign.
Look for other clues that may indicate whether they can increase the offer, such as saying “I can’t make a higher offer right now.” Specifying “right now” may be an important indication that the offer may be increased in a later round of negotiations.
Once you believe you’ve received a final offer, you must decide whether to accept the settlement or to pursue other means of compensation. If the amount is close to what you have deemed reasonable and fair, you should always feel free to accept the offer and receive the funds to cover your losses. If the amount is lower than your initial goal, you should carefully weigh your options of accepting the settlement or filing a personal injury claim in civil court.
If you believe you can receive a substantially higher amount by going to court, it is likely worth the time and energy to do so. If you do not think pursuing a legal claim will increase your recovery significantly, it may be better to accept a slightly lower amount than you had hoped for to avoid the resources needed for a court case. Discussing your options with an experienced attorney can be of significant assistance in making this decision.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Qualified California Car Accident Attorney
A skilled car accident lawyer will know how to help you throughout every stage of your case—from your initial insurance claim, to settlement negotiations, and the filing of a personal injury lawsuit if necessary. Importantly, an attorney can evaluate what your case is truly worth and can advise you whether a settlement offer is fair and reasonable.
Too many accident victims underestimate their cases as they forget about certain medical bills, lost wages, or other losses for which they can recover. If you have sustained injuries in an accident, call the law office of the GJEL Accident Attorneys in California today at 866-218-3776.