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.
You Don’t Have To Accept An Inadequate Settlement Offer
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 Settlement 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 After Your Car Accident
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.
6 Things to Know about Auto Accident Settlement Negotiation
If you’ve been in a car accident, you need to take steps to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Here’s what you should know:
- Start a Claim Right Away After a Car Accident: After a car collision, it’s important to contact your car insurance company as soon as possible. Tell them what happened in the accident and give them all the details you can remember. The faster you call, the better your memory will be about the accident. If you can’t make a claim right away, write down everything you remember about the accident.
- Keep Records of the Accident: Along with step 1, keep a file of everything related to the accident in order, like the police report, doctor visits, car repair bills, photos of damages, and anything else relevant. Keep both physical and digital copies of these documents, as you will need them during the negotiation process with your insurance company.
- Calculate a Fair Settlement: Before you ask for money from your insurance company, you need to figure out how much your claim is worth. This means looking at things like your medical expenses, lost wages if you couldn’t work, long-term medical needs, the pain and suffering you experienced, and the cost of fixing or replacing your car and other damaged property. Once you have all this information, decide on the lowest amount of money you will accept. If you’re having trouble figuring out a fair settlement, a top personal injury lawyer with experience in car accidents can help.
- Send a Demand Letter to the Insurance Company: Once you have a settlement amount in mind, write a letter to your insurance company and explain everything that happened in the accident, your injuries, and all the expenses and losses you’ve had because of the accident. Ask for the settlement amount you calculated in step 3. Keep in mind, the insurance company will probably offer you less money than you ask for, so ask for 25-100% more than your minimum settlement amount. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you write a strong demand letter and give you advice during this process.
- Don’t Accept the First Offer: The insurance company’s goal is to make a profit, so they will try to pay you as little as possible for your claim. When the insurance company makes an initial offer, it will likely be lower than you expected. A personal injury lawyer with experience in car accidents can help you review the offer and negotiate for a better settlement. If the first offer is too low, ask the insurance adjuster to explain why and respond with a letter saying why you can’t accept the offer. If the offer is reasonable but still too low, you can make a lower counteroffer.
- Emphasize Your Strong Points: When communicating with the insurance company, focus on the strongest points in your favor. Have evidence to support these points and work with your personal injury lawyer to make a plan for how to best present your case. The goal is to get the best settlement possible for your car accident claim.