Part of filing a personal injury claim is negotiating. There are no compulsory rules that should be followed when negotiating a personal injury claim but there are some guidelines that you should follow if you want a positive outcome.
What Should You Know About The Negotiation Process?
The negotiation process isn’t something that you can rush…it requires adequate planning, persistence and patience. We advise all our clients to take their time in between offers and counteroffers because it’s a great opportunity to reflect on how the case is progressing so far.
It’s very rare to make a mistake when negotiating a personal injury claim and even if you mess up, we can easily take care of it without doing any damage to your claim. Plus, you don’t need to spend sleepless nights worrying about what you said or didn’t say.
When you start negotiations, don’t expect the insurance adjuster to treat you fairly just because you are the victim of an accident. They are not bound by law to treat you fairly. In fact, there are adjusters out there who will take advantage of your situation and inexperience by offering you less than you deserve.
You have to be very patient with personal injury claim negotiations. Never ever show the adjuster that you need the money as soon as possible, even if you do. Once the adjuster senses that you are anxious, they willshift the focus from the facts of the case to your anxiety. Their counteroffers will be based on your anxiety.
When Should You File A Lawsuit And When Should You Negotiate A Personal Injury Claim?
Let’s first understand what the difference between a lawsuit and a personal injury claim is. A personal injury claim is usually between the victim and the insurance company of the person who is at fault. The process of filing for a claim involves a series of negotiations between the at-fault person’s insurance company and you. Hopefully, when the negotiations are over, you will both be satisfied with the settlement.
A personal injury lawsuit on the other hand happens when you and the insurance adjuster fail to come to an understanding. This usually happens when the adjuster:
- doesn’t think your injuries are as severe as you claim they are
- doesn’t think you deserve the amount you are asking for
- doesn’t believe their client is at fault
How Do You Start A Personal Injury Claim?
Your claim begins the moment you are injured or when your property is destroyed by somebody else’s negligence. To recover the costs, you have to pursue the person who is liable, who will then turn over the issue to their insurance company.
Once the insurance company receives notification that you are making a claim, they will assign the case to an insurance adjuster. The adjuster will open a claim and contact you to negotiate a settlement. If you come to an agreement during the settlement, then there will be no need to file a lawsuit.
The insurance adjuster will need evidence that shows indeed the accident was not your fault and it was caused by their client (the person at fault). They also need evidence that your injuries are severe enough to warrant a settlement. The adjuster will therefore investigate the following things:
- Any evidence that you provide
- Your medical bills and charts
- The police report
- The scene of the accident
- Your statements and witness statements
- The damage to your property and how much it will cost to repair it
During the negotiations process, your job will be to:
- Prove that the accident wasn’t your fault and that their client is the one at fault
- Prove that your injuries are severe and you needed to go to the hospital
- Prove the amount of money you spent at the hospital getting treatment is substantial
- Prove that because of your injuries, you were unable to work and you lost a substantial amount of your wages.
- Prove that your injuries have caused you discomfort and pain
Once the adjuster is done with investigations, they will make a decision based on the data they collect. They may decide to pay you the amount you are asking for in your personal injury claim or they might decide not to give you anything.
If the adjuster decides that you should be compensated, they will send you a release form and a check. From there, all you will have to do is sign the release form and cash your check. You won’t be able to file a lawsuit after that.
The 7 Steps Of Negotiating A Personal Injury Claim
1. Sending A Notification Letter
The first step of your negotiation is to send a notification letter to the insurance company of the person who is at fault. In your letter you should make it clear that due to the negligence of the person at fault, you suffered injuries and other damages and you will be seeking compensation. Sending this letter officially begins the process of negotiation.
2. Receiving The Reservation Of Rights Letter
The insurance company will send you a form letter in response to your letter of notification. The letter will indicate that they are reviewing your claim and will discuss it with you. This doesn’t mean that they are admitting liability on behalf of the person responsible for your injuries.
3. Sending Your Demand Letter
Once you have finished therapy and medical treatment, the next step is to send your demand letter to the insurance adjuster. The letter will clearly outline special damages. Special damages include medical bills, lost wages and out of pocket expenses.
Pain and suffering falls under general damages. If your personal injury claim is minor, you can multiply the total cost of your medical bill by a number between two and five. Your total settlement demand will be your special damages plus general damages.
4. Waiting For The Adjusters Response
Real negotiations begin when the adjuster finally responds to your demands. The adjuster will somehow tell you that your claim doesn’t have any value. They may even try to show you that they are knowledgeable and experienced by throwing statistics and terms at you.
They will tell you what their counteroffer is and make it look like they are doing you a favor. In short, they will do everything they can to ensure that they don’t give you the initial amount you asked for. Here’s why the adjuster will do this:
- They want to see if you are serious and how far you are willing to go.
- They want to see if you are anxious enough to jump at any offer they give you
- To see if you understand how the settlement process works
- To see if you are easily intimidated.
5. Responding To The Counteroffer
Politely tell the adjuster that you do not agree with the amount they are offering. Tell him that your injuries were real and the treatments you underwent were recommended by a doctor. Let them know that you will get back to them after reviewing their offer.
6. The Bargain Process
This is where you will continue with counteroffers and offers between you and the adjuster. Don’t make the mistake of calling the adjuster before they respond to your offer because it will give them the upper hand. They will see it as desperation on your part and they will give you a counter offer that is way below your drop dead figure.
Your drop dead figure is the lowest amount you are willing to take from the insurance company. You shouldn’t let the adjuster know what your drop dead figure is. If they are not able to meet your demands, then you should be prepared to file a personal injury lawsuit.
7. The Final Step
This is the part where you hopefully sign your release form and cash your check if you are able to settle your claim. If you are not able to come to an agreement with the adjuster, then you should be prepared to take the case to court.
Get In Contact With An Attorney To Help You Through The Negotiation Process
If you are not familiar with how the settlement process works, you could end up being compensated with less than you deserve or not being compensated at all. Personal injury claims are complicated and they require detailed knowledge of negligence law. It’s very important to find a personal injury lawyer to help you with your case. To get started, you can contact us at 508-746-2700 or visit our Plymouth offices for a free initial consultation.