Arriving at an injury settlement offer that is in your best interest can be a tricky and challenging process. Once the settlement negotiation process gets underway in your injury case, it is crucial that you have an effective strategy in place. You need the counsel and guidance of an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer who looks out for your best interests and fights hard to protect your rights every step of the way.
Here are six tips to help maximize your chances of getting the best possible settlement in your personal injury case:
When you put a demand letter together, you should have already figured out what your injury claim is worth. It is critical that you decide the minimum acceptable settlement figure even before you speak with the adjuster. Remember, this figure is only something you bear in mind, for your own information. At no point should you reveal this number to the adjuster.
This is a process where you need to keep your cards close to your chest. When the negotiations begin and numbers are thrown out, it helps if you already have your number in mind. So, when your adjuster makes a final offer, you don’t have to make a hurried decision whether you want to take it. If the adjuster’s offer doesn’t meet your minimum level, you know that you will not take it.
At the same time, don’t cling to the figure you originally set. If the adjuster sheds light on new details or information you had not considered or did not have before, you might want to lower your number. On the contrary, if the adjuster throws out a lowball offer or if you later discover evidence that makes your claim stronger, you might want to revise your number and make it higher.
When you enter into negotiations, it is important to understand that it is standard practice for insurance adjusters to start out with a low amount. Don’t be surprised if they deny liability altogether. This is a tactic insurance companies employ to see how well you understand what your claim is worth and also to test your patience. They want to see if you’ll take the first, low settlement they offer just because you want to be done with this ordeal.
When the insurance company makes its first offer, your response should hinge on whether it is a reasonable offer. If the offer is reasonable, you might want to make a counteroffer right away – close to what you asked for in the demand letter. This sends the adjuster the message that you are being reasonable and are willing to find the middle ground. With a little more negotiation, you should be able to get to a final settlement, which seems fair.
If the adjuster initially makes an offer so low that it almost seems insulting, don’t automatically lower the amount on your demand letter. That tells the insurance company that you will cave in to their tactics right away. Instead, ask the adjuster to give you the specific reasons why the offer is so low. Be sure that you are making notes as you have this conversation. To follow up, write a letter responding to each one of the factors the adjuster mentioned. If you have evidence to bolster any of your arguments, be sure to mention such evidence or present it, if possible. Ask the adjuster for a response to your reply letter. The adjuster should then make you a reasonable offer, which should pave the way for more negotiations and a final settlement figure.
Emotional appeal can be powerful. When you negotiate, emphasize emotional points that support your claim. For example, if your car was totaled or damaged, a photo of the damaged vehicle can help paint a picture. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you have images of injuries that were sustained in the crash, stitches received, etc. those images could be extremely powerful.
If your injury threw a wrench in your everyday activities such as taking your child to school or playing with your kids, be sure to mention that. While you cannot put a dollar amount on these factors, they can be very powerful and effective in getting an insurance company to settle an accident claim on your terms.
Don’t reduce the amount on your demand letter until you get a fresh offer from the adjuster. If the adjuster doesn’t budge or returns with a lower offer, go over all the points they may have raised. If you can present counter-arguments that are valid, or additional evidence, your chances of getting a better offer are much higher. If you find out that your insurance company is simply not willing to listen, you may have to put more pressure.
If you feel that negotiations are not going as you had hoped, you may want to speak with an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer. There are a few situations where it would be in your best interest to get an experienced lawyer on your side as soon as possible.
If you have suffered serious injuries and needed to be hospitalized and missed workdays, you need an attorney representing you and negotiating on your behalf. An insurance adjuster is more likely to take your case seriously if you have representation from a reputed lawyer with a track record of fighting insurance companies and obtaining big dollar settlements for their injured clients.
You can benefit from the guidance and counsel of a lawyer if you are seeking compensation for future damages such as lost future income, loss of earning capacity and ongoing treatment costs. You may also need a lawyer if there is an issue of fault in your case. Your attorney can help you compile evidence and craft a sound argument.
The letter should clearly state the amount. Our experienced Orange County personal injury attorneys can help guide you through what can be a complex process. Call us to find out how we can help protect your legal rights and help you secure fair and full compensation for your losses.