Car Accident Settlement Tips
If you’ve sustained an injury following a car accident that wasn’t your fault, chances are you’ll be negotiating a settlement with the insurance company of the “at fault” driver. Keeping in mind that most insurance companies and their employees are trained and often paid extra to pay as little as possible in a car accident settlement, here are some tips you can use to help get ready for your negotiations:
- Document as much as possible: At the scene of the accident, take lots of pictures. Write down names and contact information for any potential witnesses or responding police officers, car models involved in the crash, license plate numbers – anything that may help your case later. Even if it seems irrelevant at the time, it’s usually better to have more information and proof than you need. Anything that can be proven with irrefutable evidence is going to make your case that much stronger than getting into a “he said she said” argument.
- Have a car accident settlement amount in mind at the beginning: If possible, try to have the total dollar amount of your property damage, medical bills, and lost income, as well as estimates for potential expenses related to ongoing recovery, such as chiropractic work or physical therapy. If you the injuries you sustained as a result of the car accident will cause you significant long term pain or prevent you from doing things you enjoy, you should typically include a pain & suffering multiplier to the sum of that number. For more on how to calculate an auto accident settlement, please try our car accident settlement calculator and read the explanation below it on how the estimate is calculated.
- Write a good demand letter: Including any documented evidence such as photos or witness statements, write a letter explaining why their client’s negligence caused your injury, how much money that injury will cost you in the end, and what you think is a fair settlement amount for the car accident. For more on this, please see our series on How To Write A Car Accident Demand Letter.
- Do not settle for the first offer! This is a negotiation, and any good negotiator knows you always start higher or lower than you want to end, depending on which side of the negotiation you’re on. Again keeping in mind that insurance companies are for profit entities, and the fact that every extra dollar paid to you is an extra dollar that’s not on their bottom line at the end of the fiscal year, they’re pretty much guaranteed to throw a lowball offer your way in hopes that you’ll bite. At this point, you’ll want to reiterate the points made in your demand letter, reminding the insurance rep of why your number is what it is.
- Speak to an attorney about your claim if you don’t feel like you’re getting a fair offer. Since the insurance adjuster has probably been through the process hundreds, if not thousands of times more than you have, it can be helpful to enlist someone who’s also equally experienced fighting for you. Read more on choosing an attorney after a car accident. For a free consultation with a car accident attorney in your state, please call
- Once you receive a sufficient offer, make sure to get the offer in writing. Sign any paperwork needed, and wait for your check to arrive.