Negotiating a Car Accident Settlement
Car accidents are scary. Even if you walk away from the incident relatively unscathed, the loss of control over your personal safety can be rattling. This is especially true when you’ve suffered serious damage to your vehicle, your health, or your personal property. After you’ve been in a wreck caused by a negligent driver, it can feel like your fate is out of your hands entirely.
That sense of frustration continues as you navigate the requests of the insurance company. While we like to think of insurers as working for us, the truth is far less affirming. Insurance companies are out to make money for their shareholders. They’re looking to deny claims whenever they can. When they can’t, they offer the smallest settlements possible. For many accident victims, the lack of agency they have when discussing their experience with the insurance company can be maddening. It leads many people to wonder: can I negotiate my car accident settlement?
You may be surprised, but accident victims are indeed allowed to negotiate the terms of their car accident settlement. Though easier with an attorney representing you, the process can be done independently. Keep reading to learn more about the process and the best strategy to use to get the compensation you deserve.
How the Negotiation Process Works
When you call to inform the insurance company of your accident, the adjuster may make arguments against the strength of your claim. They may point out reasons why the incident wasn’t as devastating as you claim, and they’ll look for any reason possible to deny coverage entirely. In many cases, they’ll offer an initial settlement amount that feels too low for your needs. You can counter or take time to think about the offer. In many cases, accident victims turn to an experienced car crash lawyer for guidance.
An attorney can help you create a demand letter outlining your needs. In such a letter, you can list out your expenses associated with the wreck and how best to make you whole again. Medical costs, car repairs, lost wages, and even the pain and suffering you endured can be assigned a dollar amount. While most insurance companies will not take your demand letter as gospel, it does provide a helpful starting point for negotiations.
Writing a Demand Letter
When creating your demand letter, have a lump sum in mind for understanding what your claim is worth. From there, consider how low you are willing to go in negotiations. Having both a floor and a ceiling for negotiations is a must – a good car accident lawyer can help you understand this strategy. This range is for you to keep in mind when negotiations begin in earnest. You can keep your bottom line in perspective when under pressure from the insurance company to settle. This information does not need to be shared with the claims adjuster.
Instead, make sure your demand letter accurately reflects the truth about your incident. Be clear in your demands and present evidence to back up your claims. Medical bills, reports from the doctor, pay stubs reflecting the work you missed and other documents can help bolster your claim. The more support you have in your demand letter, the better your odds of getting the settlement you deserve.
Resisting Low Offers
After the insurance company receives your demand letter, they’ll likely try to low-ball you into taking a smaller settlement than you deserve. While it’s tempting to put the whole thing behind you, taking the first offer is typically a bad idea. The initial offer should be the base from which you negotiate upwards. If they offer you a reasonable amount, make a counteroffer that is a little lower than the figure you requested in your demand letter. This signifies to the claims adjuster that you’re willing to compromise. A little more effort when bargaining should get you to a number you feel good about.
Another strategy to consider when low offers are in play? Ask the claims adjuster to justify their low-ball offer. Ask for specific reasons why the number is so low when compared to the costs you’ve incurred. Make note of their explanation and write a short letter responding to their argument. Depending on the strength of their logic, you may want to lower your demand amount slightly. Wait until after the claims adjuster has received your letter to lower that amount, though. Ask for a response to your letter and see if anything has changed in their mind.
Get it in Writing
As negotiations continue, emphasize the emotional weight of your argument, not just the facts. No dollar amount can be assigned to the emotional impact the crash has had on you . But, the weight of sharing a particularly scary accident scene photo or a story of the impact the accident had on your child can sway even the most experienced of claims adjuster. Don’t stray from the facts, but don’t be afraid to appeal to the human nature of the person on the end of the line, either.
Once you get to a number you feel good about, be sure to get the agreement in writing. Outline the settlement you’ve agreed upon in a short letter to the adjuster. Include details about how much you’ve settled on, what the money covers, and the date you expect to receive compensation.
You don’t have to feel powerless when negotiating an accident settlement. Take control of your situation by arguing for a fair settlement from the insurance company. Unsure of your ability to negotiate with the professionals? Work with an attorney who is experienced in such talks. Lawsuit Info Center can help you connect with a highly-rated car accident attorney in your area now. Get started by clicking here or dialing 877-810-4067.