If you are suffering from devastating injuries after an accident, the last thing on your to-do list is probably fighting with an insurance company in order to be fairly compensated for your medical bills. But the unfortunate reality is that while we’d all love for insurance companies to act in our best interest after a serious injury, their own interests will always come first. On a positive note, there are things you can do after an accident that will improve your chances of getting a fair settlement for your personal injury case. I’ll tell you more about how to strategize below, as well as when it may be time to meet with a Passaic County personal injury attorney.
Know What Your Claim is Worth
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making after an injury is that they don’t know how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement. Then they speak to the insurance company and take an offer that is nowhere near what they need or deserve. As a rule, under no circumstances should you speak to your insurer about a settlement number before you’ve decided on the minimum settlement amount you would be willing to accept.
Tally all of your medical bills, pay you have lost from taking time off work, and any costs for treatment that will be ongoing (your doctor can help you with this number). If your case is especially complicated and you cannot estimate this number, speak with a lawyer before you discuss your case with the insurance company. They can help you determine the value of your case.
During negotiations, your minimum number should remain private: don’t let the insurance adjuster know what your minimum is. Instead, use it as a guideline during your discussions. Keep in mind that you can always change this number if, for example, you discover that an injury will be chronic rather than immediately treatable, or if you have to miss more work than anticipated.
Don’t Settle for a Lowball Offer
It’s no secret that insurance companies often try to get away with a lowball offer in the first round of negotiations. Some people fail to realize this, never research how much their claim might actually be worth, and take the lowball offer only to realize much later that they don’t have enough money to pay their medical bills.
If the insurance adjuster makes an offer that is below your minimum settlement number, don’t take it right away. Request that the adjuster explain the reasoning behind their offer amount, and make sure to write down the information they give you. This way, when you respond to the offer (which you should do in writing), you can argue against any reasoning that seems incorrect or unfair. Some of the adjustor’s reasons may be legitimate, and if this is the case, it is okay to accept some of them while arguing against others. At this point, write them a counteroffer letter explaining your reasoning. Hopefully this will sway the adjustor toward a more favorable offer.
Know How to Negotiate
When trying to get a fair settlement, it never hurts to negotiate, and it will often turn out in your favor. With a bit of negotiating, you may be able to get the settlement amount in the ballpark of what you’re looking for. But you’ll have to argue with specifics in order to influence the adjustor.
Whether you are updating your demand letter or speaking on the phone to the adjuster, make sure you refer to and emphasize the specifics of your case as much as possible. Adjusters deal with many people each day, and may not recall the important details that could move the needle in your favor. Refer them to the photos you sent of your damaged vehicle or your injuries. Remind them that the other driver was talking on their phone at the time of the accident. In addition, don’t hold back in regard to how the accident has affected your life. If you are no longer able to do an activity you used to love due to your injuries, or you have been unable to work, care for your children, or have experienced other difficulties, remind them of this.
If you do reach an agreement, make sure to put it in writing right away by sending the adjuster a letter confirming the amount you agreed on.
Stand Your Ground With Your Claim Amount
Remember that you should never lower the amount in your demand letter until the adjuster has submitted a new offer. Under no circumstances should you reduce your demand without an increase on the adjustor’s end. If the adjuster won’t budge, and their reasons for their low offer are not reasonable, it is time to consider other tactics for getting fair compensation.
Unfortunately, if you have serious injuries as well as pain and suffering totaling more than a few thousand dollars, it will be difficult to get the adjustor to change their offer. This is also true if your claim includes future damages, such as ongoing medical treatment or a loss of income in years to come. In addition, if there is any question as to who was at fault for the accident, it can be hard to get the insurance company to agree to your settlement amount and may be time to seek legal help.
Get a Personal Injury Attorney on Your Team
Whether an adjuster is bullying you and trying to get you to agree to a reduced settlement amount, or they simply won’t budge in their offer, at a certain point there may come a time when you need a personal injury attorney. This is especially true if your case is more complex than the average fender-bender--for example, if you had serious injuries or there are questions about who was responsible for the accident. In these cases, a Passaic County personal injury attorney can help you negotiate so you can get back to regular life as much as possible.
Bavagnoli & Bavagnoli has been representing victims of injury settlements in Northern New Jersey for over 27 years. Our caring team prides itself on giving each and every client the individualized help they deserve. We are happy to discuss your case with you at any time.
Contact us today for a free consultation at (973) 785-9522.