Tips For Facing Your First Injury Settlement Negotiations

Posted on: 10 August 2016

When you're in the midst of negotiations to settle your personal injury case, the whole process can feel like a bit of a whirlwind. Negotiation usually starts shortly after the case is filed, and the process can be a little bit overwhelming at first. If you've never negotiated with an insurance company for settlements, it's in your best interest to work directly with a personal injury attorney for the settlement. However, here are some things you might want to know in advance to make the process less intimidating.

Don't Count On The First Offer Being The Best

It's tempting to want to finish the negotiation process as quickly as possible, which may leave you wanting to jump on the first offer that comes in. But you shouldn't assume that the first offer is the best one that you're going to get. That first offer is usually an effort to settle the claims for the least amount possible, so it's not always in your best interest to accept that one right away.

Even if the offer that they make is reasonable, you should talk with your attorney about a counter offer. Increase the settlement amount to something that's a little bit less than your initial demand letter amount. That shows that you may be willing to negotiate, but you're still looking for a fair settlement.

Avoid Letting Low Offers Make You Emotional  

If that first offer that the insurance company makes is a low one, don't let it make you emotional. Remember that the low offer is common practice at the beginning of negotiations and the insurance company's goal is to settle this with as little an expense as possible. When you view the offer from that perspective, you'll be able to work with your attorney to create a rational and logical counter offer.

However, sometimes keeping an emotional distance is challenging. When the bills are piling up and you're struggling to make ends meet, it's hard to stay calm and reasonable. So before you review an offer, take a deep breath and try to remember that this is only the beginning of the negotiation process.

Remember That You Can Ask Questions  

When you receive an offer from the insurance company, remember that you are entitled to ask the adjuster about what factors affected the amount they decided to offer. In fact, it's often better for you to do just that. The more you ask about the settlement offer, the easier it will be for you to draft a rebuttal that addresses those factors that reduced the offer amount.

Just remember that you'll need to be objective about your assessment. Your attorney can help you look at each claim that the adjuster made so that you can develop a reasonable explanation or rebuttal for any points that you can contest. If there are any valid points raised, make sure that you acknowledge those and adjust the counter offer accordingly. Reducing your counter offer for anything you can see as legitimate will show the adjuster that you aren't inflexible or unreasonable.

You'll also want to remember that your counter offer should be based on an amount that's reasonable for the claim, not the amount you personally feel you should be entitled to. For example, if you believe that you're entitled to $250,000 for lost work, medical bills and suffering but the insurance company is offering $150,000, you'll want to be reasonable and lower your asking amount to somewhere in between. Remember that it may require more than one counter offer before a settlement is reached. Have patience with the process to ensure that you get a fair settlement.

Always Put It All On Paper

Make sure that every settlement offer you receive is put in writing. This ensures that there are no misunderstandings or miscommunication between your attorney and the insurance company's representatives. When you arrive at a settlement agreement, put it on paper right away to ensure that everything is documented. Have someone from the insurance company, such as the adjuster, sign to acknowledge the accuracy of the information, then sign it yourself for documentation. Then, make a copy of that document as well as the final settlement agreement that's filed with the court.

Your personal injury attorney may have more tips to help you prepare for your settlement negotiations as well.