Personal Injury law is one of the most complex types of law in the U.S. These cases often involve complicated situations with many participants and possibly corporations, so insurance adjusters and legal counsel are usually part of the process. The number of parties involved can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings that can leave you in the lurch, accepting less money than you’re entitled to or getting your suit dismissed altogether.
It’s essential to be as smart as possible about how you approach these settlements, and our first recommendation is always to first consult with your legal counsel about how best to proceed. However, if you still have questions, we have created this guide to negotiating the best settlement for yourself and your family.
Should You Accept the First Insurance Settlement Offer?
The first settlement offer may tempt you. As a general rule, the first offer is rarely the best, and it’s not a good idea to accept the first settlement offer presented by the insurance company. On the contrary, the insurance adjuster is usually trying to pay as little as possible.
Whether you’re dealing with the corporation themselves or a third-party insurance company, they usually are just gauging your willingness to settle. You should have legal counsel at this stage; settlements toward an unrepresented party are consistently much lower than those with qualified attorneys at their backs.
While your lawyer will have more detailed instructions on whether or not to accept the offer, make sure you’ve outlined all of the details of your case. Often an insurance settlement is negotiated as a result of a car accident or another event that caused serious injury or even death.
What were the circumstances that made the other party liable? What bills were created as a result of their negligence? Was there mental pain and suffering have you experienced due to this car accident or another event? How can you determine the max payout according to the policies of the insurance company?
The more details you can express, the better you can advocate for yourself. A solid, written document and any evidence that proves your claim is essential if you plan on taking a hard line once the first offer is received. Insurance company adjusters often want to cut corners wherever they can, so any holes in your story will almost always be uncovered and emphasized.
It’s better to think of your first offer as more of a negotiation. The insurance company needs a base point to jump off of, and you need an offer to counter with a higher amount.
Just as it’s natural for them to try to keep their payouts as low as possible, it’s natural for you to, at the very least, weigh your options before accepting. As always, your attorneys will have the best advice on how to negotiate with the insurance company adjuster and their parent company.
Should You Ever Accept A Settlement Offer?
You may have been offered a settlement and are wondering if you should accept the first settlement offer. Ultimately, you are always the boss when it comes to accepting a settlement offer. You are the one in control.
However, it is important to talk frankly with your legal team first before making any decisions. A qualified injury attorney has the knowledge to know when to hold out for more or when to close the case.
It also depends on how well your case will hold up in court, should you go to trial. Going to trial can be a lengthy and difficult process, with no guarantees of any payout at the end. If you’re filing a more serious suit (such as wrongful death or malicious intent), then your legal adviser might decide a trial is a good option.
It’s also important not to settle prematurely. If you’ve yet to heal from accident-related injuries, you can still claim for current and future medical expenses. These expenses include things like physical therapy, medical bills, and any future anticipated expenses related to your injury.
If you’ve yet to get a second opinion or start fully on your healing process, it’s best to wait before you settle a claim.
Most claims settle, however, as it’s simply an easier and quicker process with a greater likelihood of achieving your goal. There are many risks involved in going to trial. Remember, the insurance adjusters and insurance company want this done just as quickly as you do.
How Do I Accept An Insurance Settlement?
Once you and your attorney have settled on an amount satisfactory to both parties, you must sign a release form from the insurance adjuster. This process releases them from any further responsibility to you or your case and settles on the amount specified.
While you must sign a form to receive your payment, you don’t necessarily have to sign their form. It’s a good idea to double-check with your legal team before signing since after the release is completed, the insurance company is free and clear.
How Do You Negotiate A Settlement With An Insurance Claims Adjuster?
If you don’t have a personal injury lawyer, it’s unlikely insurance companies will accept any other kind of release letter, so be sure to have someone you trust at your side in this process. Insurance companies have a lot of information at their disposal about the fair value of a person’s claim.
An unrepresented person would be at a disadvantage dealing with an insurance company. Many websites claim to provide settlement information. Most of these sites simply multiply a person’s medical bills and present that as an estimate. We are excited for the website Legal Verdicts as they are building an evidence based evaluation system to allow accident victims to fight against insurance companies for just compensation.
Even armed with information, a claimant is at a disadvantage if they are dealing with the insurance company. For this reason we always urge accident victims to seek an attorney consult to ensure they are protected. Even once you’ve settled on the amount, they can help you negotiate the exact terms of release (length of time, payments, special funds, etc.).
Still, once you’ve decided to settle, there is no end to the tricks insurance companies will try to pull to pay as little as possible. Special fund allocations for medical bills, exclusion clauses, and many other provisions can be written in complicated legalese purposely made impossible for a layperson to understand.
Seeking Assistance From A Personal Injury Attorney
The attorneys at the Saavedra law firm know how intimidating this process can be without a lawyer at your back. That’s why we’ve taken steps to make our services as accessible as possible.
Our consultations are free, with no obligation to use our services. If you do hire us, however, there are absolutely no fees unless you win. We want to be your advocate, we know we have the knowledge and skills to get there. We speak Spanish as well, to serve our entire community.
Don’t try to deal with insurance companies on your own after you are injured in a car accident or suffer other injuries. Call for a personal injury consultation today at 602-753-8917.
14001 N 7th St, Suite B-104
Phoenix, AZ 85022