You were involved in a car accident in which you broke your left leg and suffered a minor concussion. You decided to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver in order to cover your finances while you took off work to recover from the injury. With or without an attorney by your side, you’ve filed the personal injury claim. Now, it’s time to negotiate the settlement. Here are four key tricks to ensure you’re pleased with the end result.
1. Have an Amount in Mind
You will likely begin the settlement process with a “demand letter.” This document will become the centerpiece of the entire claim since it will detail all the damages you expect to receive. Be cautious when pulling this document together. Determine what your claim is realistically worth (don’t ask for a million when you just need a thousand). Then, determine the lowest number you would be willing to accept. This number does not need to be included in your demand letter—you’ll just want to know your personal minimum.
2. Don’t Accept the First Offer
Likely, the “insurance adjudicator” will start the negotiations at the lowest possible end. Don’t feel pressured to accept this settlement. Take a moment to judge the situation. Is the offer ridiculously low? Or is it more towards the bottom end of your personal settlement range? Even if the offer seems reasonable, you can counteroffer with your own amount.
3. Make the Adjudicator Justify Their Offer
Don’t be afraid to question the adjudicator. If you believe that the amount offered is too low, ask them why they chose to suggest that amount. When they list the specific reasons, take vigorous notes. Then, you can refute each of the claims in order to explain why you deserve a higher amount.
4. Know When You Need an Attorney
Even if you filed the personal injury claim all by yourself, you may still want to consider meeting with an attorney, like a car accident lawyer in Trenton, NJ, before accepting any settlement. This is especially true if you are asking for a large sum of money or distribution over a longer period of time. You should definitely meet with a personal injury attorney if there’s a question of fault surrounding the incident — this will make your case more difficult to win.
Once you arrive at a reasonable amount with your attorney and the adjudicator, make sure they get the final settlement in writing. This can be done by writing a quick letter confirming the amount and when you expect to receive your damages.
Thank you to the experts at Davis & Brusca for their input into personal injury, car accidents, and the law.