Negotiating a Personal Injury Case With an Insurance Company
What Does a Negotiation with an Insurance Company Look Like?
Even if you have filed a personal injury lawsuit, settlement negotiations will be ongoing, and it is possible that your case reaches an out-of-court resolution at any time. If you or your lawyer have given the insurance company an organized demand letter and supporting documents, the negotiation process may be nothing more than some phone calls with an insurance claims adjuster.
Every negotiation typically consists of you (or your lawyer) and the insurance adjuster making points about the strengths and weaknesses of your claim, the adjuster making an offer to settle your claim for an amount lower than what was requested in the demand letter, and then you countering with a higher amount than the offer, but still lower than your original figure.
Keys for Negotiating with an Insurance Company
Have a Settlement Amount in Mind: Part of putting together a demand letter is determining what you believe your claim is worth. Before speaking to an adjuster about your demand, decide on a minimum settlement amount that you are willing to accept—this is not something that you reveal to the adjuster, but is for your own information. That being said, you do not have to be tied down to the figure you set for yourself. You can revise your figure upwards if the adjuster offers an amount near your minimum to start, or you can lower your figure if the adjuster points out facts that obviously make your claim weaker.
Do Not Jump at the First Offer: When the first offer is made by an insurance adjuster, sometimes it can be so low that it is merely a tactic to find out whether or not you know what you are doing. Other times, it may be a relatively reasonable offer, just lower than what you want. If this is the case, you can immediately make a counteroffer that is slightly lower than your demand letter amount to show that you are also being reasonable.
Get the Adjuster to Justify a Low Offer: If the first offer that an adjuster makes is so low that it is clearly a negotiation strategy to gauge if you know what your claim is really worth, do not immediately lower the amount that you asked for in your demand letter. Instead, ask the adjuster to give you specific reasons as to why the offer is so low, and take notes of what they tell you. Then, write a short letter responding to each of the points the adjuster mentioned.
You can lower your demand slightly if the adjuster’s reasoning is valid, but before lowering it too much, wait to see if the adjuster budges after your reply. The next time you speak with the adjuster, begin by asking for a response to your reply letter. The adjuster should make you a more reasonable offer which you can bargain and arrive at a fair settlement.
Emphasize Emotional Points: In these types of negotiations, try to avoid going over all of the facts again—just emphasize the strongest points in your favor. It can be helpful to mention any emotional points supporting your claim, such as severe injuries or any emotional pain suffered as as a direct result of the injury. There is no way to put a dollar value on emotional distress and “pain and suffering,” but these factors of an injured person’s losses can go a long way in a negotiation with an insurance company.
Put the Settlement in Writing: Once an agreement has been reached between you and the insurance adjuster, immediately confirm the terms in a letter to the adjuster. This letter can be very brief, just stating the amount for which you settled, what injuries/damages the settlement covers, and the date by which you expect to receive settlement documents from the insurance company.
How We Can Help
Negotiating with an insurance adjuster on your own can be a hassle, but the help of a lawyer can make the process much less painful. The Pickett Law Group, PLLC is an experienced law firm with two generations of former prosecutors, who have fought from both sides of the courtroom on all types of legal issues, including those personal injuries. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and fight for the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today and we will begin fighting on your behalf.