Did you know that 3 million people are injured in a car accident every year in the United States? If you were in a car accident, whether your injuries were minor or severe, you might be owed compensation.
If you can prove that you weren’t at fault for a collision, you can come to an agreement with your insurance company for a settlement.
However, it’s a common practice for insurance adjusters to offer low amounts. To get what your claim is worth, use these car accident settlement tips.
Think of a Specific Settlement Amount
When you put together a car accident settlement demand letter, you should have a range in mind. This is what you believe your claim is worth, which you can find out with a car accident settlement calculator or lawyer.
You shouldn’t reveal this amount to your insurance adjuster. Instead, use your range as a bottom line to stick to when the offers and counter-offers roll in.
If the adjuster points out facts you didn’t consider in your settlement amount that makes your claim weaker or stronger, you can adjust your minimum figure to match that.
Don’t Take the First Offer
Typical car accident settlement amounts are low at the beginning of negotiations. With the low first offer tactic, the adjuster is trying to figure out if you realize what your claim is actually worth.
Your response to the first offer should depend on how low it is. It might be so low that you know it’s just a tactic. If the offer is low but reasonable, you can make a counteroffer.
Make a counteroffer that is a little lower than your demand letter amount to show the adjuster that you are reasonable and willing to compromise.
Bargaining further will get you to a final settlement amount that is fair to both sides. During the negotiation, emphasize the strongest points in your favor without going over all of the facts again.
Ask an Adjuster to Justify Their Offer
If the adjuster makes an offer lower than the average car accident settlement, don’t immediately negotiate a new amount.
Instead, ask the adjuster to provide you with specifics on why the offer is so low. Make notes of their answers so that you can respond to each of the factors they mentioned.
Depending on how strong the adjuster’s reasons are, you can lower your demand slightly or see if the adjuster will budge before going lower than your first demand letter states.
Once you talk to the adjuster again, ask them about the letter. They should then make you a reasonable offer that will help you lead to a fair final settlement figure.
Emphasize Emotional Points
During the negotiation process, mention emotional points that support your claim and can increase car accident settlement payouts.
For example, if you have evidence of a severe injury or a strong photo showing your smashed vehicle, refer to it. Refer to alcohol use or texting and driving from the at-fault driver if there is evidence of it.
Another point you can make is if similar accidents have occurred at the same location. If your injury interfered with your ability to do everyday tasks like work or take care of your child, mention that as well.
There’s no way to put a dollar amount on these factors but they can help if an insurance company is trying to lowball you during the settlement process.
Wait for a Response
Even if an insurance adjuster takes a while to respond to your counteroffer, it’s important to wait for a response before changing your offer again. Don’t reduce your demand twice without an intervening offer from the adjuster.
If the adjuster comes up with new reasons to offer a low amount, go over each one again. After dealing with all of the adjuster’s arguments, you should get a reasonable offer.
Sometimes, a reasonable offer isn’t coming. You can work with a lawyer who can put pressure on the insurance company with better negotiation tactics. Find out more about how a lawyer can help in this situation.
Know When to Hire a Lawyer
If you are looking for minor car accident settlement amounts, you likely don’t need a lawyer to get the number you want from an insurance adjuster.
At some point, you might feel that negotiations aren’t going as you wish. There are three major situations in which you should consider hiring a lawyer.
First, if you are demanding compensation for serious pain and injuries, a lawyer can help you get more than a few thousand dollars.
Insurance adjusters don’t take claims seriously when damages add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more. They have to take you seriously when you are represented by a lawyer.
You should also hire legal help if you are seeking damages in the future. This could be due to lost future income or the costs of medical treatments you might need down the line.
Lastly, you should hire an attorney when there is a question of fault. A lawyer will craft an argument to your advantage.
Put the Settlement in Writing
Once you and the insurance adjuster agree on a number, confirm the settlement in writing. You can send a letter to the adjuster to ensure you get what you were promised.
This is the only way to confirm that your settlement amount won’t later be denied or changed. Before you send the brief letter off, make sure you make a copy for your own files.
The letter can be short and sweet to restate what was said and promised.
Get the Most Out of a Car Accident Settlement
Getting the most out of a car accident settlement is difficult because it’s a common practice for insurance adjusters to lowball you. Avoid the first offer and take the time to negotiate for what your claim is worth.
Ask adjusters to justify their offers so you can counter their points. Emphasize any emotional elements and wait for a response before making a different offer.
Know when to hire a lawyer for help and get the official settlement amount in writing so nothing is changed or forgotten later on.
For more articles like this, check out the posts on our blog.