Insurance companies will often pressure you to settle quickly. Do not settle immediately. It is never in your best interest to settle quickly. Insurance providers will try to settle fast with you in an attempt to keep their cost low and profits high.
A qualified car accident lawyer is the best front line defense and tool when negotiating with insurance companies. Without someone on your side, helping to guide you through the process, insurers will likely attempt to take advantage of your limited experience. We strongly suggest that you speak to a car accident attorney if you feel that your insurance company is not offering fair compensation. Most car accident lawyers, like us, offer free auto accident case reviews.
When you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident, the days afterward can be difficult. If anyone was critically injured, the complications can be infinitely more severe. It’s imperative that you understand the basics of how to negotiate your auto accident settlement with the insurance company.
A car accident settlement will take into account all of your injuries, the pain and suffering you endured, and other losses like damage to your car and unearned wages. Car accident settlement’s compound all of these points and more, creating a complicated situation.
Many insurance providers specifically shape the settlement process a daunting challenge. It’s possible to reach a fair settlement while preparing your argument yourself, but it’s infinitely harder. This is where a motivated, experienced car accident lawyer can make all the difference.
Important to Remember!
If you have received an offer settlement from an insurance company, we highly recommend you NOT to take the initial offer. Speaking with an experienced car accident and personal injury lawyer is in your best interest. A lawyer has the experience and training necessary to determine if you are receiving a fair deal. Always consult with legal counsel when talking to the insurance companies. If you are are currently going through a similar situation, contact the experienced car accident and personal injury lawyers at Sutliff & Stout. Our team of legal experts are prepared to get you the justice and fair compensation that you deserve. We ask nothing upfront and offer FREE consultations to look over your case. We take no fee unless you win. To speak with one of our experts, contact us today at 713-987-7111.
The following tips below will set you on the right path towards negotiating a fair auto insurance settlement with the insurance company after a car accident.
1. Initiate a Claim as Soon as Possible after an Auto Accident
Following a car accident, your first move should be to contact your insurance company immediately. It is important to open a claim as soon as possible after a car accident. Communicating all details about your accident accurately is priority number one when talking with your insurance provider. Remember, the sooner you contact, the more accurate your recollection regarding the accident will be.
If you’re not able to immediately fill out a claim with your insurance provider, try to write everything down. It’s critical to note everything you remember about the accident.
For more information on when to contact your insurance company after a car accident and what you should say, read our guide to contacting your insurance company after a car accident.
2. Keep Accurate Records about the Accident
In conjunction with step one, you should keep a file of records about your car accident that is organized chronologically. This file should include a police accident report if one exists, records of doctors’ visits, bills for car repairs, photographs of the claimed damages, and anything else relevant to your accident.
Keeping physical and digital records of everything listed above is also heavily recommended. You will rely on these documents often during negotiations, and having them readily available can help expedite the settlement process.
3. Calculate a Fair Settlement
Before you send a demand letter to your insurance company, you must determine what you believe your claim is worth. When arriving at a figure, you should take into account all of the following:
- The cost of your medical care and related expenses,
- The amount of income you lost as a result of your injuries if you were unable to work,
- Whether you are permanently disabled or will require long-term medical care,
- Any pain and suffering you endured after the accident, and
- The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle and any other property that was damaged in the accident.
Based on this information, decide on a minimum settlement figure that you will accept. If you cannot determine a fair insurance settlement, a top Board-Certified Houston car accident lawyer may be able to help.
4. Send a Detailed Demand Letter to the Insurance Company
Once you calculate what you think your claim is worth, send a demand letter to the insurance company. Describe the car accident, your injuries, the medical treatment you received, any ongoing health issues you have, how badly your vehicle was damaged, and any other losses you incurred as a result of the car accident. Then, tell the insurance company how much money you demand as a result of the circumstances. Because the insurance company will likely reply with an offer for an amount lower than what you’ve asked for in the demand letter, you should ask for between 25 and 100 percent more than what you would be willing to settle for.
This is where having an experienced legal expert in your corner can help during this critical step. A professionally experienced personal injury lawyer can help you draft a proper request and advise you going forward. Finding a legal expert or lawyer specifically experienced with car accidents can be extremely beneficial during this process.
It is important to remember that you must have evidence and documentation to back up everything in your demand letter. A lack of evidence can prevent you from getting the offer you deserve.
5. Do Not Accept the First Offer
There is one thing you must understand: The priority of the insurance company rep is to maximize profit, and they will therefore try to pay you as little as possible for your claim.
When the insurance adjuster makes an initial offer, it will almost assuredly be too low. A first offer that is unreasonably low might be a tactic by the insurance company to see if you know what your claim is really worth. This is when having a car accident lawyer or an experienced legal expert can come in handy.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can sit down with you to review the offer, helping you to understand your next step. Odds are, the offer will be low as previously mentioned. A lawyer can communicate on your behalf, helping to negotiate a better settlement. It also sends a message to the insurance provider that you’re taking this situation seriously.
After the initial offer is received and reviewed with your legal counsel, ask the insurance adjuster to justify his or her low offer and give you specific reasons why your claim is so low. Respond to each of the points he or she makes in a reply letter explaining why you cannot accept the offer. Do not propose a lower figure – wait to see if the insurance company will increase its offer.
If the first offer is reasonable but still too low, you may want to counter with a somewhat lower amount than you asked for in your demand letter. If you make a reasonable counteroffer, the insurance company will be more willing to compromise.
6. Emphasize the Points in Your Favor
Before this can be, you will need to formulate a proper communication strategy with your legal expert. Your argument will need to be weighted in truth, so having evidence to support your points can be key if the insurance provider decides to be difficult.
When communicating with the insurance company, emphasize the strongest points in your favor. Do not waste time going over undisputed facts; focus on what’s most important to you. If you suffered an injury that will require lifelong medical care, discuss how this will affect your quality of life and finances over time. If you missed a significant amount of work, reiterate the total amount of wages you lost and how missing work impacted your family. Make it clear to the insurance company that you must be compensated fairly for your injuries and other losses.
7. Get Everything in Writing
You or your accident attorney should take detailed notes about all of your conversations with the insurance company. Ask that all settlement offers be presented in writing. If anything is discussed over the phone or in person, make sure a copy of the transcript is received by you and your legal counsel. If a transcript is not available, it’s OK to ask for everything discussed during a meeting to be re-addressed in an email.
If you reach an agreement, make sure that it is memorialized in a dated written contract that is signed by all parties to the agreement.
8. Know When to Hire an Attorney
If you fail to arrive at a fair settlement agreement after negotiating with an insurance company, you may need to hire a car accident lawyer. An experienced accident attorney can help you evaluate your situation and determine whether a personal injury lawsuit is necessary.
Talk to an attorney about your car accident insurance claim
Sutliff & Stout are experienced car accident attorneys who represent hurt clients who have been involved in car, motorcycle, and truck accidents in Houston and the surrounding areas. For a free and confidential consultation about your case, contact us at (713) 987-7111.
Frequently Asked Questions About Negotiating a Car Accident Settlement
Why should I settle my claim? Shouldn’t I file a personal injury lawsuit?
Most personal injury claims settle out of court because it’s faster, less expensive, and not as risky. Trials are stressful, and it can take months for a jury to reach a verdict. After reviewing your case and settlement offers, your attorney will guide whether you should accept the offer or take the case to court.
How does the insurance decide to offer a settlement?
Claims adjusters will divide damages into two categories: physical damages, such as medical bills and property damage, and emotional damage, such as pain and suffering. The first offer may be a percentage of what they think is the final value. Insurers do this to pay out as little as possible.
Can I reject a settlement offer?
Yes. However, we highly recommend that you consult with an experienced lawyer before choosing to do this. Having competent legal counsel at your back, guiding you through the negotiation process is highly valuable.
How is my lawyer paid?
Most personal injury attorneys are paid on a contingency basis. If your claim is successful, they will take a percentage of the final settlement. The rate varies depending on the case type and attorney. If they do not win your case, you might not have to pay for their services. Regardless, you will have to pay court filing fees, witness deposition fees, and other additional court fees and charges.