When you have been injured in an accident as a result of negligence by another person, you may be wondering what options you have to getting compensation. According to Louisiana tort law, accident victims have a right to claim fair damages. Generally, you can solve the issue with the party concerned in or out of court. Regardless of the route you take, it would be in your best interests to get competent Lafayette personal injury lawyers to help you negotiate a settlement.
To receive compensation from an insurance company, you have to file a claim. The claim's process starts with submitting a demand letter and later negotiating the settlement. To quicken the process, you should submit proper supporting documents with the demand letter.
When the insurance company receives your demand letter, it will start an investigation to determine the validity of your claim. After the investigation, the negotiations will kick off.
How Does Personal Injury Settlement Negotiation Work?
The negotiation usually involves a series of calls between the insurance adjuster and you. During the initial call, the adjuster will outline the weaknesses of your claim. On the same note, you should highlight the strengths of the claim.
The adjuster will then make an offer, usually a lower amount than you had requested in the demand letter. You can counter the offer with a higher one but lower than your initial figure. The negotiations can go on for weeks or months before a final settlement is agreed upon.
Now that you know how the negotiation process works, what can you do to ensure you end up with a fair settlement?
Negotiating with an Insurance Company
You are more likely to get a reasonable settlement for your injuries if you hire an attorney to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. However, it still makes sense to know how to handle the claims process by yourself.
Here are some things you should know to have a good chance of winning a reasonable settlement when negotiating with the insurance company.
Have a settlement figure in mind
When you are putting together your demand letter, you should have an idea of how much your claim are worth. Generally, claims are paid based on the monetary losses you incurred as a result of the injuries.
Here are some common factors that usually affect the settlement figure in Louisiana personal injury cases:
- The severity of your injuries
- The degree of fault you had in the injury
- Cost of medical treatment
- Loss of income
- Broken bones or disability
Sum up the total losses you incurred to get an idea of the amount of settlement to demand from the insurance company. After this, decide on the minimum damages that you'd be willing to accept. This amount should not be revealed to the adjuster. Instead, keep it in mind during the negotiations.
Depending on how the negotiations are progressing with the adjuster, you can go lower the figure you might have set for yourself. For example, the adjuster may raise some facts that you had not previously considered when coming up with the damages, which could make your case weak. In such a case, it would make sense to go lower the initial figure you'd been willing to accept.
On the other hand, if the adjuster starts the negotiations with an offer that is near your minimum, this means you can win more. Therefore, revise the figure upwards.
Do not accept the first offer
Insurance adjusters know that most personal injury victims do not know how much settlement they are entitled to in a court of law. Moreover, when they realize you don't have an attorney helping you with the case, they'll try to take advantage of you.
For example, the adjuster can make an initial low-ball offer just to see how keen you are with settling or whether you really know what you are doing. Do not be quick to accept the offer, even if it is reasonable. Instead, counter it with a slightly higher offer.
You should only settle for an offer after a little more back and forth bargaining with the adjuster and if it is reasonable for the losses you incurred.
Request justification for a lower offer
Sometimes, the adjuster can make a very low-ball offer just to see whether you know how much you are rightly entitled to. This is the time to show the professional that you know what you are doing. When the offer is proposed, ask the adjuster why it is so low.
Make notes of each of the points that the adjuster raises for proposing the low settlement. After that, write a brief letter addressing each of the points that the adjuster raised.
If the adjuster raised some valid points, consider lowering the amount you are demanding just a little bit. However, do not lower the amount so much. Instead, wait to see how the adjuster will respond on receiving your reply.
On your next communication with the adjuster, ask him to reply to your letter. If you tackled the points that the adjuster had previously raised well, you can expect a reasonable offer, from where you can start bargaining.
Emphasize emotional points
The negotiations process gives you a chance to emphasize the points that favor you the most. For example, you can point out that your painful injuries were as a direct result of the insured party, your medical costs were high, and that you suffered serious deformities or disabilities.
It is also good to bring out emotional points that can support your claim. For example, if you have photos of the accident scene, you can refer to them to stir up emotions and improve your chances of getting a reasonable settlement from the adjuster.
While monetary value cannot be assigned to emotional injuries, alluding to the injuries can move the insurance adjuster to propose a fair settlement.
Put the compensation figure in writing
After back and forth negotiations, you may eventually reach an agreement with the insurance adjuster. When the agreement is reached, get it in writing as soon as possible. Write a letter to the adjuster stating the settlement that has been agreed and what damages or injuries it covers. Also, indicate the date by which you expect to receive the settlement document from the insurance company.
Successfully negotiating personal injury settlements requires both skills and tact. You have to appeal to the emotions of the insurance adjuster while also presenting facts that favor your cause.
Insurance adjusters negotiate settlements with different victims regularly. These professionals are experienced and can easily corner you to accepting a low settlement. To avoid being taken advantage of, consider hiring a personal injury attorney from a reputable firm.