When you make a personal injury claim, there’s no set time frame for negotiations and settlement offers. You need to consult your attorney, weigh in all the factors and make a decision regarding accepting or rejecting the settlement offer. In most cases, the initial offer is low, since the insurance company will be testing the waters. Some plaintiffs, desperate to settle their case, accept much lower costs without realizing that future medical bills and suffering may be still to come. Insurance adjusters know this, and count on some plaintiffs being willing to settle immediately.
This is why you need to notify and hire an attorney in a timely manner. This doesn’t mean you should hire the first attorney who sends you a letter in the mail; rather, take the time to do some research, read online reviews, and speak with attorneys before making a decision.
In a typical personal injury case, the victim will demand a settlement in writing after taking into account medical expenses, lost income, pain, and suffering and so on. The insurance company may respond to this formal demand letter with a counter settlement offer, which is usually much lower than the demand. How the victim responds to this initial settlement offer will largely influence the eventual outcome.
Maintain Equilibrium – Maintain Your Emotions
If you are representing yourself and have received a very low settlement offer, you may initially feel anger and frustration toward the insurance adjuster. This is not the time for a hastily written, angry response! Take some time to calm down; don’t make any contact with the company if you’re angry. This simply won’t help your case. Keep in mind that the initial offer is merely a starting point and the negotiation process has only just begun. Politely decline the initial offer, listing the reasons why this offer is not acceptable. You may refer back to your medical bills and treatment costs.
Before drafting this formal response, you could ask the adjuster several questions to find out why the offer is so low. The adjuster may not reply promptly, and you might have to wait patiently until the adjuster responds. The answers given by the adjuster will provide the points you need to cover in drafting your response. Make sure you respond formally in writing, countering each of the points made by the adjuster clearly.
It’s important to note: If you hire a personal injury attorney, he or she will handle all of the negotiations for you. The settlement offers come directly to your attorney, who then contacts you. You can tell the attorney how you want to proceed, and he or she will either accept the offer or reject it and counteroffer on your behalf. Unless you have a legal background in negotiation, hiring a professional lawyer to represent you can significantly increase your settlement amount.