Out of the thousands of personal injury claims filed each year, some 95% are settled out of court. This is because, in most instances, neither side in the case has the stomach or the unlimited bank account to deal with a protracted trial. Therefore, settlement is the ideal option. But like many things, settling a case is an art form unto itself. And the goal for any plaintiff should be to secure the most advantageous settlement possible. To do this, quality representation will be required. Those looking for a NY injury attorney can find a list here. Also, a crucial part of the process is dealing with the insurance company. There is always an initial call with an insurance adjuster where both parties discuss the claim. Usually, after a few phone calls, a settlement is reached. Here are some additional tips plaintiffs should keep in mind when dealing with insurance companies.
Decide on a Figure Beforehand
Going into any negotiation unprepared is ill advised—especially when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. Claimants should always have a settlement figure in mind before negotiations even begin. The claimant’s attorney can help decide on this figure, and it should be represented in the demand letter. Also, the claimant should have a minimum settlement figure that he or she will accept. They should never reveal this settlement figure to the insurance adjuster, instead keeping it in mind as a baseline during negotiations.
Don’t Accept the First Offer
In most cases, the initial settlement figure offered by the adjuster will be low, either as a gambit to test the claimant’s negotiating ability, or simply out of a desire to save money. All unreasonable offers should be rejected out of hand. Conversely, claimant’s can and should make an immediate counteroffer when presented with a reasonable offer. Making this counteroffer slightly less than the figure represented in the demand letter is a good move, as it shows a willingness to compromise on behalf of the claimant.
If an adjuster makes a low ball offer than it is crucial to get him or her to explain the reasoning behind it. Have them put their reasoning in writing and describe in detail how they came to that figure. Then the claimant can answer with his or her own facts and all points they have in their favor. Any emotional points supporting the claim are welcome, too.
Get it in Writing
Once a settlement figure has been agreed upon, it is time to put it down on paper. Confirm this agreement in a letter to the insurance adjuster and contain all relevant details, such as the settlement amount and any damages or injuries covered in that figure. Include the date by which the claimant expects to receive all settlement documents from the adjuster as well.
These are just a few tactics to keep in mind when negotiating with an insurance company. Of course, seasoned attorneys are adept at navigating this process, and they can be hired on contingency, meaning they won’t earn money unless a settlement is reached.