After you have been in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another person, you have the right to seek compensation from the insurance company of that person. The compensation is to cover the expenses caused by the accident, such as medical bills, repair or replacement costs for damaged property, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. In order to secure that compensation, it is best if you get a personal injury attorney to help you.
Under normal circumstances, it is you or your attorney who approaches the insurance company with a settlement offer, but sometimes the insurance company will approach you first with their own settlement offer. They will have their own reasons for doing this, which is why legal experts like personal injury lawyers Fasig and Brooks recommend that you do not speak to any representatives from the insurance company by yourself. You should always consult with your attorney before speaking with the insurance company; in fact, it is often better to have your attorney speak with them for you.
The Injury Claim Process
You and your attorney will start this process by gathering the evidence that proves the defendant was at fault for the accident. This can include the police report, witness statements, surveillance footage, and so on. You should also calculate the expenses caused by the accident, which includes medical bills, damaged property, lost wages, out of pocket expenses, and more. You and your attorney will then send a demand letter to the insurance company that requests a compensation settlement.
What happens next is that you, your attorney, and the insurance company will start negotiating by making offers and counter-offers. The insurance company will likely offer a lower settlement than what you need and then the offer will go back and forth between the two parties until an agreement is reached that both parties find satisfying. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, then you may have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to get the compensation that you need.
If The Insurance Company Makes an Offer
During negotiations, or even before they begin, the insurance company may approach you with an offer to settle your claim. After you submit your claim, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to go over your claim to assess its strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of what they find, they may contact you directly with an offer to settle your claim; this offer is always going to be lower than what you need, but it is likely just a negotiating tactic. They will make the offer to find out if you know what your claim is worth, or it could be a reasonable offer, but one that is too low for your needs.
No matter the reason for the low offer, you should not immediately take it and you should ask the insurance company to justify their offer. You or your attorney should make notes on each of their points and then make counterpoints to the reasons for their justification. You then send them a reply letter with your response to their reasons. You should keep in mind that it is possible that they might make some good points that cause you to lower your settlement request, but you should wait to see what their reply is before lowering your request by too much.
You and the insurance company will probably bargain for a little longer, but there is a good chance that you will reach a settlement because that is how most personal injury cases end. But the important thing to remember is to never accept the insurance company’s first offer to settle your claim without first consulting with your personal injury lawyer.