Recovering from a vehicle accident isn’t easy if you sustained injuries, that’s why you want to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve from the party at-fault. You would typically have to negotiate with that party’s insurance company for a good settlement. These five tips are best practices to help you settle at a satisfying amount.
Start Right At The Scene
Be calm, cautious, and proactive at the scene of the accident. Take the name, contact details, and insurance information of the person at-fault. Talk to witnesses and note their names and contact details as well. Take as much documentation as you can: photos of your damaged car, license plates, injuries, skid marks, and the like. Once police officers arrive, cooperate with them and also ask for a police report to be filed. All these can help support your injury claim later on.
Also remember to watch what you say after the accident. Avoid saying anything you don’t mean and avoid making self-assessments – even a simple “I’m fine” could be used to downplay your injuries and reduce your settlement.
Know What Your Case Is Worth
It is vital to get yourself checked by a medical professional even if your injuries look minor. A doctor can assess the true extent of your injuries, including those that may not immediately be seen. Based on this professional assessment, you’ll have an idea of how much you should be paid for the injuries. Also consider other damages such as lost wages and emotional suffering.
Understanding all these, decide on a range of what your claim is worth. This way, you can specify a solid amount in your settlement demand letter. You also won’t have to panic when an insurance adjuster makes a take-it-or-leave-it offer – you have a minimum amount in mind and you have good reasons to demand this amount.
Respond Patiently And Methodically
Usually, insurance adjusters make very low first offers, and sometimes, they even deny liability and having to pay altogether. Don’t jump at the first amount they offer. Instead, respond in two steps.
First, get the adjuster to justify the offer. Note down his/her justifications, then write a letter responding to each of these justifications. On your next conversation, begin by asking the adjuster about your response. If the offer doesn’t budge, move on to step two: making a counteroffer that shows you are willing to bargain. You can lower your initial demand slightly, but keep in mind the range of your claim’s worth.
Emphasize Strong, Emotional Points
During negotiations, highlight certain details in your case that clearly show you were wronged. Refer to photos of your wrecked car or records of your serious injury. Point out the other driver’s fault and the details that emphasize this, such as beer bottle in his car or tire marks indicating reckless driving.
Further, explain how the accident emotionally affected your life – you may now be unable to care for your small child or you may have had to give up important long-term plans.
Consult With A Good Lawyer
Don’t hesitate to engage a personal injury attorney. With a lawyer’s in-depth knowledge and experience on how insurance settlements work, you have a huge advantage on your side. You won’t even have to worry about fees, as most attorneys only charge a percentage of what you receive as compensation.