When you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. However, not all personal injury cases go to trial; in fact, most are resolved through settlement negotiations.
This article provides an informational guide on what to expect during a personal injury settlement negotiation.
Understanding the Process
A personal injury settlement negotiation typically begins once you, the plaintiff, have reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). This means that your condition has stabilized to the point where a physician can accurately assess future medical needs and costs.
Once MMI is reached and damages are calculated, a demand letter outlining your case and the compensation you seek is sent to the defendant’s insurance company.
The insurance adjuster will review your demand, after which the negotiation process begins. The adjuster may reject your demand, accept it, or more commonly, counter with a lower offer.
This begins a back-and-forth settlement negotiation process to reach a mutually agreed-upon settlement.
What to Expect
- Initial Offer: After reviewing your demand letter and supporting documents, the insurance adjuster will likely respond with an initial offer. This is typically lower than what you asked for, as the adjuster’s goal is to settle the claim for as little as possible. Don’t be discouraged by a low initial offer; it’s simply a starting point for negotiations.
- Counteroffers: After receiving the initial offer, you or your attorney will make a counteroffer. This typically involves lowering your original demand slightly, signaling that you’re willing to negotiate but still value your claim highly. This process may repeat several times as both sides move towards a settlement amount that is acceptable to all.
- Evaluation of Damages: Throughout the negotiation process, the severity of your injuries, the impact on your life, your medical costs, lost wages, and other damages will be continually evaluated and discussed. Be prepared to provide supporting documentation for all claims about your injury and associated costs.
- Negotiation Tactics: Be prepared for various negotiation tactics from the insurance adjuster. They may argue that their policyholder is not at fault, or that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. This is where having strong evidence and a knowledgeable attorney can be crucial.
- Settlement Agreement: If you reach an agreement, the insurance company will require you to sign a settlement agreement. This document confirms that you accept the settlement amount and agree to release the insurer and their policyholder from further liability. Be sure to review this document carefully before signing.
Role of a Personal Injury Attorney
Having a personal injury attorney represent you during a settlement negotiation can be highly beneficial. They bring expertise in personal injury law and experience with negotiation tactics.
They understand the true value of your claim and won’t be pressured into accepting a low offer. An attorney can handle all communication with the insurance company, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
Preparing for Negotiation
Before entering a settlement negotiation, gather and organize all relevant documentation related to your claim. This includes medical records, receipts, wage loss verification, and any other evidence that supports your claim. Be prepared to justify your demand and to discuss the details of your case.
Be patient and prepared for the negotiation process to take time. While some personal injury cases settle quickly, others can take months or even longer, especially if your injuries are severe or if liability is in dispute.
Understanding what to expect during a personal injury settlement negotiation can help you navigate the process with confidence. Remember, each personal injury case is unique, and the negotiation process can vary accordingly.
Having a skilled personal injury attorney at your side can make the process smoother and increase the likelihood of a fair and adequate settlement.
While negotiations can be challenging, being well-prepared and patient can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
If you have an injury due to someone else’s negligence and you want to file a lawsuit, call us today. We can advise you from the start and help you get the compensation you deserve.