How to negotiate the best possible settlement with an insurance adjuster after a serious car accident
So, it finally happened. Experts say you’ll file a car collision claim about once every 17.9 years or so. Perhaps you’re lucky and it is your first crash, or maybe this has happened before and you can’t believe you have to go through it again.
Accidents happen to almost everyone. When it happens to you, you’ll inevitably be forced to communicate with auto insurance companies — possibly both your own and the other driver’s insurer.
It’s during this important period when the amount of compensation you’ll be granted from the insurance company to pay for the accident damages is decided.
To ensure you receive the maximum insurance settlement possible in a serious car accident case, we recommend following these steps:
Step 1: Report the Accident
First and foremost, you are required to notify your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Your insurer likely has a policy in place that says you must report the incident promptly in order to qualify for compensation.
While it’s important to follow these rules, you also want to be careful about what you say to any claims adjustor when on the phone (including your own). Be sure not to admit fault or imply that you think you were responsible for the accident. Be polite and honest; stick to the facts. And don’t agree to a recorded statement because anything you say can be used against you in the case.
If you feel uncomfortable talking to an insurance representative yourself, move onto step 2 before speaking to the adjustor about your version of events.
Step 2: Get Legal Advice
If you’ve been involved in a serious collision, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a Clearwater auto accident attorney. A legal professional can skillfully negotiate the settlement for you and guide you through the entire process.
For instance, it’s important that the insurance adjuster has all the medical records and medical bills prior to beginning negotiations. This sort of research is best left to an attorney. If the adjuster wants to negotiate the settlement prior to you receiving treatment, that’s the first red flag indicating that the insurance company isn’t interested in offering the full value of your claim.
Step 3: Start Negotiating
You or your lawyer will need to provide all of your expenses and information to the adjuster to help the insurance company determine the full value of your case. Almost always, the first settlement offer isn’t a fair one, which is why we typically advise our clients to say “no” to the initial offer. Many times, it’s only after the attorney argues on your behalf and shows the insurance company how this accident has really affected your life that the insurance company agrees to an appropriate number that’s reasonable to settle your case.
Both sides will usually go back and forth for an extended period of time, producing more documents, witness statements or more information that the insurance company wants before they agree to settle the case for what it’s worth. This negotiation process is usually lengthy and drawn-out before the claimant actually gets to the fair number that they are willing to settle for.
Step 4: Estimate Damages
The best way to start estimating your total car accident damages is to look at your medical bills and lost wages, then add them all together. Calculating the pain, suffering and emotional distress that you suffered as a result of the accident is more tricky — it’s more of an art than a science.
Your attorney can use your medical bills and lost wages to try to get the right number for your pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of future capacity to earn, or emotional distress and pain. However, it’s hard to estimate these numbers without knowing your specific case, which is why you’ll need to consult an attorney as soon as possible.
Step 5: Submit a Demand Letter
When preparing a demand payment letter to a car insurance company, you or your attorney will need to include all your medical records and medical bills, as well as witness statements from people who knew you before and after the accident, anybody who saw you during treatment, and anyone who sees the pain and suffering you’re going through on a daily basis.
These witness statements, along with medical records, medical bills, and any statements from doctors, are essential components to the demand letter you or your attorney will send to the insurance company. Your attorney will also want to include all of that information with the police report and facts regarding the case such as whether the other driver was cited and ticketed for the accident or considered at fault.
Step 6: Review Counteroffers
Lastly, upon receipt of your demand payment letter, the insurance company may decide to offer a counteroffer.
When considering a counteroffer, you should consider all your medical records, medical bills, everything you can no longer do, and any additional treatment you may need in the future. It’s also important to consider all the treatment and expenses that are incurred as a result of the accident before accepting an insurance company’s counteroffer. These factors will help to determine if the offer is sufficient for your needs and to pay the bills.
If the counteroffer is still too low, you or your attorney may return to the negotiating table or, in rare cases, pursue a lawsuit in court.
If the counteroffer is acceptable, the details of the agreement will be finalized and the insurance company will send you a release of liability letter along with a check.
Hire our Florida car accident attorney to negotiate the best possible settlement
Negotiating car insurance settlements after a collision requires patience and persistence. It can often take several months for a settlement agreement to be reached, or years if the case continues to trial. During this time, your bills may be piling up, your ability to work may be affected, and you may be waiting on repairs to your vehicle.
Having a skilled negotiator by your side during this difficult time can make all the difference. The insurance company has a team of skilled lawyers representing their side, and so should you. At the Law Offices of Tragos, Sartes & Tragos, we will fight tooth and nail to secure a winning outcome for you and your family.
We can make this guarantee because we’ve been able to secure positive outcomes for past clients with similar cases:
- $400,000 settlement for a client who was rear-ended and sustained a disc herniation requiring spinal surgery.
- $300,000 settlement for a client who suffered a broken bone in her wrist as a result of a motor vehicle accident.
- $110,000 policy limit settlement for a client who suffered soft-tissue injuries in a car accident
Not all cases have such high recoveries as the ones mentioned above. You shouldn’t assume that your case will get the same results. Instead, reach out to one of our accident lawyers to see how much your case is worth. Don’t delay — time may be running out to negotiate.
Schedule a free case evaluation with our auto accident attorneys to learn how we can help you secure the maximum car insurance settlement.