You Can Negotiate a Settlement. Here’s How
Most personal injury settlements are negotiated with insurance companies. If you’ve been involved in a car or other accident, you can seek compensation for financial losses and pain and suffering. Negotiating a settlement is difficult, however, and few insurance companies make generous offers without some serious prodding.
At Naqvi, our experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyers have obtained favorable settlements for many of our clients. We know how to negotiate a settlement with an insurance adjuster and share some of our best secrets below.
Hold Onto Everything
Settlement negotiations are based on evidence—evidence about who was at fault as well as evidence about the severity of your injuries. You can help your case by buying a giant folder and storing all relevant documents in it:
- Copy of police report
- Letters and emails exchanged with insurance companies
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Prescription drug receipts
- Car repair estimates or bills
- Photographs of the accident
It is very easy to lose this evidence, and tracking it down is a pain. True, your attorney can obtain information for you, but that takes time. You can come out of the gate running by preserving anything that might be helpful to your case.
Open an Insurance Claim in a Timely Manner
You can do this by contacting the insurance company for the driver who hit you. Sometimes, your own insurer will open a claim for you, so ask them when you report the accident.
If you decide to call, you should provide only basic information, such as the day, time, and location of the accident. Avoid giving a detailed statement about what happened when you call. The basic facts mentioned above are sufficient to start a claim and get the ball rolling.
Also avoid delay. Waiting two or three weeks before reporting an accident is suspicious, and insurance companies might conclude you are exaggerating (or even inventing) your injuries.
Estimate the Value of Your Claim Carefully
You need some idea of how much your injuries are worth before you can begin negotiating a settlement. If you go into negotiation with no firm number in mind, then you might accept a settlement offer that’s far too low. In Nevada, you can receive compensation for:
- All reasonable and necessary medical care to treat your injuries
- All lost income or lost wages
- Repairs to your vehicle and other damaged property
Because you have hung onto your medical bills and receipts, you should be able to easily calculate the amount of money your accident has cost you. Remember to request full compensation. Even if your health insurer paid for most of your medical care, you can request the full amount charged for all procedures.
You can also request future medical care and diminished earning capacity if you suffered permanent or long-lasting injuries. These are harder to calculate. Healthcare costs continue to rise, so the cost of surgery 10 years from now will be much higher. Also, you could make higher wages as you get more experience in the job market.
Lastly, an accident victim can seek compensation for pain and suffering and similar losses, like disfigurement, disability, and inconvenience. These intangible losses are also hard to estimate. Working with an experienced Las Vegas accident lawyer is a big advantage because we have a rough idea of how much to request for pain and suffering. Generally, you can get 1 to 5 times the amount of your financial losses.
Write an Effective Demand Letter
You kick off negotiating personal injury settlements with a demand letter to the insurer. This is your chance to provide your side of the story about what happened and how the accident has affected you. Provide some background about the accident and explain your injuries in more detail. An effective demand letter should be well-written and as brief as possible. Provide facts, like the number of times you’ve met with a doctor, whether you had surgery and similar information.
The demand letter builds to your request for compensation. Pick a number. Don’t just ask for “fair compensation.” State specifically how much it will take for you to settle your claim.
Our tip: ask for a little more than you think your claim is really worth. If you estimate your injuries are worth $100,000, then ask for $130,000-$150,000. This gives you some room to come down as you negotiate.
Reject the Insurer’s First Offer
This first offer is usually too low. Remember, you are negotiating a settlement. This requires some back and forth. Just as you asked for a high amount in your demand letter, the insurer will come back with a low amount. Typically, you can meet somewhere in the middle.
Of course, it’s always possible an insurer meets your demand right off the bat. In that case, you can accept the offer. We just don’t see this happen very often.
Highlight Facts that Benefit You
If you reject the insurer’s offer, you need to give them a reason why. If you don’t, then they’ll think you are just being difficult or lack sophistication. You establish credibility by explaining why the offer was too low.
Remember to emphasize all the facts that work in your favor:
- Fault is clear. Witnesses might all agree the other driver is to blame, or the driver could have admitted as much. If fault isn’t in dispute, the insurer knows they’ll lose if they go to trial.
- Your medical bills are growing. Someone with serious injuries should emphasize that they will need future care.
- Your pain and suffering are intense. Back up your claims by identifying witnesses who can explain how the injuries have made life more difficult. Provide vivid detail, such as the inability to lift your grandchild or go for romantic walks with your spouse.
Remain Calm During Negotiations
Projecting confidence is the key to getting the settlement you want. Don’t become upset or annoyed. If you do, you’ll lose credibility with the other side and could make some mistakes that costs you. Although it might be difficult to think this way, you need to view this as a business transaction. It’s not personal.
Hire a Lawyer to Help
You do not have to negotiate a settlement all on your own. A Las Vegas personal injury lawyer can sweep in and help clients with any of the following:
- Properly valuing a claim, including compensation for future medical expenses, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering
- Collecting evidence to show the severity of your injuries
- Negotiating with an insurance adjuster for maximum compensation
- Identifying other parties that share fault for the accident
- Filing a lawsuit if negotiations stall
At Naqvi, we put decades of combined experience to work for our personal injury clients. Remember, once you agree to a settlement, you’ll be signing a release of liability. This means you can’t ask the defendant to give you more compensation later— even if your medical condition takes a turn for the worse. There is a lot riding on negotiating an effective settlement. In our experience, insurance adjusters will take a victim more seriously once they know a lawyer is representing them.
Contact Naqvi for a Free Case Evaluation
Receiving a fair settlement is hard work. Many injured victims would prefer to focus on rehabbing their injuries instead of writing letters and haggling with an insurance adjuster for compensation. Hire the best lawyer you can find to be your voice in the negotiation process.
The legal team at Naqvi knows how to negotiate with the insurance adjusters. Call us today to speak with an attorney.