After a car accident, it's common for people to assume they can handle the insurance company on their own – communicating back and forth, sending documents, and negotiating their settlement. Unfortunately, many people underestimate the insurance company's experience, negotiation skills, and primary goal of paying as little as possible to claimants. They eventually find themselves sitting across from the table wishing they had called a car accident lawyer.
Fortunately, people don't have auto accidents frequently enough to be adequately experienced with the insurance claims process. As such, they don't understand all that goes into the negotiation and overall communication with the insurance adjuster. That's where an experienced lawyer comes in. S/he will know the process, as well as how the insurance company thinks. This keeps claimants from making dire mistakes that could jeopardize their physical and financial recovery.
In this article, we'll discuss how to negotiate with the insurance company and the benefits of having a lawyer on your side. If you're currently facing this situation, give Impact Legal a call or text today at (602) 345-1818. We offer a free initial consultation where we will review the facts of your case to understand the best legal route available to you.
Know These Tips When Negotiating with the Insurance Company
Before you go head to head with an experienced insurance adjuster, there's a lot to know. Here are a few tips to keep in your back pocket as you move forward with your claim.
- A lawyer can do this for you - There's a lot of legwork that goes into communicating and negotiating with an insurance company after an accident. From gathering evidence, developing the right legal strategy, compiling it in a demand letter for the insurance adjuster, and negotiating an appropriate settlement offer, the process is extensive. It's also likely that you don't want to be going back and forth with the insurance company and completing mountains of paperwork as you're trying to recover from your accident. When you hire a lawyer, s/he can do this part for you.
- Hire a lawyer sooner rather than later - From the very moment of your collision, the clock starts ticking on any potential settlement and lawsuit. Experienced adjusters know exactly where to start, and they do so immediately. Depending on the facts of your case, this could be detrimental for you. Consider you've been in an accident with a big commercial truck. Not taking action immediately allows time for the other side to build evidence against you, potentially placing liability in your court. With generally larger insurance companies and bank accounts, this scenario is all too common in an effort to pay you little to nothing for your damages. Additionally, without a lawyer, essential evidence, such as black box data may be overlooked or “lost” by the trucking company. Hiring a lawyer as soon as possible will help you gather important evidence and ensure the other side complies will put you in a better position to get the financial compensation you need and deserve.
- You do not have to accept a settlement - Typically, the first settlement offer from the insurance company is low. It is their job every day to pay out as little as possible on claims, so they know what they are doing. Know that you do not have to accept a settlement offer at any point. If the insurance company refuses to offer an appropriate settlement, you may have to file a lawsuit to get the financial compensation you deserve. A lawyer will advise you on when to settle and when to file suit.
- Start with a higher amount than you calculated - You and your lawyer will sit down and calculate the value of your personal injury claim. In the initial settlement request, it's a good idea to go higher than that estimated value of your claim. This gives you room to negotiate.
What Does the Process Look Like?
The process of going back and forth with the insurance company to come to the financial amount you deserve and need to recover may be rigorous. Typically, the process is a version of this:
- Drafting & Sending the Demand Letter - This initial letter will outline the facts and details of your car accident. Any expenses and injuries incurred will be included in it. Your lawyer will compile evidence and documentation to present a strong case to the insurance company. The initial requested settlement amount will be laid out in this letter.
- The Insurance Company Presents an Offer & Negotiations Commence - The insurance adjuster will review the demand letter, then, typically, respond with a lowball initial offer. This is the point where your attorney will begin negotiations.
- Mediation Is an Option - If an agreement is proving difficult to reach, a neutral third party may be brought in to assist in coming to an agreement before deciding to go to trial.
- Deciding to Accept the Offer or File a Lawsuit - Often this is the point where a settlement is reached. However, sometimes insurance companies refuse to pay a fair amount, and your lawyer will advise you to go to court.
Tactics that Insurance Companies May Use
Unfortunately, insurance companies use many tactics to try to decrease your settlement amount or refuse your claim altogether. Your lawyer will know how to spot and combat these tactics. Here are some of the most common tactics an insurance company may use against you:
- Calling you almost immediately after your accident - Calling you so soon after the accident is an attempt to catch you off guard and in a vulnerable position, contact you before you have noticed any injuries, and speak with you before you have hired a car accident lawyer.
- Offering you a speedy settlement in exchange for you signing away your claim - The insurance company will make it their mission to settle quickly for as little as possible when people are vulnerable and more tempted to take any amount of money offered. In exchange, they'll ask for your release on the claim, meaning what they pay you now is the total amount you will be able to collect, even if you notice an injury down the road.
- Denying liability in the accident - Whether they deny all or partial liability, this impacts your financial compensation. If the accident was the fault of another driver, don't let the insurance company pin any of it on you. Contact a lawyer to help you prove where the fault lies.
- Delaying communications and settlement offers - This common tactic is meant to turn up the heat on claimants. The hope is that financial stress piles up (car repair expenses, medical bills, lost wages, etc), making claimants so desperate for any amount of money that they settle for way less than the value of their personal injury case. Alternatively, the insurance provider may delay in hopes that the claimant gets tired of waiting and going through the hassle that s/he gives up on the claim entirely.
- Misrepresenting the facts - Insurance adjusters may try to twist the facts. They may misrepresent the amount of insurance coverage available to you, lie about the amount of medical treatment you're eligible to receive, or tell you you're better off without a lawyer.
Consulting an Experienced Injury Lawyer
After a car accident, it's advisable to at least do an initial consultation with an injury lawyer to review the facts of your case. If you're already in the process of negotiating with an insurance company after an auto accident and you notice any of the shady tactics mentioned above, call Impact Legal today at (602) 345-1818. You are entitled to a fair legal remedy that helps to make you “whole” again. Don't delay your recovery following an accident because the insurance company gave you the runaround. We're here to help you get the financial compensation you need to be you again.