If you have been in a car accident and want to try to save on legal fees that you would pay to a personal injury attorney, then you may decide that negotiating your own settlement is a good way to go about it. On one hand, this is a great way to save money; however, when you are going against an insurance company on your own, you will be dealing with a company with decades of experience with investigating, negotiating, and settling claims to protect their own financial interests.
These companies take advantage of the fact that most claimants are inexperienced with settlements and leverage this inexperience to direct the settlement negotiations. Without question, the best way to get what you deserve is to work with a personal injury attorney—you can get more information about that here. If you decide to move forward with your own negotiations, then the following tips are a good start, but you will need to do extensive homework in order to have the understanding you will need to maximize your chances of a positive outcome.
Always Consider Your Negotiations
Negotiations won’t officially start until after you get an offer from the insurance company, but it is important that you keep your negotiations top-of-mind from the moment your claim is submitted. Each interaction that you have with the claims adjuster, every visit to a medical professional, and every piece of information that you gather about your accident will impact your negotiation process, so it is absolutely essential that you manage each of these steps with your final goal in mind.
Once the insurance company does conclude their claim investigation and make you an initial offer, you will be able to reference this number against your own, which has ample research to back the amount that you have decided, and can counter. The amount that you counter with depends on a lot of different things, including negotiation tactics that an attorney would use if they were representing you.
Without ample evidence to support the dollar amount that you are negotiating towards, the insurance company will not entertain your counters. If they see that you are making counteroffers without good information and supporting evidence, they will understandably dismiss your negotiations as inexperienced, uninformed, and unproductive. The victim with the most information and evidence is the victim who has the best chances of steering a negotiation in their favor, because it shows the insurance company and their attorneys that you know what you deserve, and you can lay the evidence out clearly.
Identify Your Leverage
Keep in mind that negotiations are carried out with the hope of avoiding a lawsuit, which is costly and time-consuming for everyone involved. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the insurance company, just the same as you, to reach an agreement before a lawsuit is filed. Knowing this, you will increase your chances of settling by showing the insurance company that your counter-offers are based in reality, backed by the evidence you have gathered, and reasonable based on past settlements or lawsuit awards and other precedents.
The more supporting information you are able to gather, the more leverage you will have. If you are going into negotiations without any supporting information or evidence, the insurance company may be less concerned about avoiding a lawsuit since an unprepared victim without leverage will not win the support of a judge or jury.
The things discussed in this article obviously provide a very limited window into the car accident settlement process, and it is important that you gather all of the necessary information and gain a comprehensive understanding before you move forward on your own. Working with an attorney costs more than representing yourself, but it also saves you significant time, research, and stress—especially important while you are trying to recover from the injuries that you suffered during the accident.