Personal Injury Settlements: How to Negotiate with Your Insurance Company

If you have recently been involved in a personal injury case, you might currently be considering a settlement. Part of the settlement process is negotiating with your insurance company after filing a claim. You want to get what you deserve, and this often requires negotiating through letters and documents with your insurance company. Here are some tips to be more successful during the negotiation process.

Negotiation Process Basics

If you have yet to enter the negotiation phase of your claim, it helps to know a little more about how the entire process works. The first step after getting an injury or being involved in a personal injury dispute is gathering your evidence and filing your claim. You may or may not have a lawyer assisting you at this point.

After filing your initial claim, you will be in contact with the insurance adjuster, who is going to attempt to make their first offer. The amount the adjuster gives you is almost always lower than what you first requested. When you start negotiating, you may go back and forth with the adjuster several times before a settlement is agreed upon. Before any of this starts, you should be prepared.

The Reservation of Rights Letter

You may receive a letter from your insurance company that is called a "Reservation of Rights" letter. It can be intimidating or worrisome receiving this letter, but it is only a formality. The letter is meant to let you know that the insurance company is currently investigating your claim. It says that if they do not find solid proof of the accident or injury you are claiming, they reserve the right not to pay you anything. You will still continue with the negotiations process even if you receive this letter.

Decide on a Settlement Amount

When you are preparing your claim, you should already have an amount in mind that you would be happy with as far as the settlement goes. This will be the amount of what you think your personal injury claim is worth based on your injuries and other ways it has affected you. After deciding on this number, choose a minimum amount you are willing to accept from the insurance adjuster. These two amounts help you when preparing the demand letter and when you start negotiating with the adjuster. You will not reveal the minimum amount, so make sure you keep that in mind. It is simply a number you can agree to if the adjuster presents you with that settlement amount.

Never Accept the First Offer

As you go through the negotiation process, remember not to accept the first offer. For someone new to personal injury cases, it can be tempting to simply take their first offer and leave it at that. However, an insurance adjuster will almost always come back with a higher counter offer. Don't take the first offer because you think that is all they will offer you. Go through the effort of negotiations to get what you deserve.

It may take several counter offers before you and the adjuster agree on a settlement amount. It is highly recommended that you have a personal injury attorney to handle these negotiations.