Settlement Secrets Insurance Companies Don’t Want You To Know
Do you find yourself asking “Should I settle my insurance claim?”
When you make a personal injury claim, you’ll eventually negotiate with the other party’s insurance company. Even if you end up filing a lawsuit, negotiations will be ongoing. Your case may reach a resolution out of court at any time.
Presenting the insurance company with a strong demand letter with plenty of evidence in your favor is important, so you want to know how to write an effective personal injury demand letter. In this case, negotiations might only take a few phone calls. This is one reason it is essential to have an attorney from the beginning of your personal injury process. The attorneys at Gordon & Gordon put together a few tips that will help you get the best settlement possible in Louisiana. We also discuss why it may or may not be in your best interest to settle your case, and some tips for negotiations.
How to Negotiate a Settlement in Louisiana: The Negotiation Process
Every personal injury claim is different. This means that the negotiation process can vary widely. Sometimes all it takes is a few phone calls.
However, the average settlement negotiation tends to be a bit more complex. Negotiations take place between your attorney and the other party’s insurance adjuster. Both sides will make points about the strengths and weaknesses of your claims.
Consider this scenario. Your attorney points out there are eyewitness accounts confirming the other person was responsible for your injury. Obviously this evidence would be in your favor. The insurance adjuster should accept your attorney’s settlement demand. The insurance company might come back and say that another person might have been equally responsible for your injury. This might be a weakness in your claim and might mean you and your attorney should accept a lower settlement amount. Your attorney then proposes a number a big higher than the counter-offer but still lower than the original offer.
This process continues until both parties arrive at a figure everyone is sufficiently happy with. The final number will probably be lower than what your attorney first offered. But it should at the very least be higher than what the insurance adjuster first offered.
Should I Settle My Insurance Claim?
This depends entirely on your specific case. The easiest way to know if you should settle is to ask a Gordon & Gordon personal injury attorney.
Settling is usually in the best interest of both parties. The alternative to settling an insurance claim is to take your case to trial. Keep in mind that trials are unpredictable. They may drag on for months and even years.
Take the advice of your personal injury attorney. The rare case in which you should go to trial is if you have strong evidence and the insurance company refuses to negotiate.
How to Negotiate A Settlement in Louisiana: Quick Tips From A Shreveport Bossier Attorney
There are a few practices you can employ to put your claim in the best possible position during negotiations. Here are some of these tips from a Louisiana personal injury attorney:
Have A Settlement Amount in Mind
Figure out the minimum amount of money you’re willing to accept.
As part of your personal injury settlement demand letter, you and your attorney at Gordon & Gordon will help you determine how much your claim is worth. Working within the range of that number, you and your attorney will decide the smallest amount of money you would be willing to accept. The number in your demand letter is the amount of money you want, but it helps to keep your bottom line in mind during negotiations. Don’t share any of this information with the insurance adjuster. If they catch wind of your willingness to accept less money, they won’t budge later on.
Don’t be too stubborn about the figure you have in mind. If an insurance adjuster points out that some key weaknesses in your claim you hadn’t considered before, it might be wise to review your minimum amount. If the adjuster begins by offering an amount near your minimum, you should move your figure upward.
What is a Reservation of Rights Letter?
Sometimes an insurance company will send you something called a reservation of rights letter. Don’t let this intimidate you.
This simply means the insurance company is investigating your claim. They reserve their right not to pay you if the other party’s policy doesn’t cover your accident.
This just means the insurance company is trying to protect itself. It prevents you from claiming that the policy covers your accident simply because the company opened negotiations with you.
Don’t Jump At The First Offer
Insurance adjusters almost always offer an extremely low amount for the first offer to see if you will accept the fast cash. Their main goal is not to help you. It’s to save the insurance company money. This is why it’s important to have an attorney.
If the offer is reasonable but just a bit low, you should counter with a slightly higher number, but still less than your original demand. This shows the adjuster that you are being reasonable too.
Make the Adjuster Justify A Low Offer
Ask the adjuster you’re working with for specific reasons they made such a low offer. It’s possible they just made the low offer to call your bluff and see if you know how much your claim is really worth.
Just because they made an offer that is unreasonably low doesn’t mean you should lower your original offer. Instead, ask them to explain why they are offering so little.
Write them a response and answer to each of their points. See if they will budge after that. If the adjuster is being reasonable, you should be able to reach a fair settlement with them.
Emphasize Emotional Points
Don’t shy away from talking about emotional factors. Although facts are necessary, strong emotional claims help too.
If your injury prevented you from taking care of your child, talk about your child’s suffering. You can’t put a real price on pain and suffering. But emphasizing your emotional pain can go a long way in getting insurance companies to bring a reasonable offer to the table.
Put the Settlement in Writing
Once you and the insurance adjuster finally reach an agreement, confirm it with a letter. This will be addressed to the insurance adjuster. It can be short and sweet. Simply name the amount you agreed to, the injuries involved and the date you expect to receive the settlement money.
Should I Settle My Insurance Claim? Call Gordon & Gordon!
The attorneys at Gordon & Gordon are experienced in working with insurance companies to get you the best results possible for your settlement. If you’ve been injured and don’t want to have to face the insurance companies alone, contact us for a free consultation.