If you are negotiating a personal injury settlement, chances are you will not be negotiating with the person who hurt you. Instead, you will negotiate a claim with their insurance company.
Both victims and insurers have strong incentives to settle. Both sides can control how much is paid out, which is not true if a case goes to trial (where a jury will come up with an amount). Settling is often faster, which helps bring finality to the dispute. Our clients usually benefit by receiving compensation in a timely manner.
Below, a Quinn Law Group personal injury attorney looks at what you need to know about settling a claim.
Insurers Rarely Offer Fair Compensation Right Out of the Gate
You probably kicked off the negotiation process by submitting a demand letter. This letter will explain the accident and make a demand for compensation. You might also have provided a list of medical bills and receipts for other losses, like car repairs.
Any demand for compensation should include damages for:
- Medical treatment
- Income loss
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
You can expect the insurer to counteroffer for a lower amount. Sometimes much lower. They might not fight too much over the cost of your medical care or the repair estimate for your vehicle. But they usually shortchange victims on compensation for pain and suffering.
You Need to Negotiate Aggressively to Get Fair Compensation
Insurance companies usually come around. If you hold firm, you can get them to increase the amount they offer. They might not give you as much as you want, but you can usually reach a fair amount.
Settlement is impossible, though, in a few situations:
- There is a dispute over fault for the accident. These cases often end up in court because the insurer could reduce or avoid liability altogether if you are mostly responsible for your accident.
- The insurer thinks your injuries were pre-existing. For example, you might have suffered a knee injury at work, and the insurer claims this is the true source of your pain.
- The insurer doesn’t believe you are seriously injured. In particular, they might push back on your claims of physical pain or emotional distress.
Most of our personal cases settle—over 90%. You must be able to say “no” to a counteroffer, even if you desperately need money.
Once You Settle, You Can’t Sue for More
As part of the settlement agreement, you will release the defendant from future liability for this accident. Essentially, this means you can’t sue in the future for this accident, so this is all the money you are getting from the defendant.
For this reason, you should never sign an agreement you think is too low. At Quinn Law, we work closely with clients to analyze a proposed settlement and counter when an offer is too low.
Need Assistance? Call Us
Don’t go into settlement negotiations without a highly-qualified legal team surrounding you. Our personal injury lawyers can guide you through the settlement process, and we will handle all negotiations on your behalf. Contact us to learn more.