You might think obtaining compensation after a car accident is as simple as filing a claim and receiving a check, until you become a claimant and realize it takes much more for a fair settlement offer. If you suffer serious injuries and expensive property damages in a car crash, the odds are high that the insurance company receiving your claim will try to get you to settle for less than you deserve. It will be up to you to negotiate a fair car insurance settlement, or to hire a car accident attorney to do so for you.
Protect Your Rights
Protect your right to compensation from the beginning by taking immediate action after a car accident. Waiting longer than 24 hours to contact the insurance company could give the provider a reason to deny your claim or question its legitimacy. It could also help your case to get prompt medical care and keep your medical records for future use. Do not admit fault for the car accident during any conversations with insurance claims adjusters and do not allow them to record a statement from you about the crash. Recorded statements are tactics often employed to hurt a claimant’s case.
Speak to an Attorney
Filing your insurance claim will initiate the negotiation process. While the insurance company investigates your car accident, take the opportunity to speak to a car accident attorney. An attorney can give you honest advice about your claim, such as an accurate evaluation of what it might be worth. You can trust the dollar amount a lawyer assigns to your car accident claim, as a lawyer’s mission will be to maximize your recovery. With this knowledge, you will be better able to negotiate a fair amount from an insurance company.
Send a Demand Letter
The next step in a car insurance claim is filing your demand letter with the insurance provider. The demand letter is a written legal document that describes the accident, names the at-fault party, lists any supporting evidence you have and demands an amount of compensation you are willing to accept to settle the claim. The demand letter typically comes after you have fully healed from your injuries so you know what your injuries will cost in medical expenses, or at least until after you receive an accurate prognosis from a doctor. A lawyer can assist you with writing your demand letter.
Receive a Response
The insurance company will review your demand letter and issue a response typically within 30 to 45 days of receiving the letter. If the insurance company needs more time to investigate your case before responding, it must request this extension with a valid reason. Review the insurance company’s response. Expect the insurance provider to reject your offer or argue that your claim is worth significantly less than you think. Take the opportunity to either appeal the rejection or make a counteroffer.
Negotiate With the Insurance Company
Insurance companies expect claimants to negotiate for higher settlement awards. Making a low initial offer is a strategy insurance companies use to save money. Reject the adjuster’s offer and make your own based on how much you believe your case is worth. Hire a lawyer to negotiate for you if this is your first experience with a car insurance adjuster. You or your attorney will continue negotiating with the insurance adjuster until the company offers a fair amount. If this does not happen, you may need to take your case to court.
Initiate a Personal Injury Claim
If you reach an impasse with the insurance company during settlement negotiations, your lawyer may need to take the defendant to trial instead. A personal injury claim against the driver or party that caused your car accident could end in greater compensation for your losses than an insurance claim alone. Hire an attorney to represent you during a trial so you can focus on healing. Your lawyer will have the experience and ability to handle a trial against a powerful insurance company on your behalf.