How To Maximize A Settlement Claim

There are thousands of auto, train and airplane accidents that occur each and every year, many of them resulting in fatalities. However, many of these accidents result in injuries severe enough to cause psychological and physical trauma. These injuries may even prevent the victim from enjoying the same quality of life she or he did before the accident took place. For those who have experienced an incident such as this, it is important to find out where the fault lies. Finding this fault, and receiving a proper settlement, usually involves dealing with the insurer representing the company, driver or pilot involved in the accident. But negotiating a settlement with an insurer can be a complicated process. Here are some tips to ensure any accident victim can maximize his or her chances at proper compensation.

 When to Begin Negotiations on an Injury Claim

Simply put: as soon as possible. Should medical care be required after an accident, the victim should seek it out immediately. After recovering from these injuries then it is time to obtain all relevant documentation (medical records, police reports, witness statements and photos) and send a demand letter to the insurance company in question. This act officially kicks off settlement negotiations. Having all proper evidence and documentation is crucial, as it plays a large role in just how easy it will be to get the insurer to pay up.

How To Maximize A Settlement Claim

Coming up with a Figure

In no instance should the claimant accept the first offer from the insurance company. The best thing to do is treat the whole scenario like a visit to the car dealership—and in fact this is much how the accident settlement system is set up. The claimant will want to come up with a figure 25% to 100% more than their baseline figure, or the minimum sum they feel is fair. What happens most of the time is that offers and counteroffers are traded until a settlement is reached.

The Length of the Negotiations

It’s difficult to say just how long a settlement negotiation should go on, because each case is different. However, the general rule of thumb is that negotiations can and should continue until a fair settlement is agreed upon. Sometimes it takes no longer than a single conversation to come to an agreement. Other times lawyers insist on discussing the case and covering all bases before negotiations can even take place, and then it can be months of back and forth offers.

The Final Offer

The trick to any negotiation is to know when a “final offer” is really a final offer. For example, some insurance adjusters will try to get their company off the hook quickly and cheaply by cutting the negotiations short with one last offer. Of course if the offer is too low, the claimant should not take it. It is also wise to try and expose this “last offer” to see if it is in fact a gambit. To do this, listen closely to the language the adjuster is using. If he or she says, “Right now this is the highest figure I can offer,” then it likely isn’t a true final amount—because the use of right now qualified the sentence.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when negotiating a settlement in a personal injury case. The ultimate decision of whether or not to settle will likely rest on a few things, such as the cost-benefit of a drawn-out court trial, as well as what the claimant truly thinks he or she can get from the insurer in question.

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