Car Accident Settlement Attorney
Car Accident Settlement Attorney: Negotiating and Maximizing Car Accident Settlement.
A car accident can occur at any time. It is a sudden, unfortunate incident that can happen to anyone – whether a driver, passenger, or pedestrian – on the road. So, you never know when you might get involved in an accident. Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is not easy! If you’re injured in an auto accident, you need to look for an Atlanta car accident settlement attorney to help you file a claim/lawsuit to pursue compensation for your injuries and damages.
You should understand your goals and prepare well for your car accident settlement negotiation so that you increase your chances of getting the best out of your compensation claim.
If you intend to file a claim to recover damages following an auto accident, keep in mind that you may have to enter into negotiations with the insurance company to try to agree on a settlement. (Note: Even if you have gone a step further to file a personal injury lawsuit in court against the liable party or parties, there is still room for settlement negotiations that could lead to an out-of-court resolution of your case at any time.) The settlement process usually begins after you or your attorney sends a demand letter to the insurance company.
Working with a Settlement Lawyer
If you or your car accident settlement lawyer has reached out to the insurance company and submitted a well-drafted, organized, and precise demand letter together with proper supporting documents, only a few phone calls with an insurance claims adjuster might be enough to reach a settlement during the negotiation process.
However, there is a bigger picture, and this is how it typically looks: you (or your lawyer) and the insurance adjuster will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your claim whether through written correspondence or more informally.
The claims adjuster will either accept or reject the offer or make a counteroffer. This adjuster (also called an appraiser, investigator, or examiner) is the one to determine whether an insurance company should pay a claim or not and, if so, how much.
Then, after evaluating your claim, the adjuster will come back to you with a settlement offer of an amount often significantly less than what you asked for in your demand letter.
If you are making a compensation claim following a car accident, at some point you need to consider the amount you would be willing to accept to settle your claim (most car accident cases end up settling before trial).
You’ll make a counteroffer of a figure higher than the adjuster’s offer but lower than your original amount. Oftentimes, there’ll be a lot of back and forth between you (or your Atlanta car accident settlement attorney) and the insurance company regarding the value of your claim, until an agreement is reached.
Typically, after two or three phone calls you are likely to agree on a settlement figure somewhere in between.
Let’s now look at how you can position yourself to get the best settlement of your claim.
Determine Your Settlement Amount
How much should you settle for? If you are pursuing a personal injury claim following a car accident, the first thing you should do, before you can start negotiating a settlement, is to put your value on the claim.
As part of putting together your demand letter, you should have determined what you believe your claim is worth. You can’t negotiate until you know how much money you’re looking for.
Within that figure, and before you speak to a claim’s adjuster about your claim, decide on a minimum settlement amount that you’ll accept. The figure is for your information and goals – so you can keep your bottom line in mind when under the pressures of negotiating – but it isn’t something you want to reveal to the adjuster.
Your goal when deciding how much to settle for is to settle the case for what a jury in your state might award if you won at trial while considering your chances of winning the case. However, you shouldn’t cling to the settlement you set for yourself.
What are your chances of winning
What are your chances of winning the case at trial? You should assess your chances of winning the trial realistically and objectively. To do this, you should understand and weigh the evidence for and against you, considering the credibility of all the witnesses, including yourself, and have a good sense of what juries in your jurisdiction have awarded in similar trials over the past few years.
Once you file a car accident claim with an insurance company, the claims adjuster goes to work. The adjuster may come up with strategies to elicit comments that unfairly weaken your case. The unfortunate fact is that claims adjusters often try to trip up claimants (especially those without a car accident settlement attorney Atlanta), getting them to say things that will weaken or jeopardize their claim.
Therefore, it is important to strategize ahead of time and develop responses to all potential weak points in your claim to respond with your best argument right away. But if an adjuster points out some facts you hadn’t considered that clearly make your claim weaker, then you may have to lower your figure a bit.
And, if the adjuster starts with an offer at or near your minimum amount, you may want to revise your figure upward.
Once you understand how insurance companies work and what the motivation of the claims adjusters is, you can use that information to your advantage to negotiate the best settlement possible.
Reservation of Rights Letter
Don’t be alarmed or feel intimidated if you receive a “reservation of rights” letter from the insurance company. A reservation of rights letter is provided by an insurance company to an insured party indicating that a claim may not be covered under a policy.
Insurance companies will issue a reservation of rights letter to a policyholder to notify him or her that they are investigating the claim.
This letter does not serve as a notice of an outright denial of a claim. However, the letter only informs you that the insurance company is investigating the claim and therefore, reserves the right to deny the claim if the findings of its investigation show that the accident is not covered under the policy.
The insurance company often issue a reservation of rights letter to protect itself from claims that their policies do not cover. So, the fact that an insurance company has begun settlement negotiation with you does not entitle you to compensation.
Evaluate the First Offer Critically
An insurance adjuster may tactically make an initial offer that is so low just to see if you know what you’re doing and the settlement you want. Or, the offer may be reasonable, but it is just too low.
So, if it’s a reasonable offer, you or your car accident settlement attorney Atlanta can immediately make a counteroffer of an amount that’s a little bit lower than what you requested in your demand letter. This shows you’re being reasonable too, and willing to compromise to make progress in settling your claim.
You might do a little more bargaining, but eventually, you’ll both agree on a final settlement amount.
Seek Justification For A Low Offer
If an adjuster makes an initial offer that is so low, and you clearly find out that it is his/her negotiation tactic to determine whether you really know the value of your claim, then stick to the amount you put in your demand letter. Do not lower the figure immediately.
Instead, first, seek specific reasons from the adjuster as to why he or she made an offer that is so low, and remember to record everything he or she tells you. Then you should write and send a letter responding to every reason the adjuster has provided.
Evaluate the strength of each of the adjuster’s reasons to determine if you need to lower your settlement amount slightly, but wait to see how the adjuster will respond – whether he/she will budge – after receiving your reply before lowering the figure very far.
Ensure you first ask for the adjuster’s response to your reply letter when you speak with him/her next time. At this point, you can expect the adjuster to make a reasonable offer, which you can bargain, and agree on a fair settlement amount. Remember, most personal injury cases settle at some point
Focus on Emotional Points
When you go into these negotiations, you don’t have to go over all the facts of the case again. Just concentrate on the strongest emotional points in your favor and the impact of the car accident on your life – for example, the other party is fully responsible for the accident, that the injury you suffer caused you a lot of pain, that current and future medical expenses were reasonable, and/or that you had permanent or long-term physical effects.
However, mention any emotional points to support your claim. For example, if you had sent the adjuster a severe-looking injury or a particularly strong photo of a smashed car, refer to it. You should also mention that your child suffered because you weren’t able to take care of him/her due to the injury.
While you can’t put a dollar value on emotional distress and “pain and suffering”, these components of an injured person’s losses (“damages”) can go a long way toward getting an insurance company to make a fair settlement offer.
Put the Settlement in Writing
When you and the claims adjuster finally agree on a settlement, immediately confirm the terms in a letter to the adjuster. This letter can be short and sweet, stating the amount for which you settled, the injuries or damages covered in the settlement, and the date by which you expect to receive the settlement documents from the insurance company.
If you have been involved in a car accident and suffered injuries, you should look for a professional, experienced, reputable, and dedicated car accident settlement attorney Atlanta to help you pursue compensation to recover damages.
More importantly, it is highly advisable to have an attorney negotiate for a settlement with the insurance adjuster on your behalf.
Car Accident Settlement Attorney
If you need a reliable, dedicated, and experienced attorney to represent you, contact Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC today. Call us now at (470) 268-5802 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.
Car Accident Settlement Attorney