If you are injured due to the negligence of another, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages. Quite often, an insurance company will be responsible for providing a defense to the negligent party and paying for any settlement or judgment in the case. From automobile accidents and slip and falls, to medical malpractice and dangerous product claims, it is typically insurance companies that pay for defense costs, settlements and judgments. For this reason, it is not surprising that case negotiations often involve an insurance adjuster or claims representative. These people are professionals who make a living resolving these claims for insurance companies. Thus, negotiating a fair and just settlement for your claim prior to the filing a formal lawsuit requires preparation, knowledge, patience and perseverance. The following are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Maintain good records that support your claim
All injuries and losses must be proven and documented. It is thus crucial that you maintain all relevant documentation to support your damage claim. This may include:
- Medical records
- Bills and invoices
- Receipts for payments for injury-related expenses
- Photos and videos
- Police report
- Proof of wage loss
Determine the value of the claim before you start negotiations
The factual information and documentation you gather in support of your claim will help you and your attorney determine its value. This will involve adding up all out-of-pocket and economic damages, including lost income caused by the injury. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and permanency of injuries, will also need to be assessed and a dollar amount assigned to these damages.
Prepare a demand package to insurance company
Once you have all relevant documents and proofs and are ready to begin negotiations, provide the insurance company with a comprehensive demand package containing all relevant case materials, statements, photographs, medical records and other items shedding light on the facts of the claim. It is only when the insurance company has a complete understanding of the facts that they will be in a position to evaluate the legal merits of the claim. The more comprehensive the presentation, the better the chances for a successful negotiation.
Carefully consider any offers
Any offers to settle should be compared against the estimated value of the claim. Many times you will know early on in the negotiation whether there exists a chance for pre-suit settlement of the claim. If it appears that a counter-offer would be beneficial and advance the negotiations, then one should be discussed and then presented to the insurance company.
Document your communications
All communications should be documented and regular follow-ups should be calendared to ensure that the negotiations do not lose momentum. Calls from insurance claims representatives and adjusters should be returned promptly.
Building a personal injury case requires the compilation and presentation of the most relevant, impactful documents and materials. Experienced legal counsel can help you assess the merits of your claim and present a powerful claim to an insurance company on your behalf. Contact the Reinartz Law Firm for a free consultation and case evaluation.