For those of us who are fans of legal dramas on television, the idea of going to court over a personal injury lawsuit may seem exciting — and a little nerve-wracking. In reality, the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled outside of court. This makes it incredibly important that your Long Island personal injury lawyer have top notch negotiation skills.
In most cases, the insurance company will start by offering you a low amount in the hopes that you will accept it. This is just the opening offer in what should be a series of negotiations designed to get you the money that you deserve.
The Steps of a Personal Injury Case
The Insurance Company Contacts You
In a typical personal injury case, after a person has suffered an injury, he or she will be contacted by an insurance company. The injured party may choose to cooperate with the insurance company to obtain a settlement, or consult with a Long Island personal injury lawyer about their rights and options.
Retaining an Attorney
By retaining an attorney, an injured person can determine if they are entitled to more compensation than what the insurance company is offering. A Long Island personal injury lawyer will thoroughly investigate the case, analyze the law, and draft a demand letter.
The Demand Letter
This letter will include the facts of the case, the legal basis for the claim, and the amount of damages claimed. The damages may include items such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future medical treatment.
The Insurance Company’s Investigation
After a demand letter is sent, the insurance company will perform its own investigation. It will then reply with an offer to settle the case. The parties will negotiate back and forth until a final settlement is achieved. 95 to 96% of personal injury cases settle before trial. In rare cases, the case will go to trial, where a jury will either find for the plaintiff (the injured party) and award damages, or find for the defendant.
Responding to a Low Settlement Offer
The initial settlement offer made by many insurance companies is often very low. There are many reasons why this may happen. The claims adjuster may conclude that you were partially at fault for your injuries, or that your injuries were simply not as serious as what you claimed in your demand letter. Whatever the case may be, remember that this initial settlement offer is just the start of negotiations.
Insurance companies know that when victims of accidents receive their first settlement offer, they are often in difficult financial circumstances. They may have been out of work for weeks or months, and have significant medical bills. Many victims are eager to accept the first settlement offer that comes their way — even if it is lower than what they deserve for their injuries.
The job of the insurance company is not to make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They want to protect their bottom line — and that means offering you less money than you are rightfully owed.
When you receive an initial or low settlement offer, take the time to analyze the letter. Review the reasons given by the insurance company for the low settlement amount. A skilled Long Island personal injury lawyer can respond to each of the points made by the claims adjuster, and reiterate your position as to why you deserve compensation.
Next, focus on why you deserve a higher settlement offer. List the reasons why you are owed more compensation than what has been offered. Include a demand for more money (a higher settlement offer).
This will serve to reject the insurance company’s low settlement offer and to make a counteroffer. Your counteroffer should be lower than what you asked for in your initial demand letter to show that you are willing to compromise — but not so low that you do not have room to negotiate.
These types of negotiations may go back and forth for several weeks or months. An experienced Long Island personal injury lawyer can use the facts of your case plus awards from other personal injury cases to build a strong argument for settling at a desirable amount. For example, if a similar car accident case resulted in a jury award of $500,000, then a settlement amount of $450,000 will seem reasonable.
Work with a Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in any type of accident, working with a Long Island personal injury lawyer can help you get the money that you deserve for your injuries. Insurance companies do not want to just hand over money to you; it often requires aggressive negotiation for you to get fair compensation.
The attorneys Siler & Ingber have devoted their practice to representing victims of all types of accidents. We represent clients on a contingency fee basis, which means that we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact us today at 877-718-6079, or reach out online anytime.