You may already know about the benefits that you are entitled to receive if you've been injured in an accident that was not your fault. Generally, you are entitled to be compensated for damage to your vehicle and other personal property lost, as well as all medical expenses. One of the most potentially valuable aspects of a personal injury claim, however, is the option to be paid monetary damages for your pain and suffering. While it may seem impossible to put a price on such a thing, you are entitled to it and you should be aware that you can take steps to help ensure that the offer is fair.
The Demand Letter
The negotiation process begins with a letter to the at-fault party's insurance company, which puts them on formal notice that you intend to seek compensation. You can view samples of demand letters to give you an ideal of how to proceed, should you not have legal representation. Take care to create a letter that is respectful in tone and factual in content. Consider including the following:
- Who you allege is at fault and why.
- The medical treatments you have undergone and the costs so far.
- The effect, both physical and emotional, that the accident has had on both you and your family.
- The dollar amount of lost wages incurred so far.
- The physical evidence available should your case go to court. Include medical records, police reports, witness statements, photographs and videos.
- Finally, the dollar amount you are demanding to be paid to settle the case without going to court. Leave some room for negotiation by raising that dollar amount slightly.
What to Know About Negotiating
You can expect an insurance adjuster to contact you via phone at an appointed time, so be prepared for the call by assembling your important paperwork and notes ahead of time.
- The adjuster will likely "low ball" the first offer to determine your level of willingness to settle. Don't be discouraged or cave at this initial low offer and don't allow the adjuster to sense any desperation on your part.
- You may counter the low offer with a slightly higher request, but still a little lower than your first demand. It's vital that you keep a bottom-line amount in mind during this process.
- You may reach a stalemate where the adjuster seems to be firm at a low figure. It's perfectly acceptable to question the reasoning for this low amount. You may need to reconsider your bottom-line amount if the adjuster mentions mitigating factors, such as you sharing some fault with the other driver for the accident.
- Be sure to let the adjuster know how the accident has affected, and continues to affect, you and your family. Real life stories about ways in which you are unable to partake in family activities are not only convincing to the adjuster, but potentially to a jury as well.
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