When it comes to personal injury cases, the most common outcome is that you and your attorney will agree to a settlement with the most relevant insurance carrier. This outcome quite often results in you getting most or all of the compensation the policy promises to those who have covered incidents. It also avoids expensive, lengthy litigation in which a judge or jury will order an insurer to pay a set amount, which can still end up being a reduced amount — or no amount at all as the case moves into a series of appeals.
Therefore, much of the process of a personal injury case involves assembling the needed documentation for an insurer, responding to their discrepancies, and then ultimately negotiating the final amount that the injured party will receive from the insurer. In cases where liability falls upon a party other than an insurer, the process will often still be quite similar.
To help you gain more insight into the settlement process as well as what personal injury attorneys can do for you, read on.
The Initial Investigation, Documentation and Demand Letter
After you have been injured in a situation that you think a liable party’s insurance would compensate you for medical costs and other damages, you and your attorney will begin an investigation process.
This investigation will help you document all of the relevant factors concerning your injury — when it happened, what lead to it, any witnesses involved, any relevant factors like weather, the role of the policyholder in causing the injury, etc. Then, after reviewing the insured’s policy to see what damages and costs may be covered, you and your attorney will craft what is called a demand letter.
A demand letter operates similarly to a policyholder filing a claim with their own insurance. It lays out all of the factors revealed during investigation and comes to the conclusion that the insurer owes you a set amount of money. You and your attorney will decide on this amount together, but it usually involves the highest amount possible needed to recover your medical costs while compensating you for general damages like pain and suffering, loss of income, and other such indirect costs.
Insurer Responds to Your Demand Letter
When an insurance adjuster receives your demand letter, they are likely to respond in turn with arguments alleging why your injury claim is not covered by their policy or why you are not entitled to the full amount within your demands. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible, after all.
You and your attorney will respond to these allegations by providing the clarity or needed extra documentation to prove your case along with why you are asking for the amount stated in your demand.
Once the insurer is convinced that your claim is in fact covered by their policy, they will respond with their first offer. This offer is usually painfully low, and it is an attempt to get you to settle quickly for less or to see how you react in general.
Negotiating the Settlement with Personal Injury Attorneys
At this point in the process, you, your attorney and the insurance adjuster will likely respond to counteroffers back and forth until both parties can reach an amount that seems fair. This amount will generally be higher the more weight the insurer feels you have in terms of documentation and legal precedent on your side, while claims perceived as “weaker” will not receive as high of counteroffers from the insurer.
As you can imagine, this process involves no small amount of skill, experience, patience and knowledge regarding the needed forms, procedures and documentation. Many people who attempt to claim an insurance amount without an attorney can get stuck in the process, settling for less than they deserve or not being able to receive any money at all.
For this reason, it is highly beneficial to appoint personal injury attorneys to represent your case and help you obtain the highest settlement amount possible. Use the number above or the contact form to the right to receive a free case review and potentially start assembling your claim today.