Most automobile accident claims will be handled through your insurance company, but it is important to know how to negotiate your individual settlement in order to receive the compensation you require.
1. Your first step should be to contact the insurance company and provide a “demand letter.” A demand letter is critically important to your proceedings. It should begin by laying out the facts of the accident, the nature and extent of your injuries, the type of damage or loss you’ve suffered, and any other relevant information.
2. Within the letter, true to its name, you will include an amount for which you wish to settle. At this point, you must have a settlement amount in mind, and while you can request a higher number in your demand letter, expect to be talked down in negotiations.
3. Before negotiations begin, you may be sent a notice from your insurance company reserving their rights to investigate your case. Don’t panic, this is standard procedure.
4. Once your letter has been received, you will speak to an insurance adjuster who will try to drive down the amount you listed in your demand.
5. You will have the opportunity to counter their offer until you reach an agreement and it is important not to jump at the first offer presented to you. Take the time to research and discuss the offers with your attorney.
6. If the initial offer is too low, get the adjuster to give you the specific reasons for the amount. You can then draft a letter, with the help of your attorney, responding to each point in turn. This will hopefully allow you to arrive at a fair settlement figure.
7. Once you come to an agreement, put the settlement in writing. Immediately confirm the offer made by the adjuster with the insurance company via letter, stating the amount you agreed upon, the injuries or damages which that amount will cover, and the date you expect to receive the funds.
The negotiation process can be a confusing one, so do not hesitate to contact an attorney for help. They can ensure that you’re receiving the amount of money you deserve based on the specific facts of your case and can handle the drafting of all relevant letters and documents.