You haven’t engaged the services of a personal injury lawyer but you know you have a viable claim, so how do you go about ensuring you are awarded the settlement you believe to be fair? You could sit back, and wait for an offer but is that going to get you the best possible outcome? Far better to have a plan of action.
What is your minimum amount?
To begin with, do you have an idea of how much you are expecting to be awarded? And is it a realistic sum? It’s fine to have a larger number than you’re actually looking for but have you considered what the least amount you’d settle for is likely to be?
When you speak with the adjuster, your minimum amount is something you absolutely should keep in mind, not least because if an offer is made, you’ll know whether to accept it or not. Of course, you may find that the adjuster comes up with factors which could affect your initial number; for example, you may have set your sights too high, and sticking to this figure could actually weaken your claim, in which case, it might be better to lower your minimum amount. By the same token, there may be things which you haven’t considered, which could strengthen your claim, and thus, it might be wise to increase your figure.
Use emotional arguments
It may sound counter-intuitive but playing the emotion card can very often be a potent way to get insurance companies to settle. What do we mean by emotional arguments? Here’s a short list of points which may work in your favor, which you should not hesitate to draw upon:
- Was there alcohol involved in the other party’s behaviour or actions?
- Do you have photographic evidence of your injuries?
- Do you have photographic evidence of damage to your property?
- Is the area known for its accidents?
- Has your injury affected your ability to work?
- Has your injury affected your relationships with your family, friends, colleagues, etc.?
- Has your family suffered because of your accident?
These are all things which could help to strengthen your claim.
If they don’t go down the route of denying liability altogether, insurance companies will almost always offer a low initial settlement. Before deciding whether to accept it or not, do bear in mind that this is usually a tactic in order for them to see how informed you are, and whether you’re more concerned with a pay-out than receiving fair compensation.
Obviously, it is entirely up to you whether you accept a first offer; however, if you have already set a minimum acceptable settlement amount, you will immediately have an idea of whether what the insurance adjusters have proposed is reasonable or not. If it is reasonable but not quite what you are hoping for, you can then make a counter-offer, and because you’ve done a bit of homework, and have a sum in mind, the insurance company is more likely to agree to a mutually beneficial compromise.
If however, the adjuster’s offer is unreasonably low, you should ask them why this is the case, and then respond to each point they make, telling them why you believe you are entitled to a higher settlement. Conversely, after you have received their response, if they are not willing to accede to your demand, and if you believe they actually have a point, you will be in a position to adjust your demand down accordingly.
Above all, remember to always wait for the insurance company to respond to you before agreeing to, or countering their offers.
If after you’ve addressed all their points, you feel they still are not open to making a reasonable proposition, it could be time to consult a personal injury lawyer in order to take your claim to the next level.
Engaging a personal injury attorney
When is it appropriate to engage the services of a personal injury lawyer? The most obvious scenario is when you’re seeking substantial compensation, and you feel that the insurance company is not making a reasonable settlement offer.
Another instance may be when your claim is unprecedented; unique claims may well have to be proved in court, and it might simply be that the insurers just do not recognize the gravity of your claim.
If your injury has resulted in a loss of income, and is likely to lead to ongoing medical treatment, for which you are seeking compensation, you would do well to consult with a personal injury attorney, who will be experienced in this kind of settlement.
There may be many more reasons why you should engage a personal injury lawyer, so if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in New York City, you may wish to speak to New York personal injury attorneys as soon as possible.
No matter whether you go it alone, or hire a personal injury lawyer, you should always get the agreed settlement in writing. This does not have to be a lengthy legal document – a short letter, which states what has been agreed to, will suffice.
Our expert accident lawyers at Antin, Ehrlich, and Epstein LLP will determine the best course of action in order to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today on 212-221-5999 to schedule a free, no obligation, consultation.