What Should I Know About Negotiating My Case?
You should know that there is no standard or usual settlement amount for any given injury orwrongful death claim. The difference between a low settlement and a high settlement for thesame claim can be multiple times larger. Here are two examples. We took over the handling of amotorcycle accident case where the client's previous attorney nearly demanded that the clientaccept a $15,000 settlement for his nearly severed leg. We settled the case for over $3 million. Ina case of a junior high school student with a serious head injury, his previous attorneys suggestedthat his parents would be lucky to settle the case for $25,000 after working the case for nearly ayear. We settled the case for more than $5 million.
Strong Negotiating Is the Key
Negotiations in a personal injury case require a certain set of skills that cannot be acquiredovernight. The goal of negotiations in a personal injury claim is to settle for the highest amountpossible. It is important to remember that insurance adjusters are skilled negotiators. Insuranceadjusters are incentivized by their employers to reduce the value of your claim as much aspossible. An insurance adjuster is not working for you or looking out for your best interests. Heis trying to make money for his employer so he can get the next bonus or promotion. There areseveral important steps an accident victim can take to negotiate the highest possible settlement.
Submitting the Demand Letter
A "demand package" consists of a cover letter itemizing your losses and items of evidence(medical bills, pay stubs, body shop receipts, etc.) that serve as proof of your losses. It may behelpful to submit your demand package after the insurance adjuster makes his first offer. Itshould not surprise you that the offer that the adjuster presents is low or even insulting.Once you have seen that initial offer, do not accept it or seem eager to accept it. When you showthe other side that you are extremely motivated or in a hurry to accept a settlement, there is nomotivation for the adjuster to pay you a higher amount or move the negotiations along quickly.In your cover letter, total your damages and submit a specific number, a settlement demandamount. The other option would be to demand the total amount of the insured's coverage or whatis known as the "policy limit."A policy limit demand presents risks for the insurance adjuster if the demand is within reason.When you make a policy limit demand, you are making a demand that within the insurer's
liability limits and within the insurance company’s liability to pay. You are also exposing the
insurance company to the threat of a judgment that may exceed the policy's limits. This tactic cangive you the upper hand right away in negotiations. For example, if a jury awards $100,000 to anaccident victim although the insured's policy limit is only $50,000 the company would have topay the entire $100,000 or risk a much more expensive lawsuit for "insurance bad faith."
Demand More than What You Expect to Get