You got a settlement offer from the car insurance company after your car accident, but the offer seems too low. This is a common situation since the job of an insurance adjuster involves trying to save their company money. A low settlement offer doesn't mean you need to take it. This article discusses what to do to try to reach a fair settlement.
Analyze the First Offer
An insurance adjuster's offer is based on many elements of your claim. A low settlement offer might be due to many possible issues. The insurer may not have all the information about your injuries, medical bills, or property damage. They might feel they have a good chance of winning a court case because of the circumstances surrounding your accident. There could be evidence of contributory negligence on your part.
A low initial settlement offer may also be a simple settlement negotiation tactic. Look at the information sent to the insurer to help you better understand the insurance adjuster's position. This improves your chances of negotiating or winning a higher amount. It's wise to review your written response with a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you don't undermine the value of your claim with the statements you provide.
Send a Written Response
A written response to the first settlement offer can better develop your insurance claim or personal injury case. Request information about the insurer's reasoning in the initial car accident settlement amount. If insufficient documentation is the issue, you can submit the following in your reply:
- Police reports
- More medical records
- Bills for medical treatment
- Medical expenses or repair estimates
A written response is an opportunity to develop the emotional and psychological aspects of your car accident claim. This typically doesn't receive much attention in initial demand letters. The negative impacts of your accident injuries, such as the loss of consortium with your spouse, lost work, and pain and suffering are difficult to quantify. The insurance company's initial assessment and insurance policy undervalues non-economic damages.
Consult a car accident lawyer for legal advice to avoid disclosing more than necessary to the insurance claims adjuster. Accident victims with serious injuries can experience a more complex claims process.
Make a Counteroffer
Rather than refuse an insufficient settlement it can be helpful to respond with a counteroffer. A counteroffer is an amount you consider to be appropriate and fair compensation. The insurance adjuster may accept your counteroffer. Or they may continue the negotiations by sending a counteroffer of their own. This kind of back-and-forth exchange repeats many times until reaching an amount acceptable to both parties.
Take Them to Court
You can file a lawsuit when the insurance settlement offer is too low. You can also file a lawsuit if attempts at discussion and negotiation fail. Starting an injury suit doesn't necessarily mean that negotiations are over. However, take into consideration the value of your case and the policy limits to determine if it is truly worth pursuing a lawsuit which could become costly.
An insurance adjuster unwilling to compromise may suddenly become more reasonable when their company begins to accrue the expense of a court case. Or the insurance company faces the possibility of a judgment against them. But a lawsuit exposes you to the risk of losing your case. Plus, the additional expense of litigation might mean the insurance company is less willing to reach a settlement. Remember your legal expenses are deducted from the settlement amount if you win.
Regardless of how you proceed, responding when the car insurance settlement offer is too low requires a careful and rational analysis of your situation. It requires clear and well-considered communication between yourself and the auto insurance company as well.
Is Your Auto Accident Insurance Claim Settlement Too Low? Talk to an Attorney Today
Negotiation is an art. Insurers keep teams of professionals on staff to protect their bottom line. This includes negotiating personal injury settlements for less than the policy limit. Hiring a competent personal injury attorney will ensure a fair and balanced car accident case evaluation.
An auto accident attorney will:
- Review the statute of limitations
- Verify state laws on medical care coverage
- Evaluate the likelihood of success for your personal injury claims
Contact a local motor vehicle accident attorney today before accepting a lowball settlement offer.