If you’ve been in a car accident, slip and fall, or workplace injury, you may be preparing to file a claim with the insurance company.
This is great – it means you’re taking steps to hold the at-fault party accountable for their negligence. in fact, it means that he is ready to demand the compensation he deserves for his suffering and losses.
If you are determined to seek fair compensation for your losses, you should be prepared to negotiate with the insurance company (or, more specifically, the claims adjuster) to get what you need. you want. .
As a professional personal injury attorney, I have helped countless clients negotiate with insurance claims adjusters to obtain the compensation they deserve. And in this article, I will share 5 steps to start the settlement negotiation process. I’ll also explain what to keep in mind during the negotiation process if you decide to talk to an adjuster on your own.
Remember, the more effective you are in negotiating a settlement with an insurance claims adjuster, the higher settlement offer you are likely to get.
what is an insurance claims adjuster?
A claims adjuster is someone who works for the insurance company to determine liability.
The insurance adjuster’s job is to investigate damages resulting from accidents to people and property. Based on what they find during their investigation, they will determine the extent of the insurance company’s liability.
In a personal injury case, an adjuster will investigate the claim and determine if (and to what extent) the claimant’s injuries are eligible for insurance coverage (either under your policy or the at-fault party’s policy).
If the insurance adjuster finds coverage for your accident, they will begin an investigation phase to assess the extent of this coverage.
The investigation phase may include:
interviews with witnesses
an injury or property damage inspection
review of medical records and accident reports, and any other relevant material.
Once the adjuster has finished investigating a claim, they will write a damage report detailing the total financial losses related to your accident. The information in this report will be used to initiate the claims settlement process.
start the process of negotiating the agreement (5 steps)
Now that you understand what the role of a claims adjuster is, let’s discuss how to begin the settlement negotiation process.
The process begins with the filing of your claim.
Step 1: File an Insurance Claim
Regardless of the circumstances of your accident, the first step in negotiating an insurance settlement is determining where to file the insurance claim.
If you were involved in a car accident, there are a few ways you may choose to file a lawsuit.
Please note that according to the Louisiana Department of Insurance, driving without insurance can result in fines. And if you are in an uninsured car accident, even if the other driver was at fault, you may be prohibited from collecting certain amounts of compensation.
If you live in a no-fault state, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident: always file a claim with your own insurance company.
if you live in an at-fault state such as louisiana, the injured party is responsible for filing a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company.
or, if you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, then you will typically file an insurance claim with the commercial property insurance company.
Remember, although filing a claim is a necessary step in the process and you need the help of the adjuster, the insurance company is not on your side. it is your responsibility to stay organized and negotiate as efficiently as possible.
Step 2: Consolidate Your Records
After you file your claim, the next step is to organize your records.
To defend yourself when negotiating with an adjuster, you’ll want to have an organized record of all the files and documents related to your accident.
This is important because you will rely on these documents as evidence during negotiations. Having all of the available evidence at your fingertips, in chronological order, is how you will build your case and win.
Examples of relevant evidence may include:
police reports or accident reports
property damage quotes
photographs of injuries or vehicle damage
auto repair estimates
As a general rule, any material that may be used for validation purposes on your injury settlement should be kept on file.
The more evidence you can use to defend your position, the greater the chance of a successful resolution of your insurance settlement.
Step 3: Calculate the minimum settlement amount
Once you’ve filed your claim and organized your records, it’s time for you to estimate the true value of your claim (as best you can, anyway).
You can estimate the value of your claim by reviewing your records and considering the financial implications of:
expenses related to the accident and injury
pain and suffering
In this step, you’re going over anything that could possibly have a monetary value attached to it. if it cost you money directly or affected your ability to earn an income, add it to your calculations.
once you have made an estimate, you will need to send a demand letter to the insurance company demanding fair compensation.
A demand letter is a formal letter that describes all of the damages you sustained as a result of your accident. The purpose of your demand letter is to defend the compensation to which you are entitled. be sure to include as many details as you can about the accident.
In detail, describe the injuries, the medical treatment you received, and any other losses, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress as a result of your accident.
While you’re waiting to receive a settlement offer from the insurance adjuster, think about a minimum settlement amount.
This number should not be shared.
Instead, keep this number in mind when you start negotiating with the adjuster: it’s the number you should refuse to lower.
Step 4: Reject the claims adjuster’s first settlement offer
In most cases, the adjuster will respond with a minimum settlement offer after your demand letter.
This is a normal, yet frustrating, part of the claim process.
Don’t be surprised if your first offer seems almost absurdly low. Adjusters will often employ this as a tactic to test your negotiating skills and see if you know the value of your claim.
Your claim may have been perfectly reasonable, but remember: adjusters work for the insurance company. It’s in the adjuster’s interest to limit the scope of your company’s liability and use your lack of legal knowledge to pay you less.
If they can detect a vulnerability or exploit your lack of knowledge, they will try to do so.
My advice is to respond to your rejection letter with a counter offer. In a follow-up letter, you can press the adjuster for more details about your valuation and explain your reason for rejecting your initial offer.
let’s be clear; once he rejects your first offer, negotiations begin. now is the time to defend your claim for fair compensation using all the evidence at your disposal.
step 5: emphasize the strongest points in your favor
The goal of your negotiation efforts is to reach an agreement with the insurance company and get it in writing.
To do that, you must be reasonable and fair, while emphasizing the seriousness of the accident and your injuries.
You want to get the best result possible without dragging out negotiations forever.
To do that, to achieve the optimal result and liquidation value, focus on the strongest points in your favor. leave uncertainties and irrelevant facts out of the discussion.
For example, if you were involved in a car accident, be sure to repeatedly reiterate how the other driver was at fault.
Emphasize the pain and suffering of your injury.
List the costs of all medical bills you had to pay to treat your injury.
list any long-term physical effects that could likely result from your accident.
When you emphasize the strongest points in your favor, one after another, and back them up with records, evidence, or research, you have a better chance of defending your position.
It also shows the adjuster that you are a capable negotiator, one who should not be taken advantage of with low offers.
what to expect during the negotiation process
So far we have covered the first 5 steps to take when preparing to negotiate an injury settlement.
Now let’s discuss some general, but no less important, considerations to keep in mind when dealing with insurance claims adjusters.
first, time is of the essence
As soon as your accident occurs, the clock starts ticking.
In a sense, there is a literal amount of time in which you must take action to push for a fair settlement (the statute of limitations in louisiana is only one year).
on the other hand, the negotiations themselves can take time.
There are many steps (at least 5 as you have already learned) to keep track of during the process and even more records and documents that you will accumulate along the way.
My best advice is to start the process as soon as the accident has occurred and you have sought medical treatment. Be sure to consolidate your records into evidence early in the process to ensure all details are accounted for.
The more clarity you have about the entire accident, the better.
To take advantage of time as an ally, add a deadline to your demand letter specifying the date the adjuster has to accept your offer. this simple act will show them that you mean business and will not stand for “time running out.” they won’t even try.
Second, be careful what you say to the adjuster
yes, what you say can hurt you.
make no mistake; your claims adjuster is looking for every opportunity to use what you say against you. adjusters are looking for ways to lower your injury claim and save the insurance company some money at your expense.
It is always important to be honest about your circumstances. But to make sure you don’t say something you’ll regret, refrain from admitting any blame if you can.
Instead, remember to emphasize the seriousness of the accident and the painful injuries you sustained.
the adjuster is looking for ways to blame or downplay the severity of your accident and your injuries; do not allow it.
Third, the adjuster doesn’t want you to hire a lawyer
One of the greatest advantages a loss adjuster has is knowledge.
An insurance company employee understands the law in ways you probably don’t. The adjuster will use their gap in knowledge to try to swindle you out of a minimum settlement amount. this is your game. unfortunately, it’s one you must play in order to receive the compensation you deserve for your losses.
Just like an interrogation scene in a detective drama, the adjuster is an expert at knowing what to say and do to make you say the wrong thing. As long as the insurance company takes care of you alone, they have the upper hand.
Fortunately, you don’t have to negotiate alone. An experienced personal injury attorney is all you need to put the power back in your hands and fight for your rights with confidence. When you have a lawyer who knows all the rules, you can use that knowledge to win the game.
A personal injury attorney will deal with insurance companies on your behalf, knowing all the loopholes and tactics they use to avoid having to pay you money.
In addition, an experienced attorney with years of experience can negotiate for you and achieve a more favorable dollar value for your settlement claim.
Get your free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney
Negotiating a settlement agreement requires a great deal of patience and persistence. And if a settlement cannot be reached, it may be time to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. Contact Law Bruscato today for legal advice on how to effectively negotiate your settlement and win.
Whether you’re considering filing a claim or have already started the process, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation with the Bruscato Law Firm. As an experienced personal injury attorney, I am fortunate to serve as a legal resource for clients throughout Monroe and the surrounding areas.