While not all car accidents cause serious injuries, even minor ones can lead to significant costs and challenges for everyone involved. For example, damage to your client's vehicle may require costly repairs. And while the car is out of commission, your client may need to rent another vehicle or take public transportation. Moreover, your client’s injuries may require expensive medical treatments and force them to miss work and lose wages. They may also suffer non-economic losses, such as diminished quality of life or loss of companionship.
Given these burdens, your client may want to file a car accident lawsuit in order to secure compensation for the losses they suffered. In the United States, the majority of such lawsuits wind up in settlements between the victims and the negligent drivers’ auto insurers. To help you achieve the best car accident settlement for your client, consider the following tips when negotiating with the other party.
A well-documented claim will give your client better chances of achieving a favorable settlement.
1. Ensure your client seeks medical treatment immediately
Even if your client feels fine, they should get medical attention as soon as possible after the car accident. Otherwise, the insurer could say that your client wasn’t as seriously injured as reported or did not suffer any injury at all. Getting prompt medical treatment will also produce crucial medical evidence to support your client’s claim since it details your client’s injuries and physical restrictions.
2. Decide on a minimum settlement amount beforehand
Your client can seek compensatory damages for the following:
- Property damage – costs related to replacement or repairs if the accident led to damages to personal property
- Medical expenses – costs related to use of ambulance, hospital stay, laboratory exams, X-rays and other medical images, medications, surgeries, necessary in-home care, medical appointments, prosthetic devices, rehabilitation, and cognitive therapies
- Loss of wages – costs related to missed work due to the victim’s injuries and/or recovery treatments
- Pain and suffering – costs related to recovery from the pain and suffering caused by the accident
After computing how much your client’s claim is worth, make sure that you and your client agree on a minimum settlement amount before meeting with the insurance adjuster. This amount is not something you’d reveal to the adjuster. Just keep it in mind to help you stay focused before the volley of offers and counteroffers begins.
However, this does not mean that you should cling to that initial figure. If the adjuster points out facts you had not considered and makes your client’s claim weaker, you may need to pull down your minimum settlement amount. But if the adjuster’s offer is near your minimum or if you discover evidence that makes your client’s claim stronger, you may consider increasing your ask.
Related reading: 3 Tips for medical record retrieval after a car accident
3. Don’t jump at the first offer
Once the insurance adjuster has made their first offer, your response should depend on how reasonable it is. Adjusters typically start negotiations by offering a very low amount. They do this to gauge your patience and determine whether you understand how much your client’s claim is worth. If their offer is very low, ask the adjuster to provide detailed explanations for their offer. Respond to each argument and then wait to see if the adjuster will budge before you lower your demand. Do not reduce your demand more than once until the adjuster has given a new offer.
If the first offer is reasonable, you can make a counteroffer that’s slightly lower than the amount in your demand letter. This shows the adjuster that you’re willing to negotiate.
4. Prepare strong documentation
Make sure that you’ve collected copies of all paperwork related to your client’s case including:
- Police report on the car accident
- Photographs and/or diagrams of the accident
- Medical records detailing your client’s injuries and treatment
- Related medical bills
- Client’s medical history
- Work restriction slip issued by the treating healthcare provider
- Wage slips and other proof of your employment
- Photographs and reports on property damage
- Proof of repair or replacement expenses incurred due to property damage
A well-documented claim will give your client better chances of achieving a favorable settlement. However, obtaining all relevant paperwork can be challenging. The good news is that you can outsource that task to Record Retrieval Solutions.
We have provided hundreds of lawyers and law firms with quick and easy access to medical records and other documents. This enables them to focus on more valuable work and settle claims and cases faster. Get in touch with us to get started.