Once the process for reaching a settlement gets under way, you and your lawyer must now formulate a solid strategy to reach a successful resolution. Below are some tips on how to get started.
1. Set a Goal for your Desired Settlement Amount
Arranging your settlement demand letter means that you’ve already decided on an amount or range you think defines your claim’s value. Before submitting your letter, you must first set the minimum settlement amount you would accept after your case is resolved. Once the figures and discussions go back and forth between your camp and the insurance adjuster, it helps having this bottom line at the back of your mind—it prevents you from making rash decisions when faced with a take-it-or-leave-it offer.
However, this figure is not guaranteed in any way, as the adjuster may raise some factors you or your lawyer may not have considered, reducing your claim’s strength. Conversely, you may find evidence that makes your claim stronger, meaning you should raise your minimum settlement amount.
2. Don’t Bite at the First offer
It’s standard procedure for insurance adjusters to start negotiations with a low settlement amount, even outright denying liability. This is simply how the game is played—your adjuster is trying to get a feel for your understanding of your claim’s worth and is evaluating how impatient you are to get settlement money.
Your response to the initial offer depends on whether it’s reasonable or too low. If it’s too low, emphasize your case’s strongest points and make a counter offer within the range of your demand amount—this leaves you with some bargaining room. If the offer is reasonable, make a counter offer slightly lower than your demand letter amount, which the adjuster will see as a show of faith and fairness.
3. Leverage “Pain Points” to your Advantage
Be sure to raise any “pain” or emotional points to support your claim. If your demand letter was accompanied with pictures of a serious injury or a totaled car (for motor accidents), refer to it. If the other side was found to have evidence of negligence, refer to it. If your injury drastically interfered with your quality of life, refer to it again. If your injury resulted in loss of work hours or employment, bring it up.
Although these are things you can’t exactly place a dollar value on, they are strong motivators for adjusters to meet your settlement demands.