Have you been hurt in a car accident? Dealing with the consequences of a car accident can be overwhelming for some people. However, some individuals with minor injuries may want to negotiate directly with the insurance company for the other driver. We advise that you always utilize our free consultation to obtain legal advice before you proceed; however, below are the steps you would take if you want to negotiate a settlement after being hurt in a car accident.
Step One: File Your Claim
If you have been hurt in a car accident, file your claim with the other driver’s insurance company as soon as possible. You should be assigned a claim number and an adjuster who will handle your car accident claim. However, be very careful about providing statements, signing medical releases, or signing any release. Something you say or sign could potentially hurt your claim.
While you can negotiate with the insurance company directly when you are hurt in a car accident, many people choose to let an attorney handle this because they do not have the experience necessary to avoid pitfalls such as providing recorded and written statements or signing blanket medical releases.
Step Two: Keep Accurate and Complete Records
In order to properly value your claim when you are hurt in a car accident, you must have proof of your damages. Keep copies of all documents related to your car crash including copies of the police report, medical bills, receipts, medical records, and any other document relevant to your claim.
Step Three: Proving Fault
In order to receive compensation for your injuries from being hurt in a car accident, you must prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident. The police report may give you some information; however, eyewitness testimony is strong evidence. Photographs from the accident scene and video, if available, can also be sources of strong evidence.
Gather all evidence you can to prove that the other driver was at fault. If the insurance company denies fault, you should stop negotiating and contact a car accident attorney immediately.
Step Four: Calculating a Demand for Settlement
In order to negotiate effectively with the insurance company, you must know what your claim is worth. When you are hurt in a car accident, you suffer emotional and financial damages in addition to your physical damages. Indiana personal injury laws state you should be compensated for these damages if the other driver is at fault. Calculating a demand for settlement is one of the most crucial steps in settling a car accident claim.
When calculating the value of your accident claim, include items such as:
- All medical bills
- All lost wages
- Estimates for future medical bills and lost wages if your injury will require ongoing treatment and/or prevent you from returning to work or earning the same amount as before the accident
- Property damage
- Compensation for your physical pain and emotional suffering
- Any other out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries
Based on the information you gather to support your claim, determine the minimum amount you are willing to accept to settle your claim. If you are in doubt about what a fair and just settlement is for your claim, you should stop and contact an experienced car accident attorney. Our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience valuing car accident claims to maximize the amount of compensation the injured victim receives from the insurance company.
Step Five: Present a Settlement Demand to the Insurance Company
When you have completed all medical treatments and the doctor tells you that you have reached maximum medical recovery (further treatment will not improve your current state), it is time to propose a settlement to the insurance company.
Write a letter to the insurance company laying out the evidence proving the other driver was at fault for the accident; how being hurt in a car accident has negatively impacted your daily life; how your injuries will change your future; and the actual monetary amount of your medical bills, property damages, lost wages, and out of pocket expenses (include copies of bills, receipts, and proof of loss of income).
Begin by asking for no less than double to triple what you would be willing to accept for settlement so that you have room to negotiate a final amount. Include all evidence you have to back up your claim and send the letter to the insurance adjuster. When the insurance adjuster contacts you with an offer, do not accept the first offer unless it is for your full settlement amount in your demand letter which is highly unlikely. Remember, this is a negotiation. Do not propose a lower amount — politely explain you believe your claim is worth more and wait to see if the adjuster will increase the offer.
However, if the first offer is reasonable, you may want to counteroffer with an amount a little above what you are willing to accept. If you counteroffer, you must be willing to accept that amount. Negotiating a car accident claim is a skill developed over time dealing with insurance companies. An experienced car accident attorney can help you receive the maximum amount allowable under the law by using his experience gained through years of handling personal injury cases.
Know When to Contact a Car Accident Attorney
If the insurance company is pushing you to accept a settlement lower than the amount you believe to be fair or the insurance company is unwilling to act in a fair manner, you need an attorney. Many insurance companies take advantage of injury victims who do not have attorneys because they know the injury victims have bills to pay and need a quick settlement. This often results in the injury victim receiving much less than the true value of the claim
We offer a free legal consultation so there is nothing to lose by getting our advice before you try to handle a car accident claim on your own. Call The Ken Nunn Law Office at 1-800-CALL-KEN or 1-800-225-5536 to schedule your free consultation.