What to Do When Offered a Small Settlement
When you are injured in an accident, you should keep the receipts of your medical expenses, car repair costs and others so that you can know how much compensation to demand from the responsible party. This amount will then be communicated in writing to the insurer of the party responsible for your injury.
In most cases, the insurance company will respond with a counter offer. The insurance company will investigate your case to determine whether you need to be compensated, and will usually propose a lower settlement. If this happens, do not panic, or feel pressured to give in. Most personal injury lawyers will tell you that this is a ploy commonly used by insurance companies to get you to accept the lower settlement. Instead of accepting the settlement, this is what you should do:
i) Analyze the offer without letting emotions cloud your judgment.
The way your case will progress will depend on how you respond to the offer provided by the insurance company. You should therefore think carefully before responding to the offer. Do not be outraged with the offer, no matter how small it is. The insurance company will be looking to find out whether you are desperate for money and will know this by the way you react to the offer.
ii) Respond in writing
Your accident lawyer will first want to know why the insurance company offered a smaller settlement before proceeding with the next step. For example, the insurance company may point out that the evidence provided is not sufficient to determine your innocence in the accident.
After knowing the reasons for the smaller counter offer, your attorney will know how to build your case to ensure you get a fair settlement before responding to the insurance company. It is advisable that this response be submitted in writing, and should address the gaps pointed out by the insurance adjuster.
iii) Formulate a counter offer
When responding to the insurance company, you lawyer will address any issues raised before and propose a lower settlement than you had requested in the first communication. This is the negotiation game, and each side should be prepared to give a little.
The insurance adjuster will then also respond either in agreement or with another counter offer. This is what usually happens at the negotiation stage of injury cases.
iv) The agreement should be done in writing
Once both sides agree to a settlement amount, and then ensure that this agreement is written down and that your personal injury lawyer retains a copy. The amount you will be paid will be indicated in the agreement.
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