Navigating the negotiation process to obtain a settlement following a car crash in Phoenix AZ takes time and a great deal of patience. In a settlement, drivers may seek compensation for car damage, injury, and emotional distress. However, there are few steps to follow and pieces of advice to consider as you begin.
WHAT’S THE PROCESS FOR NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT IN ARIZONA?
The first thing you’ll need to do is write what’s known as a demand letter to the insurance company. In this letter, explain the compensation you need to cover the costs of your damages. Once the insurance company receives the letter, they will assign a claims adjustor so you can begin negotiations.
Keep in mind that as an employee of the insurance company, your claims adjuster’s job is to resolve the dispute as fast as he or she can while paying you as little money as possible. Adjusters are experienced hagglers who will try to prevent you from receiving money whenever possible. You may go through several rounds of back and forth counteroffers before arriving at a final compensation amount.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
The best negotiator is a prepared negotiator. You should study up on the insurance policy and come to the table armed with information to support your damages.
First, it’s smart to understand what the policy does and does not cover. Sometimes your claims adjuster isn’t rejecting the claim for no reason; you’ve just asked for something that isn’t allowed in the policy. The insurance policy’s declaration page will tell you te limits of coverage.
Once you understand the types of compensation you may pursue, it’s time to determine how much to ask for. Total all medical bills and other losses, such as lost employment and property damage.
Come up with a range for settlement, including the minimum payment you will accept. Make sure your adjustor never sees these numbers. Once you have a maximum in mind, write that amount in your demand letter. Aim high because insurance companies will not give anything away unless someone asks for it.
ADVICE FOR NEGOTIATING YOUR SETTLEMENT
Don’t be discouraged or insulted if your adjuster’s initial counteroffer is very low. Keep in mind that you’re dealing with professional negotiators who will use whatever tactics are at their disposal to keep your payout down. Your adjuster may even insinuate you were not injured or that you were hurt less than you claimed. Remember to stay calm and patient.
If your adjuster counters with an inappropriately low dollar amount, you should respond by re-emphasizing the amount of your losses. Take the adjuster’s response to heart, but don’t feel obligated to lower your offer. You may demand the insurance company explain why you are entitled to less compensation than the amount you have sought. The bills, receipts, and other documents you’ve collected as evidence will help you make your argument as you bargain for a settlement commensurate with your damages.
However, if your adjuster presents a more reasonable counteroffer, you may want to respond with an amount that’s less than your maximum amount but higher than what they’ve put on the table. This will show the insurance company that you’re willing to negotiate and reach some kind of compromise.
Negotiation takes time and more persistence than you expect. You and your insurance adjuster may go back and forth trying to arrive at a sum you and the company will agree on. Here are some factors to keep in mind as you barter for a final settlement amount and consider putting the matter before a judge:
- How much would it cost to bring the claim to court?
- Would you realistically stand to collect enough in court to justify the additional expense of a legal battle?
- How far apart is your demand and the insurance company’s offer?
STRATEGIES FOR NEGOTIATING AND ACCEPTING A FINAL OFFER
Negotiations could last weeks or even months. Insurance companies know you may be faced with onerous medical or car repair bills, and they are likely to have resources to wait you out. As frustrated as you may be, stay diligent. The company is obligated to respond to you in a timely manner, so keep interactions with your adjuster courteous. If you don’t hear from the insurance company for a few weeks, follow up on your case with them. Sometimes adjusters reassign cases or misplace items, which is another good reason to keep track of your documents and a record of your correspondence with them.
Once you reach an agreement, put the precise terms in a letter or other correspondence. The insurance company will send you a check and a release of liability letter in a few weeks. If you don’t understand everything in the release of liability letter, ask for clarification before you deposit the check or sign the release of liability form.
AN EXPERIENCED LAWYER CAN HELP
Negotiating a settlement from a car crash can be stressful and time-consuming. An experienced lawyer can help you press your claim. If you are unsure how to get the maximum settlement, contact our accident attorneys today for a free consultation.