Negotiating a personal injury settlement can involve some back and forth on the part of you (the plaintiff) and the defendant (usually an insurance company). This process allows you to avoid a drawn-out and expensive courtroom trial. Generally, the settlement process involves these simple steps:
- You send a demand letter to the insurance company, asking for your ideal settlement figure. This number may be a bit high, but it leaves you room to negotiate.
- The insurance adjuster responds with any factors that would decrease the amount you stand to receive, such as questions about liability, or certain unnecessary medical costs.
- You respond to these arguments as best as you are able to with supporting information and documentation.
- The insurance adjuster makes a lower counteroffer, typically as a way to feel out how big of a hurry you are in to get through the settlement negotiation process.
- You factor the adjuster’s arguments into your own research and then make another counteroffer that is a little lower than the initial offer you sent with your demand letter.
- You continue the back-and-forth negotiations until you arrive at an agreement.
- If you do not reach an agreement, your claim goes to trial.
Tips for successful negotiationThe steps you take during the settlement negotiation process can play a big role in making the process go smoothly. Here are a few basic tips that can help you find greater success in your negotiations:
- Stay organized: Make sure you constantly take notes during all your discussions with the insurance adjuster, and keep copies of all correspondence you send and receive. If you are requested to provide the adjuster with certain information, make sure to do it as quickly as possible.
- Be patient: Do not try to hurry through the negotiation process—doing so could mean you do not end up with as much compensation as you could receive by waiting out the process and making counteroffers.
- Keep fighting: Persistence is key to a successful settlement negotiation. Do not let the adjuster let your case fall to the bottom of the pile. Make sure they stick to the established timeline, and feel free to regularly check in about the status of your case. Staying in your adjuster’s world keeps the case fresh in their mind and ensures a quicker resolution.
- Be polite: Remain calm and straightforward at all times, and be polite and pleasant to deal with. Adjusters are much more likely to agree to a favorable deal if they enjoy talking and working with you.