How to Negotiate a Full and Fair Settlement after an Auto Accident
When someone is injured in a car accident, it can be a devastating event. Medical bills can pile up, and injury victims are often forced to miss work for an extended period of time. On top of that, there is the untold physical pain and emotional distress you have to deal with when you face the uncertainty of not knowing when your life will return to normal.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to obtain just compensation after being injured in an auto accident. It is extremely rare that the driver responsible for the injuries will freely admit fault and write you a check to cover all of your losses. In most cases, you will need to file an injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company, which will usually result in having to negotiate a settlement.
When you are trying to negotiate a full and fair settlement after a car accident, there are two very important things you need to know about the insurance company:
- Their adjusters are trained negotiators who deal with claims like yours for a living; and
- The insurance company is not on your side.
They may act friendly and try to reassure you that you will be “taken care of”, but the goal of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible for your auto accident claim. As such, their interests are not aligned with yours. You must keep this in mind as you enter into negotiations with them.
To obtain the best results when negotiating with an insurance company, here are some best practices you should follow:
When you enter into the injury claims process, you need to be patient and ready to wait a while before you receive a settlement check. Insurance companies know that finances are usually tight for individuals who have been injured in a car accident, and they will often try to use this fact to their advantage by presenting a quick settlement offer. The problem is that this offer is usually for significantly less than your claim is worth. Do not accept the first offer you receive, especially so-called “one-time offers” that you are given a deadline to accept. This is a negotiation, so be ready for some back and forth offers and counteroffers before you arrive at a figure you can accept.
Follow Doctor’s Orders
From the time you file an accident injury claim, the insurance company will be watching you very carefully. Be sure to follow your doctor’s orders and refrain from any physical activity that is prohibited. Also make sure to follow through on all of your required treatments. You have a duty to mitigate your losses by not doing anything to make your injuries worse, and this may include failing to obtain necessary treatments during a reasonable period of time.
Have a Target Amount in Mind that You are Willing to Accept
During any negotiation, it is best to come up with a bottom-line dollar amount that you would be willing to take as a settlement from the insurance company. In arriving at this figure, be sure to calculate the full extent of your injuries, medical costs, time missed from work, and the time you expect to miss from work in the future. Also be sure to account for intangibles such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and diminished quality of life. This amount is strictly for your own information, but it will serve as a guideline to help you know if you are on track during the negotiation process.
Keep a Low Profile
While you are in negotiating an auto accident claim, it is a good idea to “go dark” from social media until the process is over. Insurance companies pay very close attention to what claimants post on social media these days; and if you are not careful, you might post something that could be damaging to your claim. You may think you are okay because you have very strict privacy settings, but electronic information has a way of surfacing despite our best efforts to keep it private. This is why it is strongly advisable to say as little as possible online while you are trying to settle your claim.
Beware of Stalling Tactics
If negotiations are at an impasse and you do not appear to be close to settling, the insurance company may be the one to “go dark”. This is a tactic that is intended to frustrate you into accepting a lower offer than you deserve. At the same time, the insurer also knows that there is a three-year statute of limitations in Mississippi for most personal injury lawsuits, and by delaying your claim, they can eventually run out the clock on your deadline for taking the case to court. Three years may seem like a long time in the beginning, but it can go by fast when the insurance company is not communicating with you for several months at a time.
Hire a Skilled Mississippi Car Accident Lawyer
Auto accident claims can get very complex, especially when there are multiple parties that could be at fault, disputes over who was to blame, unfair denials of coverage by the insurance company, and other complicated factors. This can make it very difficult to negotiate a full and fair settlement on your own. With so much at stake, it only makes sense to have an experienced attorney in your corner who is looking out for your best interests and fighting hard for every dollar of compensation you deserve.
If your accident occurred in Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Ocean Springs, or anywhere in Southern Mississippi, contact the Gardner Law Firm to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. Call our office today at (228) 900-9618 or message us through our online contact form.