Negotiating a Personal Injury Settlement
When you’ve been injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, it is your right to bring that person to civil court to prove why they should compensate you for your injuries. That doesn’t mean a trial will be easy. Most people who have been injured aren’t rushing to get involved with a complicated and stressful legal battle that could last months, or even years. If you want to avoid going to court, you can try to negotiate a settlement agreement with the defendant.
Create Your Expectations
When you bring a personal injury claim, you will likely negotiate your settlement with either an attorney or an insurance adjuster. Before you begin negotiations, you should have an idea of how much your claim is worth, how much you want, and the smallest amount you’re willing to take. You can do self research for this, but the best way to estimate the value of your claim is by speaking with a personal injury attorney in Chandler. You and the attorney can go over the details of your case and the Chandler personal injury attorney will use their past experience to project how your claim will fare. You may need to visit at least one medical specialist before valuing your claim to determine medical costs, both currently and in the future.
Pay Attention to the Statute of Limitations
A personal injury case can be dismissed if it isn’t brought soon enough after the injury. In Arizona, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is 2 years. Statutes of limitations vary by state, so consult with a Chandler personal injury attorney of that state if your accident occurred outside of Arizona. You will have no bargaining power to negotiate a settlement if the statute of limitations has passed.
Gather Evidence Supporting Your Position
Usually, an insurance company isn’t going to offer you a landslide settlement right from the start. Photos, videos, and witness testimony showing how terrible the incident was will strengthen your argument that you need compensation for pain and suffering. You can also use items that were bloodied or damaged during the accident, your medical treatment records, police reports stating the defendant is at fault, the defendant’s cell phone records (if suspected of causing an accident by using the phone while driving), and the defendant’s driving and criminal record.
Documenting how painful the injury was, how it has impacted your career, how strenuous your recovery has been, how egregious the defendant’s conduct was, and your current and future potential expenses may help you leverage a bigger settlement.
Get Settlement Offers in Writing
While calls from insurance adjusters are typically recorded, it is best to have some written documentation of any oral settlement offers you receive. Not only will this hold the defendant accountable, but it will allow you to keep better track of where you are in the negotiations, and if it is time to compromise and settle.
The First Offer
When negotiating a settlement offer, the defendant’s representative may make the first offer to you, or you may send the defendant a demand letter. A first offer made to you will likely be much lower than your goal. If the offer isn’t too far off from your goal, you may simply counteroffer. If the other side rejects your proposal, you can meet somewhere in the middle. If you aren’t willing to compromise, ask the reasoning behind why the offer is so low. The adjuster may move closer to your offer, or point out weaknesses in your case that you didn’t previously notice. If you are offered a number much higher than your goal, don’t immediately take the bait. You may have underestimated the value of your case.
Don’t Forget About Possible Future Symptoms
Especially with head and neck injuries, the patient may show little to no damage immediately after the accident, but suffer painful symptoms at some point in the future. Your doctor should tell you if there are symptoms you should be monitoring. If your insurance adjuster breaks down the structure of their settlement offer, make sure they have included something for future medical costs and pain and suffering. Injuries like whiplash may take years to develop. If you can wait to collect on your claim, you can tell the insurance adjuster you’d like to wait until closer to the 2 years statute of limitations to settle your claim to make sure more symptoms don’t appear.
Hiring an Injury Attorney
Just like you should go to a doctor to treat your injuries after an accident instead of treating yourself, it is better to hire a Chandler personal injury attorney to handle the legal ramifications of your injury. Having an attorney representing you will immediately let the insurance company know that you’re serious about pursuing your claim.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingent basis, meaning that if they win your case, they will receive a previously agreed upon portion of your settlement. This is typically 20-35 percent, depending on the facts of your case and your attorney’s experience and reputation. If the attorney loses your case, they are paid nothing. You should be able to find Chandler personal injury attorneys who you can have an initial consultation with for free.
Once you have retained a personal injury attorney serving Chandler, you can let any insurance adjusters or defense attorneys who call you know that they need to contact your attorney of record. You will still receive filings and notifications from the court about your case, but your Arizona personal injury attorney will as well and will likely already be working on addressing any issue before you’re even notified. With an attorney handling all correspondence, legal research, drafting, and negotiating for your case, you will have more time to focus on your recovery.
If you’re looking for expert Arizona personal injury representation with free consultations and contingency based payment, you’ve come to the right place. Don’t accept a settlement offer that is lower than you deserve, or let your claim proceed to a drawn out and stressful trial. Call Chandler Injury Lawyers to schedule your free phone consultation with one of our attorneys today.