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May 12th, 2019

Getting a Fair Settlement: What You Need to Know

Being injured in an accident—especially if it’s not your fault—is emotionally and physically distressing, as well as often taking a huge financial toll. For the vast majority of people, the only thing on their minds is getting fair compensation and getting their life back on track.

Unfortunately, getting this fair compensation isn’t always easy, especially when you’re up against big businesses and profit-seeking insurance companies. Whether you need a car accident attorney or are doing it alone, these tips will help you in the fight—and help you get a settlement that lets you live your life again.

Managing Your Expectations

What’s “fair” is different to everybody, so it’s important to understand how much you could possibly receive when you’re making a claim. Although this will just be an estimate, it will help you manage your expectations and also help you mentally set an achievable sum for reference during negotiations.

Start off with the obvious, like adding up medical expenses, medically required transport and accommodation, and lost earnings. You can then modify that amount based on certain factors, like:

  • Whether your injuries are hard (broken bones, nerve damage, head trauma, etc.) or soft (bruises, strains, or sprains)
  • Whether your injuries are temporary or permanent
  • Whether you’ve spent more money on diagnosis or treatment, and how much medical attention you’ve needed
  • The disruption to your regular life, including missed events and employment opportunities
  • Whether you’ve been prescribed medicine or not
  • How much ongoing and future emotional pain and suffering you have

Helping Your Case

From the moment you’ve been injured, there are a number of things you can do to help your future case. They might seem minor at the time, but they could be crucial later during negotiations or trials.

This includes:

  • Staying calm and keeping organized with all evidence and interactions
  • Collecting as much evidence as possible, including reports, expense receipts, and photographs
  • Identifying potential witnesses at the scene of the accident, and getting their contact information
  • Never admitting fault either verbally or in writing
  • Never signing a document without fully understanding it
  • Not making any comments about the accident on social media

Settlement Without a Lawyer

As a way of avoiding fees, approaching the settlement negotiation yourself can seem like an attractive option, especially if the expected amount is small or the injury was minor.

If you do choose this method, be aware that, unless it’s a very clear-cut case, the defendant and their insurer will have the experience and upper hand in negotiations. If you’re confident, then the steps are generally as follows:

  • Calculate your desired/expected settlement
  • Collect evidence and determine the facts of the case
  • Send a demand letter to the insurance carrier
  • Undertake negotiations

When negotiating, some good tactics include:

  • Aiming high with your initial demand
  • Not accepting the first offer by the insurance company
  • Requesting written reasons for their offer and sending an itemized rebuttal
  • Waiting for a counter offer each time before reducing your demand or responding

When to Find a Vehicle Accident Lawyer

If you’re not confident with your negotiating skills, or you’ve determined that your claim would be over a few thousand dollars, it’s probably best to consult with an attorney. The top personal injury lawyers will know exactly what to do to maximize your claim, advise you about what to expect, and know whether it’s worth the risk taking the case to trial.

With over 100 years of combined experience, Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers knows exactly what it takes to get you fair compensation. Every case our personal injury focused attorneys handle is about getting what’s best for our clients and about finding an outcome you’re happy with.

Not sure what’s fair for you? Contact us today for a free, confidential case evaluation and to find out how we can help—and, remember: If we don’t win, you don’t pay!

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