In previous posts, I gave you insight on the best way to initiate a claim for injuries incurred in a car accident. Read on to discover how a lawyer negotiates compensation for your injuries and what happens once a settlement is reached.
Letter of Demand
As we previously discussed, patiently waiting to know the permanent effects of your injuries is essential in maximizing the compensation you will receive. After collecting all the information about your injuries, your lawyer will write a demand letter to start negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. This letter explains:
- Why the other person is responsible for your injuries
- The extent of your injuries and how you’re likely to be affected by them in the future
- What type of medical treatment you’ve had and need to have in the future and how much it will cost
- Current and future income losses
- Any other damages you’ve suffered as a result of the accident
The settlement package sent to the adjuster includes all the documentation you’ve given your lawyer to support your claim. This letter demands a specific sum of money to settle your claim. You and your lawyer already have an idea of how much your claim is worth. The amount demanded may be much higher than that because it allows room to negotiate downward as talks with the insurance company continue.
It may take a month or two for the insurance company to respond to your lawyer’s initial demand letter. Insurance companies have many layers of management. They will all be involved in responding and approving things. Negotiations will likely move very slowly, as your lawyer and the adjuster talk back and forth.
The adjuster will probably make an offer to settle your claim for far less than the amount you requested in your demand letter. Your lawyer then suggests an amount lower than your original demand but higher than the adjuster’s offer. This process continues until your lawyer and the adjuster hit on a settlement everyone can live with.
Your lawyer and the insurance adjuster have come to an agreement on how much you’ll be paid. When you receive the settlement check, you have to sign a written document saying you won’t seek any more money from the company for your claim. This is called a release. Your lawyer can help you read through this release and answer any questions you may have about what the release covers.
Your lawyer takes her attorney’s fees first out of the settlement money. Then she deducts your case’s expenses. What’s left is your payment. You should expect your lawyer to give you a detailed accounting of any costs deducted from your payment. Your lawyer should answer any questions you may have about how the fee was calculated.
The large majority of insurance claims are settled at the adjuster level. If your lawyer and the insurance adjuster are unable to settle your case, however, it will be necessary to take it to trial.