The process of settling your personal injury claim can be immensely stressful. You are already concerned about your working status, and now you have to negotiate with the insurance company to determine the settlement in your case. You must take the time to learn about negotiations and work with a qualified personal injury lawyer to ensure optimal representation.
The Clardy Law team has decades of experience representing clients in personal injury settlement cases. In this post, we’ll explain how to reject and counter a low settlement offer so you get the compensation you deserve.
The Mistakes Made in Settling a Claim
Before we discuss the process of rejecting an offer and presenting your settlement counteroffer, it’s vital to go over the mistakes often made within this process. Making a mistake now may mean you’re unable to afford treatment, or you won’t have the financial means to pay for day-to-day necessities. Try to avoid making the following mistakes during your settlement negotiations:
Not Being Honest with the Insurance Company
There’s a point at which you can provide too much information to the insurance company, but make sure you are completely honest with the information provided. Any potential dishonesty can be treated as fraud and may involve legal action against you.
While it’s essential to be honest, providing a comprehensive and accurate account of the accident, your injuries, and the resulting damages is equally important. Providing vague or inconsistent information can undermine your credibility during negotiations.
To support your claim and substantiate the extent of your injuries and damages, gather as much evidence as possible. This may include photographs of the accident scene, medical records, police reports, witness statements, and other relevant documents. Clear and well-organized evidence can strengthen your position when rejecting a low offer.
Providing Direct Access to Medical Records Immediately
You should only sign off on releasing your medical records if you’re near the end of your treatment process. Only at the end of this process can you calculate the real pain and suffering that resulted from your injuries. The information provided within your medical records can then be used in your demand letter when requesting a settlement from the insurance company.
Discussing Pre-Existing Injuries
Another mistake many make when trying to reach a settlement with an auto accident or personal injury insurance company is discussing pre-existing injuries. If you highlight past injuries to your claims adjuster, they may present you with a lower-than-acceptable offer and suggest that your current injury is merely the exacerbation of your past injury.
- Completion of medical treatment: Wait until you’ve reached a point in your medical treatment where your healthcare provider believes you’ve either fully recovered or have stabilized to the extent that further significant medical improvements are unlikely. This ensures you clearly understand the long-term effects of your injuries, which is vital for accurately calculating your medical expenses and total damages.
- Understanding pain and suffering: Your pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, may not become fully apparent until later in your recovery process. Releasing medical records prematurely can result in a settlement offer that does not account for the full extent of your pain and suffering.
- Maximizing your claim: The information contained in your medical records is a crucial component of your personal injury claim. When requesting a settlement from the insurance company, it’s essential to use these records strategically in your demand letter. Your attorney can help you craft a settlement offer that incorporates your medical records effectively to support your claim for damages.
- Talk to your personal injury lawyer: Consulting with a personal injury attorney before releasing your medical records can be beneficial. An attorney can help you assess the appropriate timing for release and guide you through the negotiation process. They can also assist in preparing a demand letter that accurately reflects the full scope of your injuries and losses.
- Protect your privacy: Ensure you understand the specific records you authorize for release and are not providing more information than necessary. Protect your privacy by limiting the release of relevant medical records related to the accident and injuries.
Your current injuries should speak for themselves when making a personal injury claim. Don’t claim injuries are worse than they are. Your insurance company will find ways to get to the truth about your injuries, and if they discover your exaggeration, they may dismiss your claim.
The Consequences of Exaggerating Injuries:
- Loss of credibility: Exaggerating injuries can severely damage your credibility throughout the claims process. Insurance adjusters and legal representatives are experienced in evaluating the legitimacy of injury claims, and they may become skeptical if they suspect exaggeration. Maintaining your honesty and integrity is crucial to building trust during negotiations.
- Risk of claim denial: If the insurance company discovers that you’ve exaggerated your injuries, they may dismiss your claim and potentially label it as fraudulent. This can have serious legal consequences, including the denial of your claim and potential legal action against you for insurance fraud.
- Impact on future claims: A dishonest claim can have a lasting impact on your ability to secure insurance coverage and fair settlements in the future. Insurance companies share information, and a history of exaggeration or fraud can make it difficult to obtain coverage or fair compensation.
- Medical records and expert opinions: Insurance companies often rely on medical records and expert opinions to evaluate the extent of injuries. Exaggeration can be exposed when these records don’t align with your claims. It’s essential to provide accurate information to your healthcare providers and be forthcoming about your symptoms, limitations, and pain levels to ensure medical records reflect your true condition.
Consistency in your statements is vital. Inaccurate or inconsistent verbal or written statements can be used against you during negotiations or in court. Be honest about your injuries, symptoms, and how they affect your daily life to maintain consistency in your narrative.
If you’re unsure how to accurately present your injuries and damages, consult your personal injury attorney. They can help you understand personal injury law, and what constitutes fair compensation and guide you in navigating the claims process with honesty and integrity.
It’s crucial to receive the necessary medical treatment for your injuries. Exaggerating or downplaying symptoms can hinder your recovery and adversely affect your overall well-being. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations and adhere to your treatment plan to ensure you receive proper care and can cover future medical bills and expenses.
Answering All the Questions
You don’t have to answer each of the questions presented to you by the insurance company. These questions are designed to find flaws in your case and ensure they can present you with the lowest possible offer or no settlement offer. If you’re unsure of the answer to any question asked, make sure to speak with your personal injury attorney in South Carolina directly and discuss the question and potential responses.
The strategic approach to answering questions:
- Know your rights: Understand that you have the right to be cautious when dealing with insurance company representatives. You are not obligated to answer every question they ask, and you can choose to protect your interests by exercising discretion.
- Purpose of questions: Recognize that the insurance company’s questions are often designed to elicit information that could be used against you. They may seek to uncover inconsistencies or admissions of fault that could weaken your claim or justify a lower settlement offer.
- Consult your attorney: One of the most critical steps when confronted with questions from the insurance company is to consult your personal injury attorney. Your attorney can provide valuable guidance on what questions to answer, how to answer them, and when to decline to respond.
- Protect your statements: Remember that anything you say to the insurance company may be used as evidence during negotiations or in court. Therefore, be cautious about the information you provide. Your attorney can help you prepare and craft responses that protect your legal interests.
- Relevance and privacy: Evaluate the relevance of each question asked. If a question appears unrelated to your case or feels invasive, you can respectfully request an explanation for why it is being asked. You have the right to maintain your privacy and only share information that pertains to your claim.
- Written communication: Whenever possible, communicate with the insurance company in writing. This allows you to carefully consider your responses and consult your attorney before providing any information. Written communication can also serve as a record of the exchange.
- Recorded statements: Be cautious about providing recorded statements, as these can be used to extract information that may not benefit your claim. Consult with your attorney before agreeing to a recorded interview.
- Stay focused on the facts: When answering questions, stick to the facts and avoid offering unnecessary details or opinions. Your responses should be concise and accurate, emphasizing the relevant aspects of your case.
- Consider the big picture: Remember that your primary goal is to secure a fair personal injury settlement amount for your injuries and losses. Your attorney can help you focus on this objective while navigating interactions with the insurance company.
The Initial Offer
Your claims adjuster will present you with the initial offer in the weeks after the settlement process has begun. They will use this opportunity to highlight why they’ve presented you with this specific settlement and the factors involved in their analysis.
However, this initial offer is usually a lowball offer designed to force you to settle the case quickly and at the lowest possible price. It’s recommended that you never accept this initial offer because there’s usually a better offer available with a little more negotiation.
The initial offer is typically the starting point in the negotiation process. It’s advisable to approach it cautiously, seek legal guidance, and be prepared for thorough negotiation to ensure you receive fair compensation for your personal injury claim. Your attorney can help you navigate this process and advocate for your best interests throughout the settlement negotiations. It is interesting to note that hiring a personal injury lawyer will increase your average recovery compensation by 440%.
Assessing the Offer
You might feel under pressure to take this offer due to financial burdens as a result of your injury but think carefully about the value of the proposal and what it might mean if you were to negotiate for a higher amount. On rare occasions, an insurance adjuster will see the fairness in your position and give you an acceptable initial offer, given your injuries.
Make sure you measure the offer against the amount you originally requested and determine, alongside your attorney, whether or not the offer represents a fair value. Often, you’ll find the benefits of negotiation far outweigh a quick and low-value settlement agreement.
Communicating with the Claims Adjuster
If you choose to reject the low settlement offer, you must communicate your decision to the claims adjuster. Your legal representative can help you write a letter that states your intentions. Within the letter, you can indicate that you reject the offer and highlight why you deserve a higher settlement amount. You should also counter their reasons for offering the lowball initial offer. Your explanation behind these reasons can be critical in getting a better second offer from the claims adjuster.
Finally, within your letter, you should highlight an amount you believe would be fair given your injuries and the circumstances. This amount should be slightly less than you had originally requested in your legal claim to show the insurance company you are willing to compromise.
How to Create the Proper Settlement Counter Offer
In choosing an amount for your counteroffer to the insurance company, you should work closely with your personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will know how the insurance company and the adjuster work. They know the steps the insurance company takes in evaluating a claim and making an offer and can find a strategy that will get the maximum amount for your settlement.
Ensure that emotional points are a key element in creating your counteroffer. For example, the loss of enjoyment caused by missing important family events might be included when presenting your response to a low settlement offer in a car accident or personal injury claim. You might also discuss your inability to take on normal daily activities. The insurance company will consider emotional elements carefully when they receive your counteroffer.
The experienced legal team at The Clardy Law Firm is here to help you with the process of countering a low settlement in your personal injury case.