Being involved in an accident can cause significant injury, causing you to rack up the medical bills.
There's a chance you'll spend some time in the hospital as well as miss a substantial amount of work due to your injuries.
This puts an enormous strain on your finances, leaving you feeling lost and helpless.
The physical injuries, along with the emotional trauma of an accident and the economic costs, are enough to drive a person crazy.
So when you get a low settlement offer from your insurance company, it can feel like an insult.
What happens if your insurance settlement is too low?
Fortunately, you don't have to accept it. You never even have to speak with the insurance adjusters.
Instead, an experienced personal injury attorney can handle the entire process and ensure that you get the settlement offer you deserve.
In the article below, we will examine how you can respond to a low injury settlement offer from an insurance company.
Why Did I Receive a Low ball Settlement Offer?
First things first, we should talk about why your settlement offer was so low.
One reason the settlement offer could be so low is that the adjuster doesn't have all the necessary information, like medical bills and records of other damages.
Make sure the adjuster has everything they need during their investigation of your accident.
If you discover that your offer was made based on incomplete information, provide your adjuster with the information they need and ask them to redo the claim.
Aside from this, there are a few other reasons that you could have received a low settlement offer.
Maybe there wasn't a lot of damage to your vehicle, you had unexplained gaps in medical treatment, or perhaps you have pre-existing injuries to the areas of your body that were injured in your accident.
All of these factors can lead to your adjuster sending a low ball offer.
Steps to Respond to a Low Settlement Offer
Some people think they can handle the insurance companies by themselves, but it is always a good idea to work with an experienced attorney, especially if you are nursing injuries.
If you do receive a low settlement offer from your insurance company, you and hopefully your attorney can take the following steps to get you the settlement you deserve:
Remain Calm and Analyze Your Offer
Just like anything in life, it's never a good idea to respond emotionally after receiving a low offer.
It's an even bigger mistake to accept it out of fear that it's the best they will do.
No matter how upset you get, how in need of money you may be, never ruin the professional relationship you have with the other parties.
Things you say and do can be sued against you if you try to renegotiate the offer.
Keep in mind that the insurance company's initial offer will be the lowest offer they can get away with and serves as a starting point for negotiations.
Once you're sure you can keep your emotions in check, you can start asking questions.
Find out why the adjuster made the offer they did.
Ask your claims adjuster to break down how they made their offer based on the information they have.
Your insurance adjuster is required to give you the reasons why they came to their decision if they decide to deny your claim.
Their responses can help guide you on how to respond with an appropriate counteroffer.
For example, as we mentioned above, if your offer was not enough or it was denied due to missing information, provide them with the information they need in your counteroffer.
Present the Facts
Everything needs to be documented after your accident.
Your injuries, medical costs, property damage, lost wages, and any other documentation of damages can serve as valuable evidence to support your claim.
The more evidence you have, the easier it will be to prove your claim.
Having the paperwork necessary to back up the amount you believe is needed to cover your damages makes it harder for your insurance company to send you a lowball offer.
Presenting your adjuster with all the facts, backed by a paper trail, will likely force them to give you a better settlement offer.
Develop a Counteroffer
With all of your documentation, and after thoroughly reviewing the offer from your adjuster, you and your attorney can develop a counteroffer.
Other factors that you will need to consider when developing your counteroffer might be the limits of the insurance policies or the wrongdoer's personal assets if the insurance policy limits aren't enough to pay your damages.
There may be several offers made during the settlement negotiations.
It will be up to you and your attorney to decide what you are willing to accept for your claim.
If you cannot reach a fair settlement during negotiations, you might have to take your claim to court.
Respond in Writing
Your attorney will help you draft a formal response in the form of a demand letter to the initial offer notifying the insurer that you are rejecting the offer.
While drafting the letter, you and your attorney can point out faulty assumptions made by the insurance company that made the initial offer too low.
Your written response should include additional details that had been left out initially, like proof of lost income, updated medical records and medical bills, details from police reports, and details about your non-economic damages, like how pain and suffering is affecting your life.
Don't Settle Until You're Healed
When renegotiating a low settlement offer, you should remember not to accept an offer until you have made a complete recovery from your injuries.
You need to understand the full extent of your injuries so the settlement offer can cover future medical expenses.
Once you've accepted and signed the settlement, you can not renegotiate the offer or file another personal injury lawsuit.
You Cannot Negotiate After You Accept a Settlement Offer
Your settlement offer is a binding contract.
In a typical settlement, you agree to accept money in exchange for ending your lawsuit or giving up your legal rights against the other party.
Once your settlement agreement has been accepted and signed, there are no re-dos.
If sometime down the road you realize that the settlement was too low to cover all of your financial needs, there's no going back.
That's why it is so important to know that the settlement offer you've received is fair and reasonable.
This is why having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side is priceless when negotiating a settlement.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Negotiate a Settlement
Your personal injury attorney has undergone extensive training with real-life experience, so they can help you negotiate your personal injury claim.
Your lawyer will help you perform two critical functions when negotiating your settlement.
First, they will conduct a detailed analysis of the damages you have incurred to calculate your out of pocket expenses as well as the pain and suffering you are enduring.
Translating non-economic damages into a reasonable dollar amount takes the skill and experience of a seasoned attorney.
With the experience and training necessary to deal with insurance companies and their low ball offers, your lawyer will even the playing field between you and the insurance company, increasing your odds of getting a fair settlement.