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How To Negotiate A Settlement in A Virginia Personal Injury Case
Do you know how to negotiate a settlement in Virginia?
If you make a personal injury claim of any kind, you’ll have to negotiate with the other party’s insurance company. Even if you file a lawsuit, negotiations will be ongoing. Your case may reach a resolution out of court at any time.
If you present the insurance company with a proper demand letter with plenty of evidence in your favor, negotiations may be little more than a few phone calls. This is one reason it is so beneficial to have an attorney from the beginning of the personal injury process.
But this isn’t always the case. In this post, our attorneys at the Manassas Law Group will describe how to negotiate a settlement in Virginia. We’ll talk about why it may or may not be in your best interest to settle your case. And, we’ll provide some tips for negotiations.
How to Negotiate a Settlement in Virginia: The Negotiation Process
The negotiation process for a personal injury claim will be different from claim to claim. As we said earlier, some negotiations may only involve a few phone calls.
But the average settlement negotiation is a little more complex than that. Negotiations will take place between your attorney and the other party’s insurance company. Through written correspondence or more informally over the phone, your attorney and the insurance adjuster will make points about the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.
For instance, your attorney may point out that there are eyewitnesses confirming that the other party was responsible for your injury. This is evidence in your favor and indicates that the insurance company should accept your attorney’s proposed settlement amount.
The insurance adjuster might then point out that it is possible that someone else may have been equally responsible for your injury. This is a potential weakness in your claim and indicates that you and your attorney should settle for a lower settlement amount. Your attorney will then propose a figure higher than the counter-offer but lower than the original offer.
The adjuster and your attorney will communicate this way until they arrive at a figure both you and the insurance company are happy with. The amount will probably be lower than what your attorney first offered, but higher than what the insurance company first offered.
Should I Settle My Virginia Insurance Claim?
Well, whether or not settling your insurance claim is in your best interest depends on your specific case. The easiest way to know if you should settle is to consult a Manassas Law Group attorney.
Usually, settling insurance claims is in both party’s best interests. The alternative to settling insurance claims is to take your case to trial. Trials are unpredictable and may drag on for months and months.
If your attorney advises you to settle, you should settle. The only time it is in your best interest not to settle is if there is strong evidence in your favor, and the insurance company refuses to negotiate.
How to Negotiate A Settlement in Virginia: Quick Tips From A Manassas Attorney
There are a few practices you can employ to put your claim in the best possible position during negotiations. Here are some of these tips from a Manassas personal injury attorney.
Have A Settlement Amount in Mind
How to negotiate a settlement in Virginia, tip: decide on a minimum settlement amount you will accept.
As part of your personal injury demand letter, you and your Manassas attorney will determine what you think your claim is worth. Within the range of that number, you and your attorney should decide the least amount of money you’ll accept. The number in your demand letter is the amount of money you want, but it helps to keep your bottom line in mind during negotiations.
It’s also important you don’t share this information with the insurance adjuster. If they know you’ll accept some smaller amount of money, they might be unwilling to offer you any more than that.
But you shouldn’t cling to this figure too tightly. If an insurance adjuster points out some key weaknesses in your claim that you hadn’t considered before, it might be wise to review your minimum amount. Likewise, if the adjuster leads off with an offer near your minimum, you might move your figure upward.
What is a Reservation of Rights Letter?
You may receive something called a reservation of rights letter from the insurance company. Don’t be intimidated.
All this means is that the insurance company is investigating your claim, but they reserve their right not to pay you if the other party’s policy doesn’t cover your accident.
This is just to protect the insurance company. It prevents you from claiming that the policy covers your accident simply because the company opened negotiations with you.
Don’t Jump At The First Offer
How to negotiate a settlement in Virginia tip: don’t take the first offer.
An insurance adjuster may offer you an extremely low claim just to see if you know what your claim is worth. Again, this is why it is beneficial to have an attorney. We’ll talk more about this tactic below.
If the offer is reasonable, just a bit low, you can counter with a slightly higher number, but still lower than your original offer. This shows the adjuster that you are being reasonable, too.
Make the Adjuster Justify A Low Offer
How to negotiate a settlement in Virginia tip: ask your adjuster for specific reasons they made a lowball offer.
It’s entirely possible the adjuster will make a lowball offer just to see if you really know what your claim is worth.
If they make an offer that is unreasonably low, don’t immediately lower the amount you asked for in your demand letter. Instead, ask the adjuster exactly why their offer was so low, and write them a second letter answering each point. See if they budge after that. If the adjuster is being reasonable, you should be able to reach a fair settlement with them.
Emphasize Emotional Points
How to negotiate a settlement in Virginia tip: don’t be afraid to talk about emotional factors. Facts are always good, but so are strong emotional claims.
For instance, if your injury prevented you from taking care of your child, you might refer to your child’s suffering during negotiations. Though there’s no way to put a price tag on pain and suffering, emphasizing your emotional pain can go a long way towards getting insurance companies to bring a reasonable offer to the table.
Put the Settlement in Writing
How to negotiate a settlement in Virginia tip: When you and the insurance adjuster finally reach an agreement, immediately confirm with a letter to the adjuster.
This letter can be short and sweet. Just name the amount you agreed to, the injuries involved, and the date you expect to receive the settlement by.
How to Negotiate A Settlement in Virginia: Call the Manassas Law Group!
The Manassas Law Group has been serving the people of Virginia for generations.