In a personal injury case, it can take months for a settlement to be reached. During that time, you could receive several offers from the responsible party's insurance company. The first offer can help to set the tone for the negotiations. If you have received a first offer and it is far less than you were expecting, you have to be careful with your response. Here are some tips for handling the situation.
Discuss the Offer With Your Attorney
Even though whether or not you accept the offer is up to you, it is important you discuss the offer with your attorney. There are several reasons this is the best first move. Your attorney does not have the level of emotional involvement in the settlement that you do. He or she is able to objectively view the facts of your case and the offer and assess it for fairness.
Your attorney also knows just how solid your case is according to the law. He or she can help you determine just how much more you are likely to receive if you choose to continue negotiations. For instance, if you do not have a lot of evidence to support your claim, he or she might advise you to take the offer. However, if you have a particularly strong case, your attorney could advise you to continue negotiations, because you could get much more than the current offer.
Compose a Written Response
It is important that all communications with the insurance company are in writing. Whether or not you accept the offer, it is important that you send a written response. In the response, your attorney will not only list a counteroffer, but detail why you deserve to receive a higher offer.
In the initial demand letter, your attorney included documentation to support your claim. In the counteroffer, your attorney might seek additional evidence. For instance, he or she could ask your doctor to provide a statement that provides a more in-depth analysis of your injuries and how they resulted from the accident in which you were involved.
There is no guarantee that the insurance company accepts your counteroffer. In fact, the company could choose to drop all of its offers or counter with a new offer. Remember, you can choose to settle at any time you want.
With a solid claim, it is possible that the insurance company settles with you and your personal injury attorney quickly. However, it is important that you prepare yourself for months of negotiations.