The insurance company responsible for processing your claim may not be eager to pay you what your claim is worth, and negotiations to maximize your settlement will likely be a must. The following reviews what you need to do to get the compensation award you deserve, and what you need to know about negotiations–
Immediately After the Accident
As soon as possible after the accident, file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. However, do not talk about your bodily injuries until you know their full extent. In addition, do not sign any documents allowing the insurance company to request your medical records.
There is no statute or case law that states that you need to give the other insurance company any information about your injuries during the pre-litigation stage.
The reasoning for not talking or signing over medical records are:
- You do not want to do anything prematurely;
- You do not want to submit partial information; and
- You do not want to give the other driver’s insurance company access to all of your medical records.
All the relevant information can be submitted once you complete treatment with your medical providers and there is a complete history of your medical injuries.
Sending Relevant Information to the Insurance Company
There is usually a time delay between the accident and sending the information to the other driver’s insurance company. It could be three months, six months, even a year later. None of these timeframes are unusual. During this time, fully participating in your medical treatment is essential. Go to the doctor, get medical treatment, and follow up with any physical therapy or other treatment as recommended. This will help determine the severity of the injuries and record medical history and billing.
The information that you and your attorneys gather is called a demand package. This is the injured party’s story. It includes the following:
- The facts of the case (how the accident took place, why the other side is at fault);
- Medical records including the medical treatment, billing, the accident’s effect on your life; and
- Exhibits such as records, bills, photos, and any police reports.
A demand package is prepared as a written form – a narrative from the perspective of the injured driver. This is the only time you must make a good first impression. All of the necessary information needs to be given the other side.
After a demand is sent, adjusters and/or attorneys for the insurance company in question will review the package and usually send a response back within 30 days. They will either accept the demand (rare) or come back with an offer. At such time, the injured party can negotiate with a counter-demand, or accept the first offer.
If there is an agreement, there is a settlement. When there is no agreement, the injured party can file a lawsuit and bring the claim before a court. During the litigation process, there is a possibility of settlement through standard conversation, mediation or a jury trial to conclude the case.
During negotiations, it is very important that you fully understand what your case is worth and what types of damages you are seeking. You have the right to seek both economic and noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, and can seek compensation for both present and future losses. You may need to work with a professional to help you determine what your claim is worth. Do not let an insurance company get away with lowballing your claim.
You can return to the negotiation table many times, and may need to in order to get what you deserve. If there is an agreement, this is called a settlement. When there is no agreement, the injured party can file a lawsuit and bring the claim before a court. During the litigation process, there is a possibility of settlement through standard conversation, mediation or a jury trial to conclude the case.
Working with an experienced negotiator during the process can help. If you have questions, contact the Beliz Law Firm for a free consultation today.