Once your lawyer has all the facts, and the medical bills and reports are in, it’s time for the insurance adjuster and lawyer to work out the settlement. While you’re waiting for weeks or months to hear an offer, this is what’s happening behind the scenes.
Your lawyer sends an injury demand letter to the insurance adjuster assigned to your case. This opens the negotiation process by making the first request for a specific amount of money. That amount is based on your medical bills, doctor’s reports, and the severity of damage to your vehicle, among other things. If you’ve hired an experienced car accident attorney, the insurance adjuster will probably already be familiar with him or her and hopefully won’t waste time on ridiculously low offers.
The insurance adjuster will analyze the facts of the claim and may try to downplay their client’s negligence and place more liability on you, the victim. They may try to make a case that the accident was partially your fault, thus limiting the amount of compensation they have to provide. They could also question medical treatments they don’t agree with, such as alternative medicine or “too many” tests. Your lawyer, using all your documentation, will defend your bills and establish your lack of liability.
From here the haggling goes back and forth with offers and counteroffers. Usually the process results in a final offer, which your lawyer then presents to you and asks if it’s an amount you are willing to accept. But, if the insurance company refuses to offer a settlement that you find acceptable, you may choose to file a formal civil lawsuit.
Many factors determine how long the negotiation process takes, and insurance companies are never in a hurry to lose money. Fortunately, by hiring a lawyer, you don’t have to spend months haggling, defending, and counter-offering yourself. The best thing you can do at this point is to be patient.