Car accidents happen. And while most collisions leave nothing more than small scrapes and dents, other accidents can produce significant damage. This includes vehicular damage and personal injuries.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you need to act quickly. Otherwise, the car insurance company will take advantage of your situation and minimize your claim amount.
6 Tips for Negotiating Your Settlement
There are really six main causes of car accidents: speeding, distractions, alcohol/drug consumption, fatigue, bad weather, and manmade hazards. Depending on the situation, collisions can range from minor and insignificant to serious and deadly. And while you may think the insurance companies are on your side, they really only care about their own bottom lines.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses and they’ll do anything they can to minimize payouts and pad their revenue sheets – even if that means treating their clients as cheap tokens.
Here are some ways you can negotiate with them and obtain a larger, fairer settlement in the wake of an accident:
1. Gather All Evidence
According to a well-respected car accident lawyer in Chicago, the success of your case will hinge on the strength of your evidence. Insurance companies won’t treat hearsay and subjective details kindly. You need cold, hard facts that you can use to build the foundation of your case.
The best time to begin gathering evidence is at the accident scene. Take pictures, jot down notes, grab information from observers, etc. There’s no such thing as having too much evidence. You can always toss some of it out. It’s hard to go back and get more after the fact.
2. Don’t Delay
Don’t wait to contact your insurance company and get your claim rolling. Initiate your claim as soon as possible after the accident occurs. This allows you to get the claim on file while your mind is still fresh. (It also prevents any issues where the insurance company could claim you didn’t contact them in a timely manner.)
3. Avoid Making Admissions
Everything you say can and will be used against you by the insurance company. That’s why it’s important to only provide the facts. Likewise, you should avoid making any admissions that could possibly be used to lower your settlement value.
Something as simple as apologizing or saying you’re fine could come back to bite you. Stay alert and use matter-of-fact responses. If you’re unsure of whether you should say something, speak to an attorney.
4. Hire an Attorney
Speaking of attorneys, it’s a good idea to hire one. Most work on contingencies, which means they only charge you fees if they win your case. This makes it an affordable, no-brainer option. The service they provide you will be invaluable and irreplaceable.
When you hire an attorney they will work to show that you are a victim of someone else’s negligence and deserving of financial compensation for an ordeal that you have been subjected to.
When searching for the right attorney, look for someone who is experienced and who specializes in personal injury law and/or car accidents. You should also read reviews and testimonials online. This helps ensure you get the expertise and focus needed to win your settlement.
5. Don’t Accept the First Offer
The insurance company is going to bring you a ridiculously low offer the first time around. It might even be worth just 10 or 15 percent of the value they’re actually willing to pay. Don’t give in!
Despite what the insurance company tells you, there’s always room for negotiation. Consult with your attorney before you consider accepting a figure.
6. Practice Patience and Persistence
Car accident settlements can be long and drawn out. Serious ones can even take years to unfold. It’s important that you practice patience while remaining persistent. Your lawyer can help you walk this fine line.
Stay Focused and Committed
Car insurance companies have dozens of tactics up their sleeves, but one of their favorites is to prolong settlement claims and exhaust accident victims. They want to make the process so frustrating and mind-numbing that you eventually scream, “Uncle!”
If you want to get the fair settlement that you deserve, you need to stay focused and committed to the task at hand. Hopefully, this article has given you some tangible advice that you can act upon to increase your chances of getting a fair and just payout.