Five Tips To Improve Your Car Accident Settlement
If you have been in a car accident your life can quickly become difficult and chaotic. Suddenly you are faced with the daunting task of getting your car to the shop, getting a rental vehicle, going to the doctor, picking up your prescriptions, filing out insurance forms, and the myriad of other tasks that must be taken care of. It is this reality that always leads us to assure a client after they retain us that the only thing they now need to do is get healthy and let us worry about the rest. What if, however, instead of retaining an attorney you decide to pursue settlement of your insurance claim unrepresented? In that event, here are some tips to improve your settlement position and success:
- Obtain and Review your Medical Records: The value of your personal injury settlement firmly correlates with the information found in your medical chart notes. Therefore, it is important for you to review those records and send them to the insurance adjuster with your settlement demand. In your demand packet you should highlight the medical records supporting your claim for injury, disability, pain, suffering, work restrictions, and residual medical issues. This will also prepare you for the adjuster’s critique of your case during the negotiation phase.
- Photographic Evidence: You should secure pictures of the property damage to your car and the car of the at-fault driver. These pictures will provide proof of the accident and the force of impact. The other set of pictures you want to get are those of any visible injuries to your body. If your injuries include cuts, abrasions, lacerations, scars, or similarly visible wounds make sure you take pictures. By providing the insurance adjuster with copies of the above pictures you will further substantiate the legitimacy and extent of your personal injury claim.
- Narrative Report: Number one above addresses procuring and reviewing your medical records. This may be all that is necessary to provide medical proof of your injuries. However, sometimes the medical chart notes are not sufficient to explain the causal connection between the car accident and the subsequent injuries and need for medical treatment. In that event, you will need to request a letter from your treating physician to explain the nature and extent of your injuries. Typically this letter will include a description of the injuries related to the accident, the necessity of treatment for the injuries, and your future disability or limitations if any. You should also know that most physicians will charge you for their time to provide you with this letter.
- Demand Letter: You will need to send the insurance adjuster a “demand’ letter when you are ready to settle your claim. While there is no specific method or style for crafting this letter, it should be a comprehensive letter that details the accident, your subsequent injuries, effect on your life, and claims for economic and non-economic losses. Make sure to include all of the above referenced documents as attachments (exhibits) to your settlement demand letter. The letter should end with a specific request for monetary compensation. In other words, you should specify to the adjuster what amount you are willing to settle your claim for. Keep in mind that this is a negotiation process and that your first number will be one of several you will need to consider. During the negotiation process the adjuster will increase their offer and you will need to decrease your demand to make progress. Remember that when you consider what amount you include with your demand letter.
- Honest Evaluation of Your Claim: You must know the reasonable range of your settlement value. You may have made up your mind about what settlement amount you should receive for your claim, but if that amount is not realistic (empirical) you will NOT be able to settle your claim. Do your homework. Research what similar cases settled for or what juries have awarded other plaintiffs with similar cases in your venue. This is difficult for non-attorneys to do, but without a realistic value range, you may settle your case for much less that you deserve, or expect an unrealistic settlement offer.
Settling a car accident case is a complex process with multiple moving parts. This is why it requires attorneys that specialize in this field to do a good job for their clients. For decades our law firm has been doing just that. With abundant experience and specialization we are certain we can help you with your case. Feel free to call us to schedule a FREE consultation and see how we can be of assistance.