If you have a personal injury case, and your damages and injuries are known (they got into your medical record) your (or you and your attorney if you hired one) will send a demand letter to the liable person or their insurance company. The insurers may respond to your demand letter with a low settlement (also known as “low-ball”). How you will respond to this will affect the money you will get and your ability to cover your medical bills, lost wages and other damages and expenses related to your injury.
It’s best if you have a New York personal injury attorney to guide you through this and negotiate the offer.
Analyze the Offer
It’s easy to get upset after a low-ball offer especially if your injury was serious and you have big bile of medical bills.
But, stay calm and analyze the offer. You don’t have to send an emotional response to the insurance company. Also, don’t make the mistake to accept this first low-ball offer.
Many people panic and believe that there is no chance for a higher offer, so they accept the small settlement even though they can get a higher offer with a proper negotiation.
The first offer by the insurance company is just the beginning of the settlement negotiations.
Respond in Writing
Before you write a formal response, you can send the adjuster an email or call them, asking detailed questions that will evaluate the basics for the low first offer. The answers to the questions will give you a clearer picture and guidance for the formal draft of your response.
The first low offer may occur because you didn’t send sufficient info about your injuries and other losses. If this is the case, give the adjuster important info such as your medical bills, lost wages and other relevant information.
If you don’t do this in your first demand letter, focus on the subjective and emotional points of your case. The timeline of the accident and your medical treatment were probably described in your first demand letter, so make sure you don’t repeat yourself. If you wrote the costs and date of your surgery in the first demand letter, don’t repeat that. Instead, write about the effects of the injury (additional medications, the hospital stay).
Now it’s a good time to write about the non-economic damages i.e your pain and suffering. You have gone through stress, trauma and other emotional states that the injury put you through. State that you no longer are able to enjoy the hobbies you used to have, for example.
Form Your Counteroffer
It’s not a very good idea to respond to a low-ball offer for your injury with a super high counteroffer. Keep a professional and detailed approach to your injury settlement negotiations, but consider the amount you believe you deserve and the limits of the applicable insurance coverage. Also, consider that the at-fault party has potential assets.
Maybe your injury was severe and changed the quality of your life forever and you may believe that you deserve $50 000. But, the other side may have low insurance policy limits, and your best chance is to get $25 000. Your reasonable counteroffer can vary between $35 000 – $40 000
You may have to offer more than one counteroffer. Sure, it may seem like a waste of your time especially if you’re still recovering, but the back-and-forth offers are pretty much a standard in personal injury settlement processes.
You Don’t Have to Settle Until You’re Healed
During your recovery process, you don’t have to accept any settlement. You can’t be sure what your costs will be in the end, so you don’t have to take the first (low-ball) offer.
remember that once you accept an offer, you can’t go back and file for a new personal injury lawsuit and ask for more money.
This is why it’s important to think well about the offer. If it’s necessary allow your attorney to negotiate until you get a satisfying settlement and you know will cover all your injury-related expenses.
We have experience with personal injury claims and negotiations. Our mission is to help you get the settlement you deserve. We offer you a free case evaluation; we’ll advise you on the next steps in your case and will help you write a demand letter as well as a counteroffer.
Contact our office today and schedule your first consultation.