If you were injured in a car accident or truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages you sustained due to another party’s negligence.
However, you can’t expect the other party to simply accept full accountability and give you maximum compensation. Your ability to recover fair compensation is tied to your ability to negotiate for top dollar. Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers can explain the negotiation process in personal injury cases and how they can help.
Tips for Negotiating a Personal Injury Case
There are a few tricks of the trade for negotiating a fair settlement in your injury case. Some tips to help secure more compensation include:
- Account for All of Your Damages
Your damages are losses that you suffer because of the accident. Some losses are economic in nature while others are not.
Florida law says that economic damages include:
- Past lost income
- Future lost income
- Medical expenses
- Lost support and services
- Funeral expenses
- Replacement value of lost personal property
It is important that you consider how the accident has affected your present financial situation, as well as how it may impact your finances in the future.
You can also receive compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
- Know the Break Even Point
The Florida Bar recommends that lawyers try to find the break-even point in a case, which factors in the costs if litigation occurs.
These costs may include:
- The extra time required to prepare for litigation
- The time to conduct litigation
- Expert witness fees
- Court costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses
If your lawyer is able to get a settlement offer that is comparable to what you could receive at trial, it may be best to accept the settlement offer and avoid a trial.
- Do Not Accept the First Offer
The insurance company may make an offer to try to resolve the claim early in the process. However, this offer is probably less than the compensation to which you are entitled. By being patient and taking time to develop your claim, you may be able to recover fair compensation.
- Hire a Lawyer
Dealing with a personal injury claim is difficult. An experienced lawyer can handle the claim on your behalf and protect your interests. They are also used to negotiating and accurately evaluating claims, so they will know whether a settlement offer is fair or not.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
If the insurance company is not offering a fair settlement amount, you can choose to walk away. This will indicate to the insurance company that you are serious about recovering fair compensation for your claim and that you are not afraid to go to trial, if necessary. You could still be able to settle the claim before a trial ever occurs.
Factors that Affect the Value of a Claim
When negotiating, it is important to have an accurate idea about the potential value of your claim.
There are many factors that can increase or decrease your claim’s value, such as:
- The severity of your injuries – The more serious your injuries are, the higher the potential value of your claim.
- The impact of the accident on your life – The accident may have a long-lasting impact on your life, such as negatively affecting your ability to work or your relationships with loved ones. Your settlement should factor in this information.
- Policy limits – The insurance company will only go up to the amount of their policy limits. Your lawyer may ask for the maximum amount available under the coverage. If the insurance company refuses to provide maximum compensation, your lawyer may ask the insurance company to provide a written reason why not.
- How you present as a witness – The insurance company will consider how you would present at trial to a jury. If you have a history of other insurance claims, pre-existing injuries, or anything that negatively affects your credibility, the insurance company may factor in this information with their offer.
- Your degree of fault – Florida law deducts a percentage of your damages based on your own degree of fault. For example, if you are found 20% at fault, the insurance company will deduct 20% from your damages.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can review your circumstances and calculate the potential value of your claim.
The negotiation process usually consists of the following steps:
- Investigation – The insurance company will investigate the claim, review the accident report and statements from the parties and witnesses, look at pictures, review medical records, and review policy documents once a claim is filed.
- Reservation of rights letter – The insurance company will send the accident victim a letter stating that the insurance company is investigating the claim and reserving its right not to provide payment for the claim if the insurance company determines the accident is not covered under the policy.
- Calculation of damages – A personal injury lawyer can help calculate the damages the accident victim suffered.
- Demand – The victim’s lawyer sends a written demand letter to the insurance company that asks for a certain amount of compensation.
- Response – The insurance company responds to the demand.
A personal injury lawyer can represent you at each stage of the process.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer for Help With Your Claim
While you can negotiate a settlement on your own, you are more likely to get a favorable and fair settlement when you hire a Florida personal injury attorney. Your attorney can account for all your damages and put you in the best position to secure money for each of them.
Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers can help advise you on the viability of your claim and how best to proceed. Contact us to schedule a free consultation at (727) 787-2500.