If you are injured in a car accident, I highly recommend hiring a Seattle personal injury lawyer to represent you for your car accident injury case. If you decide to try to negotiate the car accident injury case on your own with a trained negotiator like the insurance adjuster on the other side, which I highly discourage, here are 5 tips to negotiate your case.
1. Wait until you are fully healed to start negotiating your settlement
Too many people get notices from insurance companies in the mail at the outset of their case and throughout their case saying they need to take this offer now or lose the offer. This is an insurance trick to try to get you to settle early before all your injuries are healed leaving you with more time at the chiropractor with more bills that need to be paid from your settlement, or leaving you in pain with no treatment. Ignore the insurance company until you are healed and given the ok to stop treatment by your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist.
Once you are healed, you have an idea of what your medical bills are, how long it took you to heal, what your injuries were, and how much you lost because you missed work due to your injuries or had to use vacation or sick pay (which are compensable).
2. Calculate all your expenses and include copies of them all to the insurance
You are entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, future lost wages, lost earning capacity, future medical treatment, and pain and suffering. Collect all your medical bills from all of your providers and add them all up. Collect all your pay stubs and notes from doctors and employers showing days missed and excused work. If you have suffered a permanent partial disability as a result of the car accident, take your current salary and discount it by your disability and multiply that by your expected working life, which give you your lost earning capacity or future lost wages. Include all of these bills in your negotiation with the insurance company.
3. Get all your medical bills paid by your medical insurance or your auto insurance
If you get your medical bills paid up front, sometimes you can negotiate with insurance companies how much they are owed back from the settlement. Most importantly, however, is that you will be able to get the treatment that you need for your car accident injuries. If you are unlucky to not have these great insurance plans to pay for your treatment, you may not be able to afford the treatment out of pocket, which you will not be able to pay for until after you have settled the case giving a lot more weight to the insurance company adjuster’s pressure for you to settle now to pay for your medical bills. They will not pay for your medical bills until you settle with them, unless your are a passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclists who qualify for PIP from the defendant’s insurance company separate from the settlement.
4. Collect all your medical records and get a letter from your doctor linking injury to car accident
When you are negotiating with the insurance company’s adjuster, you need to come prepared with medical jargon knowledge. You need to know what your injuries were and what the treatment for them consisted of. If you don’t know the language and what injuries are severe and what are minor, you will not have any leverage on the insurance company. They have all the money but you have some power if you know what your case is actually worth and what your injuries suffered are.
5. Search on line for your case value and start off negotiations much higher than where you want to end up
Every case is different so there is no bright line rule on how much your case is worth. You will find some people getting different values for same injuries because of a number of factors that no two people truly share. Two cases with the same injuries can be worth far different amounts because of how much treatment each person actually does, the cost of their treatment, the duration of their treatment and pain, and the amount of lost wages each has. If two people have identical treatment and injuries but one person makes $100 an hour and the other makes $10 an hour and they both missed 10 hours of work, the first person gets an additional $1,000 while the second person only gets $100, a difference of $900.
Because there are so many factors that go into determining how much a case is worth and how much more knowledge insurance adjuster’s have of case worth and pressure they put on you to settle from the outset, I highly recommend you hire a Seattle personal injury lawyer for your car accident injury case. Consultations are free and we are paid out of the settlement so everyone can afford to hire one but you cannot afford to not hire one as a result of what you could be missing out on.