No one plans to be injured in a motor vehicle collision. Immediately following a car accident, your first priority should be to seek medical treatment and to get well. Once your treatment has ended, an experienced San Antonio car accident attorney can help you negotiate full, fair and favorable settlements with the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company, as compensation for the harm you have suffered.
Write an Effective Demand Letter
The first step in the settlement negotiation process with the insurance company is sending a clear and concise demand letter to the insurance adjuster. An experienced San Antonio car accident attorney will draft a letter that briefly describes the accident, along with a summary of your injuries, medical treatment, medical bills, physical therapy, job limitations, and the permanency of your injuries. The demand letter will be accompanied by objective evidence of your injuries, including copies of all pertinent medical records, bills, and wage statements and verifications. Finally, the demand letter will propose an amount (or demand) to settle the case. The amount of this initial settlement demand depends upon a variety of factors, including the nature, extent and permanency of your injuries, and even the jurisdiction where the lawsuit would ultimately be filed if a favorable settlement is not reached. Since settlement negotiations are a back-and-forth process, your initial demand will be for more than what the case is actually worth. Likewise, the initial offer from the insurance adjuster will most likely be far less than what the case is actually worth, and will trigger several rounds of negotiation between the insurance adjuster and your San Antonio car accident attorney.
Know the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Case
There is no such thing as a personal injury case without any weaknesses. A savvy San Antonio car accident attorney will know how to emphasize the strengths of your case and downplay any weaknesses, such as prior injuries and pre-existing medical conditions. During negotiations, your attorney will emphasize all the reasons the adjuster’s settlement offer is low and why you believe your case is worth more. Such reasons may include excessive pain and suffering; time away from recreational activities as a result of your injuries; limits on or an inability to work or care for your children; or the need for future care or medical treatment.
Provide Evidence of Property Damages
When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in extensive property damage, and you have photographs of that damage, the photos can be extremely beneficial to your case. Ideally, these photographs should be provided along with the initial demand letter, but they can also be forwarded to the adjuster under separate cover. Rightly or wrongly, insurance companies tend to link extensive property damage to severe and highly compensable injuries.
File a lawsuit
In some cases, particularly soft-tissue injury cases, insurance companies are not willing to seriously negotiate a claim from the onset. In those cases, it may be appropriate to file a lawsuit to force the insurance company to take the case more seriously and put reasonable money on the table. By filing a lawsuit, your San Antonio car accident attorney effectively “lights a fire” under the insurance company’s feet and forces the adjuster to take action.
Know When to Say “Yes” in Favorable Settlements
There is no such thing as a “perfect” settlement in which both sides to a dispute walk away 100% happy with the outcome. That is not to say, however, that you should accept any settlement offer from an insurance adjuster, much less the initial offer. However, depending on your circumstances, you may be better off accepting a reasonable (but lower) settlement offer than incurring the costs and expenses of litigation – not to mention the uncertainty of a trial verdict. An experienced San Antonio car accident attorney will be able to counsel you on when to say “yes” to the offer and when to take your case to a jury.
Settling a personal injury case is a complex process. Teaming up with a San Antonio car accident attorney who has experience dealing with and negotiating with insurance adjusters is vital to maximizing the value of your claim. If you were injured in a car accident, call us today, at 210-899-5386, or complete the email form on this page.