Did you know that your personal injury lawsuit could be settled before it ever reaches a courtroom?
In fact, the American Bar Association (ABA) reports that only a small percentage of personal injury cases actually go to trial, and that’s good news. In many cases, it means that you can get the compensation you deserve much more quickly and without the expense of a long trial.
However, it also presents some challenges. The primary challenge is the fact that insurance companies often try to get victims to settle for less than the true value of their claim. Indeed, insurance companies are very skilled at pushing victims into low settlement offers.
If you have been seriously injured in an accident in Rhode Island, you need to know how to respond to the first personal injury settlement offer so that you can demand maximum compensation for your claim.
You Should Expect the First Settlement Offer to Be Low
The first settlement offer from the insurance company should be thought of as an opening bid on your claim. As such, you should expect that the initial settlement offer will be too low.
It is important to understand the underlying interests of insurance companies as well as the tactics that they often use. Above all else, the company is attempting to make money. The more the company pays out in settlements, the less money it will bring in.
Of course, the insurance company also has a legal obligation to pay out full and fair injury settlements. Further, the insurance company would like to avoid going to court. As a result, many companies have developed a strategy of pushing victims into quick and low settlement agreements.
They do this because they want to settle all personal injury cases before the victims have an opportunity to speak to a personal injury attorney. Once a case gets in front of an attorney, the victim will likely learn the true value of their claim.
Five Tips for Handling the First Settlement Offer
You know the first settlement offer for your injuries is going to be too low. This means that you need to be patient when responding to it. For many victims, this creates a frustrating delay. Most people want to get their claim resolved as soon as possible so they can start putting their accident behind them. Unfortunately, the personal injury claims process does take some time, and you must not rush through it. You are owed a full settlement offer from the insurance company, and you owe it to yourself and to your family to get that settlement offer.
Remember that All Conversations are Formal
Insurance companies will look for information that they can use against you to reduce the value of the claim. For example, the insurance company may try to find some reason to suggest that your accident was partially your fault. Alternatively, the company may argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. How does the company try to get evidence to prove these arguments? Often, it is through conversations with you. Whenever you are speaking with a representative of the insurance company, you need to be on guard. No matter how disarming the representative sounds over the phone, all conversations are official. Please always choose your words very carefully, and do not give a recorded statement.
Know Your Starting Point
You also need to have a good grasp of the true value of your personal injury claim. After all, how will you know if the settlement offer is fair if you do not know how much your claim is worth? Under Rhode Island law, people who have been injured due to another party’s negligence are entitled to compensation for the full extent of their damages. In other words, you need to add together all of your economic and noneconomic damages to find the fair value of your claim. Of course, this is not easy to do on your own. It is strongly advised that you consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help.
Get a Rhode Island Lawyer Involved
Ultimately, it is best to get a lawyer involved in your case as soon as possible after your accident. Not only will your lawyer be able to help you value your injury claim, but your attorney can help you when you negotiate a settlement for your injury. It is best to let your lawyer handle any direct negotiations with the insurance company. Generally, you should not propose a counter settlement number to the insurance company over the phone. Instead, you should get all of the information related to your case in front of your lawyer so that he or she can formulate a written counteroffer.
The Counteroffer Should Be in Writing
Your lawyer will need to review your case and review the terms of the settlement offer. In rare circumstances, you may be advised to accept that offer. However, in many cases, your lawyer will help you put together a counteroffer. Making a counter is a complicated process. If you make an unreasonably high offer, the negotiations may grind to a halt. On the other hand, if you make a counteroffer that is still too low, you may leave money on the table. An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you put together a counteroffer that fully represents the damages you have suffered.
Contact Our Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers Today
Dealing with the insurance company is never easy. Our team can help. At Gemma Law Associates, Inc., our personal injury attorneys have helped many injured victims maximize their settlement compensation. To learn more about what our team can do for you, please contactour Providence office today to schedule your free initial consultation. We represent victims throughout Rhode Island, including in Bristol, Newport, Cranston, and Woonsocket.