Getting the Best Car Accident Settlement
UPDATED: June 19, 2018
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident law decisions. Finding trusted and reliable legal advice should be easy. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Negotiating your own car accident settlement takes organization as well as documentation. Patience is also critical because your negotiations could take several rounds before achieving the car accident settlement you want and deserve. With adequate preparation, some reasonable negotiation, and patience, you will be able to successfully work through disputes and achieve the car accident settlement you need.
Getting the Right Car Accident Settlement
Receiving the right car accident settlement depends on the ability to value your claim correctly. The value of your claims rest on many factors—severity, location, degree of negligence, etc.. In order to prove your claim, document everything! Any information about the accident, any bills that you have paid to get medical treatment, any estimates for property damage, and any other piece of information that will support your story about what happened and the damages that you are allegedly owed. Make the argument for the claim value you deserve clearly and objectively.
Keep in mind that your insurance company may value your claim settlement lower than you do, meaning you might need to negotiate a fair settlement. Your negotiations can go back and forth until the two of you reach an agreement, so do your best to stay patient and keep an open mind about what you consider a fair settlement. While it is important not to rush things, you need to be sure to stay on top of it! If you feel too much time has elapsed between contacts, follow up. Take notes along the way in case you have to work through any of the alternative routes.
If you feel the car insurance adjuster is pushing you towards a settlement that you know to be too low, don't continue working with that person. Go through the appropriate levels of authority and get the settlement that you deserve.
Speaking with the Car Accident Adjuster
While it is important to be respectful and courteous, it is also important to be firm and savvy in order to negotiate a fair settlement without the help of an attorney. Car insurance adjusters are supposed to save the insurance company money and you should be aware of that before you work with them. Follow some simple tips about what to do, and, just as importantly, what NOT to do when working with a car insurance adjuster:
- When you report a car accident, you should be reasonable and polite. Stick to the facts of the accident and your recovery efforts and leave your feelings out of the discussion. Avoid giving the impression that everything is alright, even in casual conversation. If the car insurance adjuster asks about your injury, advise them that you are under a doctor's care and that you will keep her updated. Keep your conversations about the facts.
- If the car insurance adjuster asks for a recorded statement, politely decline it. Instead, ask if an adjuster can meet you in person. Do not sign a written statement or tape record a statement over the phone. Simply verbally give your side of the story for insurance claim as it occurred.
- Keep 100% accurate records of EVERYTHING surrounding the claim. Save all emails and letters. Note the dates and times of all phone conversations. Ask for any promises or commitments in writing. Take detailed notes of every conversation. Keep all your bills and expense receipts. Make copies of every document, store them in a safe place and be diligent about your documentation throughout the process.
- If you are asked to have an independent medical examination (IME) by the car insurance adjuster, politely decline. You are under no obligation to have an IME. Put the insurance adjuster off until you have finished treatment with your own physician. The insurance adjuster can always request your treatment notes from your physician.
Negotiation your own car insurance settlement can be a little frustrating at times but with the right claim value, the documentation to prove your value and a little tenacity and patience, you will be able to obtain the car accident settlement you deserve within days. At any time, you can consult with a car accident attorney to get advice or legal assistance. If your claim is for a significant amount of money, and your car insurance company has either denied your benefits or is offering you a very low settlement, then an attorney can be an important ally!