Did you know that most personal injury cases settle without ever needing to go to trial? This fact surprises many people, but there are key advantages to a settlement. Principally, an accident victim can obtain necessary compensation much faster, and they can avoid the stress and uncertainty of a trial.
However, negotiating a favorable settlement takes skill and preparation. All too often, accident victims who are not represented by a lawyer agree to settlements that do not protect their rights. The money they accept is far too low for their injuries, but they cannot receive more after accepting the settlement. Below, our Houston personal injury lawyer offers his best 5 tips for negotiating a strong settlement with an insurer.
Keep All Bills Related to Your Accident
An accident victim can receive compensation to cover the cost of medical care, property damage (like car damage), and lost income. You should keep copies of your medical bills and any receipts for prescription drugs. Have a folder at home or, if you can, scan and create digital copies. Find your most recent pay stubs and hold onto them, too, since they establish the value of your lost income.
You’ll need to prove with some certainty how much money you lost in the crash, and all this paperwork can do just that.
Document Your Pain & Suffering
Accident victims should receive a fair sum for their pain, mental distress, and other non-financial losses. But how much? There is no set formula used in Texas. Instead, you should receive a fair amount—depending on what kind of pain and inconvenience you can prove.
We recommend keeping a pain journal where you write down every day how you are feeling. Describe your mood and whether your injuries limited what you could do that day. This type of contemporaneous evidence is quite powerful.
Develop a Negotiation Strategy
No one should go into negotiations blind. You should spend some time thinking of the following:
- How much you want in compensation
- The minimum amount you will accept in a settlement
- How much do you think you can get if you go to court
These numbers might all be different. For example, you might want $120,000 to settle an accident claim. But, based on your evidence, you think a jury would give you about $100,000. And the absolute minimum you will accept is $90,000.
With these numbers in mind, you can negotiate compensation. Specifically, you can lead with the top number—what you want. If the insurer agrees to it, great. If not, you can negotiate down. But if the other side won’t hit your minimum, you go to court.
Draft an Effective Demand Letter
Your demand letter should clearly explain the accident and why the other side is at fault. Then you state how much you want in compensation to settle. A demand letter should have correct grammar and be easy to read. It should also be persuasive. Include details about your medical treatment and pain.
Hire an Accident Lawyer in Houston at Husain Law + Associates
Why negotiate your own settlement when an experienced lawyer can do it for you? At Husain Law, our lawyers have honed their skills sitting across from our state’s largest insurers. We know how to “bump up” a settlement so that our Sharpstown, Mid-West, Southside Place, Old Braeswood, Rice Village, Southampton, River Oaks & all Houston, TX clients are fully compensated for their losses. Contact us to learn more.