Being involved in a car wreck can be a traumatic and overwhelming experience. Amidst the physical accident injuries and emotional distress, negotiating a fair settlement with insurance companies can add another layer of stress. Knowing these tips for negotiating a car accident settlement is crucial to ensure you receive proper compensation for your losses.
While Florida law gives you the right to full recovery, insurance companies are in business to make profits. They accomplish this by settling for the least amount possible or denying claims. To get a fair settlement, you should work with an experienced car accident lawyer.
# 1. Value your damages
The first step is to know what you’re negotiating for. Carefully value all types of damages you may be able to claim. Familiarize yourself with the types of damages available to you in a Florida car accident, including medical bills, rehabilitation services, lost work, property damage, and physical and emotional suffering.
You don’t want to ask for too much, but you don’t want to leave anything out. Once you have an honest assessment of the value of your claim, you can approach the insurance company with a plan in mind to negotiate a settlement.
# 2. Determine what you’re willing to accept and what you really want to recover
You should take some time to consider what amount is fair and what would really make you happy. It’s also important to determine what the lowest amount you’re willing to accept is.
Never tell the other side what your settlement goals are. Your objective is to get the maximum settlement that fairly represents your losses. Thinking about your settlement goals ahead of time is a way for you to have a baseline for negotiations and evaluate any settlement offers you receive.
# 3. Don’t be surprised if the insurance company gives you a low offer
While you want the maximum recovery, the insurance company wants the case to settle at the lowest possible amount. Never be surprised if they start with a very low offer. They’re hoping that you assume you have to accept any offer they give.
You might be upset and angry with the insurance company for being unfair. Remember, they’re using an insurance tactic in hopes you’ll bite and settle the case for much less than it’s worth. Take a deep breath, and remember you’re in negotiations.
Negotiating with the insurance claim adjuster
When negotiating with an insurance claim adjuster, it’s important to approach the process strategically and professionally. Here are some steps to take during the negotiation:
- Understand your claim thoroughly before entering into negotiations
- Create a thorough and itemized list of all damages or losses incurred due to the incident covered by your insurance claim
- Collect any supporting evidence that strengthens your claim
- Anticipate potential objections or counter arguments from the adjuster and prepare responses in advance
- During negotiations, remain calm, professional, and respectful when communicating with the adjuster
- Negotiate from a position of strength and use this leverage to negotiate for the best possible outcome
- Be open to compromise, listen, and consider alternatives proposed by the adjuster
- Put everything in writing to establish a clear record of the negotiation process and ensure both parties have a written understanding of the progress made
- Consider professional assistance if you find negotiating with the adjuster challenging or believe you’re not receiving a fair settlement offer
Negotiating with an insurance claim adjuster requires patience and persistence. Be prepared for multiple rounds of negotiation and always be willing to advocate for what you believe is a fair resolution.
Don’t accept first offers
During negotiation with an insurance claim adjuster, it’s advisable never to accept their first offer. Insurance companies often aim to settle claims for the lowest amount possible to minimize expenses. The adjuster’s first offer is often a starting point and may not reflect the total value of your claim. They are testing your willingness to negotiate and see if you’ll settle quickly.
Considerations for accepting a settlement offer
Some valid considerations when deciding whether to accept a settlement offer from an insurance claim adjuster include:
- Speed of the offer: Evaluating the timing of the offer is crucial. Accepting a reasonable and timely settlement may be beneficial if you’re facing immediate financial hardship or medical expenses.
- Potential compensation difference in court: Consider what you might receive if you take your case to court instead of accepting the current settlement offer
- Cost of going to court: Consider the associated costs such as attorney fees, court fees, expert witness fees, and potential expenses for gathering evidence or conducting investigations
- Uncertainty of a court decision: It’s essential to realize that going to court will result in a more favorable outcome than the current settlement offer
# 4. Keep notes of your strongest points for conversations
Speaking with an insurance adjuster can be intimidating. Keep notes of your most compelling points to help when you talk with them. That way, you’ll sound organized and serious about getting a fair recovery.
Jot down some notes about what you feel your strongest points are. It may also be helpful to consider how you might respond to some of the insurance company’s arguments against your case. Whatever information you need, you’ll have it right at your fingertips.
# 5. Have documentation of your damages ready to go
The insurance company may want you to verify your losses with financial records. That’s fair. Save documentation of your losses and expenses such as medical bills, vehicle repair bills, and information about lost work. You may need to document missed work with a note from your employer and copies of your pay stubs. Having the documentation helps prove your losses.
# 6. Be professional
Even though the insurance representative may be unreasonable or infuriating, don’t lose your temper. The goal is to show the insurance company that you mean business.
Staying polite and professional shows the insurance company that you’re serious about doing what’s necessary to get justice in your case. It shows the insurance company you’re a force to be reckoned with.
# 7. Be patient when you receive an offer
Don’t respond quickly if the insurance adjuster sends a settlement offer. If they give you an offer orally, ask them to put it in writing.
Responding too quickly sends the message that you’re desperate. You want the insurance company to know that you will work as long as it takes to get a fair settlement in your case.
# 8. Don’t assume your case is going to settle
Even though you hope your case settles, don’t assume it will — otherwise, you might neglect to gather crucial evidence.
If the insurance company knows you aren’t carefully preserving evidence, they might lowball you further because they know you’re not taking your case to trial. Continue to prepare and build your case as though it will ultimately end up in a courtroom.
# 9. Watch out for delays
If the insurance company starts delaying your case for no reason, be skeptical. If they try to deny your claim for weak reasons that don’t make sense or say that your case is continuously under investigation with little progress, it’s a red flag.
# 10. Contact an attorney if things begin to stall
When talks stall with the insurance company or if they stop calling you back, it’s time to work with an attorney. An attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and help you determine when it’s time to file a lawsuit.
How long after an accident should I file a claim?
It is advisable to file an insurance claim for a car accident as soon as possible. Contact your insurance company immediately or within 24 hours following the accident.
What mistakes should I avoid after a car accident?
After a car wreck, there are several mistakes you should avoid to protect your interests:
- Not reporting the accident: Florida law requires reporting crashes with at least $500 property damage, injuries, or death
- Trusting the insurance adjuster blindly: An insurance adjuster’s primary goal is to minimize costs. Be cautious when discussing the accident with them.
- Speaking without thinking: Avoid admitting fault or making statements that could be used against you later
- Giving a recorded statement without proper understanding: It’s crucial to understand that statements can be used against you. Consult with an attorney before giving any recorded statement.
- Signing anything without reviewing: Before signing any documents related to the accident, thoroughly review them or have them reviewed by a legal professional
Do I have to hire an attorney for an accident settlement case?
Hiring an attorney for an accident settlement case is not mandatory, but it can be beneficial depending on circumstances, such as:
- Complexity of the case
- Insurance company tactics
- Severity of injuries
- Knowledge of Florida laws and regulations
Does it matter if I was at fault in the accident?
Florida follows a “no-fault” law system, which means that regardless of who is to blame for the accident, each party involved can seek compensation from their own insurance company through personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
Under this no-fault system, your insurance company will typically cover a portion of your medical expenses and lost wages up to the limits of your PIP coverage, regardless of fault. However, fault does become important when you cause serious injuries to another, as they could pursue a personal injury claim against you.
Additionally, if you were partially at fault for the accident, Florida follows a comparative negligence rule. This means compensation awarded to the injured party is reduced by the percentage of their fault.
How can an attorney help?
Although negotiations can be stressful, Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, ensures you get the compensation you deserve. Our legal team of more than 40 experts has the experience to help you with every step and take on the insurance company.
If you need help negotiating with the insurance company after a car accident, call us at 813-333-6666 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case evaluation. There is no fee unless we win.
FLA. STAT. § 316.065. (2023).
FLA. STAT. § 627.737. (2023).
FLA. STAT. § 768.81. (2023).