A personal injury can result in many different types of losses including mental, physical, emotional and even financial. Securing compensation for these losses—especially when they were caused by someone else’s negligence—can be achieved by reaching an out-of-court settlement.
Going to trial is much more costly, risky, and time-consuming than arriving at an out of court settlement agreement. However, both parties could agree to settlement terms offered before the case goes to trial, with the responsible party providing the victim with the necessary compensation for whatever damages are stipulated in the contract, and in return those responsible avoid the possibility of a judgement against them that could be even more costly.
However, even though it’s clearly the best choice to do so, not everyone will hire a personal injury lawyer in Hamilton or Guelph to handle their settlement arrangement. So while it’s understandable that the victim will sometimes want to move on from the accident as soon as possible, from a legal and financial perspective, it’s always best to consult a professional in the field.
All settlement negotiations have common factors that can give a general idea of what to expect. With a clear understanding of how to settle your personal injury claim, you can reduce your stress during the process and focus your energies instead on healing and moving forward with your life.
What Happens during Settlement Negotiations?
The party making the claim starts the settlement process by sending a demand letter to either the party who was negligent or their representative, such as their insurance company. The party making the claim can send the letter only once they’ve seen a medical professional who has provided them with the results of their injury.
The contents of a demand letter include:
- The amount the victim wants for their compensation
- Details supporting the claim (medical report, etc.)
Bear in mind that the value of your claim must match the circumstances. In other words, the amount of compensation you ask for must reflect the liability of the individual while taking into account your own liability, if it is a factor. Your age, occupation and other characteristics can also affect the amount of compensation you can claim. It’s essential to draft a demand letter that asks for a fair amount. A lawyer that specializes in this kind of process is invaluable in this context.
Once you’ve submitted your demand letter, it may be weeks before you receive a reply from the insurance company. In some cases, they have a backlog, are actively investigating your claim, or simply ignore the letter.
An insurance adjuster will investigate your claim by interviewing witnesses, reviewing your hospital records, reading the police reports, and inspecting property damage. They will also ask you or your lawyer various questions to determine whether or not you have a right to your claim, such as:
- What are your injuries? Did the personal injury occur at work? They want to see if your policy will cover the accident.
- Who was at fault? They want to know who is liable.
- What kind of injury have you sustained? The insurance adjuster wants to know if it’s a disabling injury or one with long-term effects that can impact your capabilities at work and affect daily living.
- What are the types of procedures or therapies you will have to undergo? Were there any contributing factors to your injuries, such as pre-existing conditions?
When dealing with an insurance company, you must be careful about the information you give them since they look for any excuse to reduce your compensation or deny your claim altogether. The adjuster may also ask questions that are not necessary, and could be categorized as unfair settlement tactics to reduce the value of your claim. To assure you’re not led astray or taken advantage of, it’s in your best interest to hire a personal injury lawyer in Guelph.
Insurance adjusters often make a low counteroffer, which impatient people jump on instead of negotiating. Biding your time will often pay off, since the adjuster will eventually face the pressure of confronting a trial judgement that forces them to pay even more than the settlement value your counsel originally offered.
How Long Does a Settlement Negotiation Take?
The entire process of settlement negotiations can take weeks, months, or often years. It depends on:
- The strength of your claim
- How quickly you want to settle
- The insurance company’s cooperation, workload, and investigation
- The number of offers and counteroffers both parties send
- The amount you want
At Wynperle Law, we know that most people don’t want to have negotiations hanging over their heads and need help if they want to receive the compensation they deserve. A lawyer can act as the intermediary and allow you the time and breathing space you need to heal and move on from the accident.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
While you can speak with family members to find a good lawyer or use a lawyer referral service, the internet offers many options, including the Wynperle Law firm. Work with a lawyer who knows how to negotiate with an insurance company and who is compassionate towards your situation. We will provide you with the needed resources for your injuries while taking care of the settlement negotiations and any other legal proceedings that may take place.
Come in for a free consultation today!