If you have been involved in an auto accident, you have suffered damages. As part of the personal injury claim process, you will send a demand letter to the insurer of the other driver.
This demand letter will summarize the accident, detail your damages and losses, and then come up with a value for your claim. You will ask the other driver to compensate you that amount to cover your expenses and losses related to the crash.
However, usually you will not be paid that dollar amount. Instead, that will be a starting point for your accident injury claim. The insurance company will most likely respond and might make you an offer. The offer will be much less than what you asked for in your demand letter.
Instead of accepting this offer to avoid court, you should make a sample counter offer that has a figure higher than their offer but lower than the figure in your initial demand letter.
What To Include In Counter Offer
In the letter, you will need to refer to the offer made by the insurance company and when it was made. You will then need to reiterate why you think you are owed damages from the other party and why you think that offer was low.
Then detail your original amount in the initial demand letter then come back with a counter offer. As an example, you might start your letter out by stating:
“In our conversation yesterday, you relayed the message that the insurance company was willing to settle my personal injury claim for $3,000. However, this offer is much too low and is not supported by the facts of the accident.”
It might continue, depending on the allegations, “You alleged that I was partially liable for the auto accident. This is not supported by the facts. According to the accident report, your insured was at fault for the crash that resulted.”
You would then want to include some basic details that support your argument.
Adjusting The Value Of The Claim
You might then want to say because of the slight possibility of some minor comparative negligence, I am willing to reduce my settlement demand by 10% from $10,000 to $9,000.
I am demanding $9,000 to settle the car accident with your insured. Please respond to my request for settlement within 14 days of receiving this letter.
You will then want to send the letter with delivery confirmation, so you can be sure that the other party received it and the date on which it was received.
This way, you can watch for a response within the next 14 days and if that response is not received, you can take additional action.
Factors Included In a Settlement
Before you start the settlement process you should know what factors will influence the other driver’s insurance company when it comes to making a settlement offer. The insurance company will assign an adjustor to the case to go over all the evidence and make a determination of how much money is fair compensation for your damages.
The first thing an adjustor will do is look at the police report of the accident and your account of the accident looking for any discrepancies. Then the adjustor will look over the repair bills for your vehicles, medical bills that you’re sent over, and any other evidence you have provided about your losses, pain, and suffering. The adjustor will be looking for ways to reduce the amount of money that the company will have to pay out.
Then the adjustor will consider how much time, money, and resources would go into fighting your claim in court. If the cost of going to court is high or there is a good chance that you will win in court because you have evidence backing up your claim, then the adjustor will usually recommend a settlement amount that will be cheaper for the company than going to court.
Writing a Demand Letter
When you are writing a demand letter you are explaining the damages that you have suffered and what compensation is appropriate for those damages. It’s common for people to downplay the extent of their injuries, or the inconvenience caused by having a car that is in the shop for a long time, or to minimize the long term damages that they will experience because of the accident. But the amount of money that you ask for in the demand letter should be an honest reflection of the amount of the damages that you incurred plus compensation for pain and suffering.
The demand letter that you write should be clear and well organized. In order to get approximate values for items that were damaged or medical expenses that you incurred as a result of the accident you may need to do a little research. For example, if your car was totaled in a car accident you will need to find out what the value of the car is today so that you know how much money to ask for in order to replace it.
When you research the cost of the items that you’re going to replace, make sure that you always choose the high end of the cost spectrum. That will give you some wiggle room in the amount that you’re asking for.
For example, if you had an iPhone in the car with you and the iPhone was destroyed at one store the phone might cost $700 but at another store it could cost $1100. List the value of the iPhone as $1100. If you do that you can compromise the amount of money that you’re asking for but still receive enough to replace your phone if you buy it from the store with the least expensive prices.
After you have sent the demand letter the other driver, or their insurance company, will send you an offer. The offer is what they think your damages and pain and suffering are worth. This amount will always be lower than the amount you asked for in the demand letter because they want to negotiate a smaller amount than you asked for.
Try not to react emotionally when you get the offer and keep in mind that their motivation is most likely to pay as little as possible. Some people may be tempted to take the first offer in order to avoid going to court or drawing out the process but that’s not a smart move to make. You deserve compensation for all of your damages not just some of them.
Sample Counter Offer
When you receive an offer from the insurance company the letter you receive will have a low offer with some reasons given for the reduced amounts. In your response you should counter their claims and reiterate why you should receive a higher amount. A good example of a counter offer letter is:
Dear [Adjuster’s name]
I received your letter offering a settlement of $10,000 for my claim. However, none of the reasons that you stated in your letter that would make such a low figure reasonable are accurate. Your claim that the accident was due to negligence on my part is disproven by the police report which states clearly that [other driver] was at fault. Your claim that my soft tissue injury won’t cause long term pain and suffering holds no value since you are not a medical professional that is qualified to determine the long term impact of the injury.
However, in the interest of expediting the process I am willing to lower my initial demand of $60,000 by 5% and accept $57,000 as compensation for my damages, pain, and suffering in this matter. This offer expires two weeks today on X date.
Tips For The Settlement Process
The settlement process can be an emotional one but getting emotional isn’t going to make the process any smoother. Some tips that will help you get through the settlement process include:
Don’t take anything personally – The insurance company wants to pay as little as possible and they will do whatever they can to lower the amount that they have to pay.
Get advice- The best thing you can do is have a lawyer that specializes in these kinds of cases. They are used to dealing with insurance companies and know how to negotiate a fair settlement that will get you the compensation you deserve.
Don’t take the first offer – The insurance company will always offer an extremely low offer the first time to see how you react. Don’t take it. Always send a counter offer and keep negotiating until you get a settlement you’re happy with.
Settlement Counter Offer
When you first submit your demand letter to the at fault person’s insurer, this is typically the starting point for your accident injury claim.
The insurance company’s offer is likely to be much less than what you demanded in your demand letter. You don’t need to accept this offer but you should compile a sample counter offer that sets an amount which is more realistic of your real losses due to necessary medical treatment, property damage and psychological and emotional effects on you.
Instead of accepting this offer to avoid delaying a settlement, or having to go to court, you should make a sample counter offer that is a figure higher than their offer but lower than the figure in your initial demand letter.
There are 3 steps involved in submitting a counter letter offer
Step 1: Determine the value of your claim
You should be as complete as possible about the value of your claim. This is typically a combination of economic damages (medical treatment and property damage) and non-economic damages (compensation for pain and suffering and possibly punitive damages).
Step 2: Compare your claim value to the adjuster’s value
The adjuster will almost always propose a lower value than the amount you have claimed. Look carefully at the adjuster’s figures and rationale for a lower figure. You will be looking to adjust your original claim to somewhere between your original claim value and that of the adjuster.
Step 3: Prepare the counter offer
This is best done with the help of a personal injury attorney who will have experience dealing with insurers over claim discrepancies.
Consult With A Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been involved in an auto accident, you should enlist the help of an accident injury lawyer. Personal injury claims are challenging, so you need an experienced legal professional representing you. If you are wondering, do you have to pay for a lawyer upfront, the answer is no. Personal injury attorneys are paid on contingency fees.
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