Most auto accident claims in Houston end in settlement before ever going to trial. However, that doesn’t mean negotiating claims with the insurance company is easy. Unfortunately, many people walk away with significantly less than they might have because negotiation can be difficult.
An attorney can help you during your case in many ways, including gathering evidence and documents, helping you value your claim, and negotiating with insurance adjusters on your behalf. While you can negotiate with the insurance company yourself, working with an attorney offers several benefits.
Some factors can add layers of complexity to your case. For example, significant injuries, high costs for damages, and seeking compensation for future damages. Many people choose to hire an attorney to help with these types of claims because they can be complicated.
Whether you work with an attorney or decide to go it alone, there are a few pieces of advice that may help with settlement negotiations.
Know the Value of Your Claim: How to Determine the Worth of Auto Accident Claims in Houston
One of the first things you can do is understand the value of your claim. Often, people settle for much less because they don’t know what auto accident claims in Houston are worth. This amount should take into account your damages, such as property damage, injuries, medical expenses, and lost wages. Once you determine a value range, you can then decide on a minimum settlement amount you’re willing to take. Generally this information is for you alone, and not for the insurance adjuster. There’s usually no reason to tell them this minimum amount.
In many cases, the demand letter you send will ask for compensation higher than this minimum amount. This is to allow room for negotiation between you and the adjuster. However, sometimes you may need to revise this minimum based on your case. Details may come out that make your case weaker (or stronger), so you may want to keep this in mind as you go through negotiations.
How do you know the value of your car accident claim? This can be a complicated process. Your attorney can help you determine what your claim is worth and what amount to put in your demand letter.
Don’t Take the First Offer
While there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to negotiating a Houston auto accident claim, in many cases it’s best to use the first offer from the insurance adjuster as a jumping off point for negotiation. Most insurance adjusters will start off negotiations by offering a settlement below the value of your claim. They sometimes use this as a tactic to gauge whether you are willing to negotiate and whether you know what your claim is worth.
So, just as you asked for more than your minimum settlement amount to allow room for negotiation, the adjuster is likely starting at a lower point than what they’re willing to offer. If they offer an amount close to your minimum settlement amount, there may be other factors at play that increase your claim’s value. Therefore, you may want to look at this amount again and determine if you could be undervaluing your own claim. If so, you may want to change your minimum amount to be higher, depending on your case.
Ask Questions about Low-Ball Offers for Auto Accident Claims in Houston
What happens if you receive a settlement offer that is way below your minimum settlement amount? Rather than immediately lowering your claim value, try asking for specifics behind why the adjuster offered that amount. They’ll generally list specific details. Then you and your attorney can craft a letter with responses to each of these points if you think they’re incorrect. Your Houston auto accidents attorney can help you gather evidence to refute their points and advocate on your behalf.
Document Everything Related to Auto Accident Claims in Houston
Don’t forget to document all your damages from the auto accident. Insurance companies are unlikely to take your word for how much your medical expenses were or how much money you lost in wages from being unable to work. Having documentation you can send to back up your claim can be extremely helpful during the car accident claim negotiation process. Hiring an attorney early-on in your case may help you prepare all these records for your Houston auto accident claim.
Know the Extent of Your Injuries and Damages
As medical bills and auto repair bills start rolling in, many people understandably want to get the claim negotiation over with as soon as possible. However, it’s often better to wait until you know the full extent of your injuries and what to expect from your recovery. This can help you understand the full amount of damages from the car accident. Many people take settlements on auto accident claims in Houston only to realize it’s not enough to cover future accident-related expenses. Therefore, it may be in your interest to wait on agreeing to a settlement until your doctor clears you as fully recovered or says you’ve reached maximum medical recovery if your injuries are more permanent.
Houston Auto Accident Claim Negotiations Failed? You Still Have Options
If negotiations with the insurance adjuster fail, remember that you still have options! A Houston auto accidents attorney can help you determine a course of action if you can’t come to a fair agreement with the insurance company. For example, one option is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This often leads to further negotiation and even an out-of-court settlement, as it shows the insurance company you mean business. If needed, your attorney can advocate in court on your behalf to help you get compensation after a car accident.
Legal Advice from DeSimone Law Office after a Car Accident
After an accident, our experienced attorneys at DeSimone Law Office are here for you. We’ve helped settle thousands of auto accident claims in Houston. We’ll even cover your out-of-pocket costs while we help you with your case. Call us today at (832) 423-6398 to get a free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.