Negotiation and Settlements in Colorado Personal Injury Cases
Though many personal injury victims dread the notion of protracted, contentious litigation, the fortunate fact of the matter is that the majority of claims are settled out of court well before a trial is ever needed. Negotiations, when handled with requisite skill and knowledge, routinely prove fruitful in ensuring that those harmed by the negligence of others receive the compensation to which they are entitled. If you are among those who have suffered accidental injuries and loss, you owe it to yourself to familiarize yourself with the negotiation and settlement process and learn how a seasoned attorney can help secure the accountability and justice the situation demands.
Making a Strong Impression
Despite the fact that a personal injury victim may feel that their case is so clear-cut and the injustice so manifest that a beneficial settlement is all but certain, the fact is that without adequate preparation, things can go downhill rather quickly. Insurance adjusters prefer claimants who appear to lack real knowledge of the process as well as those who lack professional legal guidance. Therefore, coming from a position of strength can be one of the best strategies an injury victim can employ upon the commencement of settlement talks.
Letters of this type represent a victim’s primary opportunity to explain the losses suffered, the medical treatments already received, ongoing expenses anticipated and the like. A dollar figure may be included in such a letter so as to get the process of discussions started. Of course, the insurance adjuster is certain to begin attempting to undermine elements of the claim, doubting that extensive medical treatments were in fact needed or calling into question other aspects of the arguments being made. A reduced counteroffer will likely be made as a means to assess how desperate the claimant is to reach a quick settlement. If the amounts discussed remain unsatisfactory, talks must continue.
Ongoing Inclusion of Mounting Losses
It is critically important for victims of negligence to continue documenting each category of loss suffered even after settlement discussions have begun. Though a claimant is sure to have a dollar figure in mind at the outset of negotiations, there is a good chance that the damages will continue to mount even as discussions progress. Additional impairment may reveal itself with the passage of time and lost wages may spiral beyond initial expectations. Documentation of every type of loss being claimed is vital, as insurance company personnel will need to be able to justify to his or her superiors every payout ultimately made.
Starting High, Meeting in the Middle
Personal injury claimants must understand that the role of an insurance adjuster is not to make certain that maximum compensation is received for the losses suffered. Rather, the overriding motivation is to save as much money as possible for his or her employer by limiting or even denying claims that may indeed have merit. Therefore, it is wise for victims to start by seeking a dollar figure that is significantly higher than would ultimately be accepted, to allow room for the inevitable attempts by the adjuster to bring the number lower and lower.
The Effect of Policy Limits
Even the most effective negotiating strategy cannot negate the existence of applicable insurance policy limits. Adjusters are simply unable to enter into settlements in excess of the policy’s own limitations. It is useful, therefore, to learn the limits on the policy in question in order to facilitate more effective negotiations. Having the true figure at hand can keep claimants from spinning their wheels attempting to get more than is actually available. If a low limit is in place and demonstrable losses are significant, it may be possible to receive the full limit amount without a great deal of difficulty.
Knowing Claim Details Inside and Out
Insurance adjusters admitted have a certain degree of power in any settlement negotiation because they occupy the role of middleman between the claimant and compensation, there are ways for victims to maximize their leverage as well. Someone injured due to negligence is in a position to understand the details of the claim better than anyone. The injuries, side effects and inconvenience stemming from the event remain extremely vivid to such individuals, and they have the unique ability to communicate the loss in an effective way. Being in possession of extensive documentation of medical diagnoses, prescribed treatments and financial costs is yet another way for victims to bring great bargaining authority to bear. Speaking with confidence in terms of the overall impact the accident has had only serves to bolster a victim’s credibility.
Aligning with an Experienced Attorney
Though it is of course possible for accident victims to proceed with settlement negotiations on their own, it is not uncommon for adjusters to take unrepresented individuals less seriously than those who are aligned with legal counsel. Adjusters may make the hasty assumption that an unrepresented party will have little understanding of the process and be willing to believe anything that is told to them by the carrier. Tactics are more likely to be employed against a claimant that would never be tried in the presence of an attorney. A claimant who bears partial responsibility for the event in question may even be told that they are thus ineligible for compensation, a proposition which is contrary to Colorado law.
These potential pitfalls can be sidestepped by enlisting the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney who possesses vast experience negotiating with insurance carriers. Comprehensive investigation of the accident itself can be conducted, detailed evidence can be collected and thorough documentation of all categories of loss can be assembled so that attempts by even the most stubborn adjusters to deny a claim may be successfully thwarted.
Fighting for Fairness on Behalf of Colorado’s Injured
With his past history of experience working for an insurance company, attorney Jeremy Rosenthal knows all too well the strategies routinely utilized by adjusters to deny fair payment of claims. As a result, he is uniquely prepared to help injury victims develop their cases, assemble crucial evidence and build persuasive arguments designed to secure maximum financial recovery at the negotiation stage or, if necessary, by taking a matter through to trial. If you would like to schedule a no-cost consultation to learn more, contact us at 303.825.2223.