The First Offer and Negotiation in Personal Injury
“Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.”
― Carrie Fisher
After a Demand Package is sent to the at-fault party’s insurance company, the Insurance Adjustor then has 30 days (what is considered a reasonably amount of time) to respond with an initial offer. Typically, the Insurance Adjustor’s First Offer is a low-ball figure. I have seen cases which ultimately settled for six figures get a first offer below a thousand dollars. Many times, the letter which has the First Offer will try to make it seem like you have no case.
If there was less than $5,000 in damage to your car, the letter will usually say that because it was a low-impact hit, there was no mechanism for injury. If you are over the age of 40, it’s possible that the letter will say that your injuries were pre-existing and not caused by the accident. Many times, the First Offer letter will also try to assign some percentage of fault to you even though it was clearly 100% the other person’s fault. Obviously, the First Offer is made just to see if you will accept their minimal offer to settle. Remember, Insurance Companies are in the business of making money. The less money they get away with giving you, the better they are doing their job. Don’t be discouraged at this point. It’s all a part of the game.
The response to the First Offer will be a Counter-Offer. It’s typically better to not call the Insurance Adjustor, but rather to put everything in writing. The first counter-offer will politely reiterate the damages in a quick and concise way and state why more money is needed to settle the claim. After writing it, it’s best to fax the Counter-Offer and send a copy in the mail. The first Counter-Offer will look and sound something like this:
Dear Mr. Smith,
I am in receipt of your letter dated November 24, 2016, which included what you deemed “a most generous offer” of $10,000.00 to settle our client’s case. We thank you for your offer. Unfortunately, your offer is completely unreasonable and has been rejected by our client.
You stated that you made a careful review of the Demand Package, but then you contradicted yourself when you said that the accident was a low-impact hit. The Demand Package clearly stated that our client’s car had over $7,000.00 in damages from the impact. That is indicative of a very high-impact hit.
Additionally, you claimed that our client had minimal injuries as a result of the accident. As stated in my Demand Package, our client continues to suffer from C4/5 Posterior Bulging of the Disk, C5/6 Posterior Bulging of the Disk and C6/7 Posterior Herniation of the Disk Encroaching on the Anterior Subarachnoid Space and Both Neuroforamina. Our client has received a surgical recommendation and continues to suffer from intermittent muscle spasms, headaches and inflammation. Our client’s life has been drastically affected and his treating physician stated he has a 12% permanent impairment rating. There is nothing minimal about these injuries.
On top of all those injuries, our client still has $15,600.29 in outstanding medical bills. Your offer doesn’t cover the medical bills, let alone do anything to attempt to make our client whole again. In consideration of the foregoing, but in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution without the need to go to court, our client is prepared to accept $49,000.00 in full and final settlement of the claim.
The Insurance Adjustor will then most likely send another offer, this time offering more money to settle the claim. This will not be their highest offer yet. Another Counter Offer will then be sent, trying to make it sound like you have every reason to deserve more money. This same process will continue until you ideally get to the point that the Offer contains a financial amount which convinces you to settle the claim.
Sometimes, after several Offers and Counter Offers have been traded, the Insurance Adjustor still needs a little encouragement to raise the claim. At this point, we will let the adjustor know that we are ready and willing to take the case to court if they won’t negotiate in good faith. Sometimes we will send a sample Complaint and Discovery showing that we are completely prepared to take the claim to the next level. In other instances, we will file a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation with the state of Florida.
Remember, the best thing you can do is to call the Ticktin Law Group at (954) 570-6757 as soon as possible. By speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer and going over all the facts of your particular claim, you will get a much better idea of what steps you should already be taking, what the best way is to proceed with your case and what compensation you may be entitled to.