The most important thing you should do before negotiating with an insurance company regarding a claim is to schedule a consultation with an attorney. Meeting with an attorney for a consultation does not mean that you have to hire them for your case. In fact, most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations.
During the discussion, you’ll learn negotiation tactics and tips for calculating a fair settlement amount. If you don’t feel comfortable meeting an attorney or you’re unsure about how helpful that will be for you, there are several things you should do before you talk to the insurance company.
1. Collect Evidence
At the scene of the accident, you should’ve taken photos and documented the scene as best as you could. Work with the local municipality to obtain a copy of the police report that documents the at-fault party in the accident. If you believe you’re wrongly named as the at-fault party, this is when having an attorney can be especially helpful.
2. Seek Medical Attention, When Needed
Do not ignore even slight pain after an accident. Something as simple as a headache could be a sign of something far more severe. Get a checkup with your family doctor if you’re unsure about your symptoms or experience something that gives you even the slightest concern.
If you are diagnosed with a post-accident ailment, ask for a copy of your medical records documenting those injuries. This will be another important piece of evidence in your case.
3. Calculate a Fair Settlement Amount
Once you’ve completed the necessary medical care and gotten a few quotes on fixing your damaged property, you’re ready to start calculating a fair settlement amount. Don’t forget to include these areas of expenses when making your calculations.
- Property damage (including vehicles, damaged contents, car seats, etc.)
- Medical care, both existing and future
- Missed work
- Reduced capacity to work
- Pain and suffering
Getting pain and suffering without legal representation can be challenging. There is no simple calculation for how much you should ask for when it comes to pain and suffering. But an attorney is skilled at providing evidence that demonstrates what you went through.
4. Read up on Negotiation Tactics
Hopefully, you won’t need to negotiate too heavily. But some basic negotiation skills will serve you well before beginning conversations with the insurance company. A few things to note are:
- Never state that you are not injured, even if during early conversations you aren’t experiencing pain. Late-onset injuries could surprise you
- Don’t accept the first settlement offer the insurance company makes because this will likely be a very low number
- When you counteroffer, aim a little higher than your minimum acceptable so that you have room to accept their counteroffer on your number
5. Be Wary of the Adjuster’s Questions
Answer questions with black and white answers, such as where and when the accident took place. But questions that ask for speculation you should defer to evidence, such as images from the scene or the police report. You don’t want to interject your thoughts into the case because the adjuster is likely recording the conversation and might use those details against you.
The most important thing to avoid is stating that you feel fine after the accident. If the adjuster asks about your injuries, just state you’re seeing a doctor or avoid the question entirely.
A Legal Team With In-Depth Knowledge on Indiana Injury Laws
Stewart & Stewart offers a free consultation to get to know you and your needs. If you’re unsure of how to handle negotiations or insurance company questions, our legal team will guide you. Don’t hesitate to contact us before talking to the insurance company.