You should avoid negotiating your own injury claim with an insurance adjuster. But sometimes you must. Here’s what to do in those situations.
Why on earth would we teach you how to negotiate with an insurance adjuster? Don’t we stand to make money by taking on your personal injury claim?
Well, in some situations, the settlement amounts are so small lawyers’ fees would gobble up anything you stand to gain. And a rare few will do it themselves no matter how hard we try to convince them otherwise.
So, in those situations, here’s the guide to successfully negotiating your injury claim with an insurance adjuster:
1) Remember, They’re NOT on Your Side
Always operate with this belief in mind. You’ll get tempted to think otherwise because insurance adjusters are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
They’re nice because they know you’re more likely to be cooperative and pursue less money if they act that way.
But in reality, they’re paid based on how little they get you to settle for, how fast they settle your claim, and if they keep your case out of their supervisor’s stressful, high case load.
Don’t buy the ruse. They’re the big bad wolf dressed like grandma – and you’re the delicious-looking little red riding hood.
2) Don’t Jump at Their First Offer
Their first offer has one primary goal: to see if you’re a sucker or not.
They want you to get excited by the dollar value and say “we’ll accept” on the spot. They’ll also offer to get you the check within a week – maybe two, depending on how fast they can get in touch with the other party involved in your claim.
The first offer is always a low-ball. They might come back at you with some ridiculous reasons your settlement isn’t worth what you think.
Don’t buy into those. They’re just a negotiating tactic.
3) You’ll Probably Have to Lower Your Offer a Little
After this first offer, you’ll have a chance to respond. Lower your first offer, but only slightly, like 5% or so.
They’ll come back at this offer with a counteroffer – higher than their original. You may have to accept this offer, but you can certainly counteroffer as much as you’d like.
4) Remember the Statute of Limitations is On Your Side
In Texas, you have 2 years to settle your personal injury claim. And that law takes effect from the date you are injured.
The insurance company will try to make the process fast and exciting so you get emotionally wrapped up in it. You’re more likely to make mistakes when you’re excited.
But, be happy to stall, delay, or dawdle as much as you want within that 2-year limit (within reason – don’t wait until your statute of limitations is about to run or a personal injury lawyer might not be willing to assist you if you need one).
It makes the insurance company realize you’re not going to bite on their lowball offers. And the more it drags out, the more time and money you cost them (and they don’t want that).
5) You Can Call a Personal Injury Lawyer at Any Time
If you are in a situation where you realize legal counsel can help, give one a call. Until you sign the insurance company’s document acknowledging the case is settled, you have the option of retaining a lawyer for your personal injury.
And some happily give basic advice for free, which could improve the outcome of your settlement slightly.
You should especially get in touch with an injury attorney if:
- Your case is worth more than a few thousand dollars and it involves severe injuries
- You want future bills covered, like medical bills
- The insurance company doesn’t acknowledge their party’s fault
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Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.