The 3 ways a car accident lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company
When you're hurt in a car accident, the last thing you want to do is deal with the insurance company on your own. Your focus should be on healing and putting your life back together. That's where we come in. Here's how we handle negotiations on behalf of our clients, from start to finish.
1. We will communicate with the insurance company
Once you retain our law firm to represent you in a personal injury matter, we contact the insurance company and inform them that they can send all further communications to us. If they need information from you, they have to go through your attorney. If they need a statement from you, we'll sit down with you to draft a written statement that accurately represents your side of the story and protects your rights (as opposed to a recorded statement that they could alter or take out of context to use against you).
This is a critical step as we enter negotiations with the insurance company because we need to avoid giving them information that would give them the upper hand. In North Carolina, stopping the insurance company from blaming you for the accident is critical because of the contributory negligence standard: if you're found even partially at fault, you can't recover.
2. We investigate and collect the evidence needed to support your claim
A personal injury claim has two main components: liability and damages. To prove liability, we have to show that the insurance company's insured driver was at fault for your car accident. That may involve reviewing accident reports, collecting physical evidence from the scene, and talking to witnesses, among other steps. We may even retain accident reconstruction experts to help us get to the bottom of what happened. (Our firm advances the costs to do this, so you don't pay anything out of pocket.)
Second, we need to make the case for the full amount of damages (financial compensation) you need for your losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and so on. Once you accept a settlement from the insurance company, that's all you can get, so we work very hard to ensure it covers every loss you've suffered. In serious injury cases, we often retain experts to produce a long-term forecast to establish the extent of your damages. For instance, we may ask a doctor to assess whether you may need future surgery. Or we may ask an economist to quantify the effects of the accident on your long-term earning potential.
We also handle the property damage side of your claim. This includes the cost of repairs or a replacement vehicle, the diminished value of your repaired vehicle, and any other damaged property. Again, we may hire a professional appraiser to maximize your property damage claim if we don't agree with the insurance company's assessment.
3. We then make our demands (and prepare for trial)
We'll establish the full amount of compensation the insurance company is responsible for. Then, we'll make a formal demand and negotiate with the insurance company from there. Depending on the extent of your injuries and the circumstances of your accident, this can be a lengthy process. We always include our clients in settlement negotiations. The final decision as to whether to accept a settlement offer is yours.
Most car accident claims do settle out of court. Even so, we're always prepared to go to trial if we can't reach an agreement that meets your needs. Being ready and willing to go to trial puts us in a stronger position in negotiations. So, even if your case does settle, you still benefit from having a trial lawyer on your side.
Remember, the sooner you get us involved, the better positioned you'll be to get maximum value for your car accident. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with attorney Richard Flexner.