After being in an accident and suffering serious injuries, you should have the freedom to focus on your recovery. However, the odds are that at least one insurance company has already tried to contact you. What they want is a statement they can scrutinize to find a way to deny your claim or at least offer you a settlement well below what your case may be worth.
More than likely, the first settlement offer will definitely be insufficient to cover your financial losses and damages. The safe course of action for you may be to postpone talking to an insurance company before consulting with an attorney. The sooner you do so, the less stress and frustration you may have to endure during the negotiation process.
What comes next?
It is important to know that you do not have to accept that first settlement offer. Considering the potential financial losses and damages you are incurring, and may continue to incur, it may be tempting to do so, but it could end up being a costly mistake down the road. Instead, analyze the offer carefully. The low offer may be due to one or more of the following:
- The insurance company may not have all the information needed in order to properly value your claim.
- It may believe that you somehow contributed to the accident.
- The insurance company may believe it could prevail against you in court.
- It may be an opening gambit in the negotiation process.
Understanding the reasoning behind the offer will most likely help you in your response and in making a counteroffer. When you are ready, any response you send should be in writing. It will help begin a paper trail that will be necessary if you end up in court. While it is true that most of these matters do end up settling, you have no guarantee that it will, so it is best to be prepared from the start.
Depending on the insurance company’s response to your counteroffer, negotiations may result in a better settlement, or they could let you know you will need to take the next step and begin court proceedings. The problem is knowing what provides the best evidence to support your claim, how well the negotiations are going and whether you should exercise your right to file a court claim. You don’t need to make these decisions on your own. You would benefit greatly from working with an experienced and compassionate New York attorney.