If you’ve been involved in a South Carolina car accident, the prospect of negotiating with an auto accident claims adjuster can be intimidating. Many people feel overwhelmed at the prospect and prefer to have their South Carolina personal injury attorney handle things. While that is usually the best bet, particularly serious injury cases, sometimes the matter might be small enough for you to handle on your own. For more information about how to conduct a negotiation with an adjuster, keep reading.
An adjuster’s job
An adjuster is someone that an insurance company has hired to assess the value of your automobile accident claim. The adjuster needs to consider the value of the car, the damage done to yourself and the vehicle and the cost of repairs before he or she can reach a figure to close your case file.
Given that the money will be paid out by the insurance company, it is obviously in that company’s (and the adjuster’s) best interest to keep these payments as low as possible. The reality is that adjusters are given the task of settling accident claims for as little money as possible. During a negotiation, realize that the adjuster’s job is not to ensure you receive fair compensation, but to minimize the cost to his or her employer. As a result, don’t expect the adjuster to care about you or the damage you suffered. It’s not personal, it is simply their business.
You can bet that an insurance adjuster will be fully prepared before beginning any negotiation with you over the damage suffered in your South Carolina car accident. As a result, you also need to be prepared and come to the negotiations with as much information as possible. Before you agree to speak to the claims adjuster, it’s a good idea to have some papers in front of you. Make sure to gather your accident report, medical records, repair bills, damage estimates, appraisals and any records from work regarding unpaid time off. You need to have an idea of the total figure of your damages, so make sure to add everything up before speaking to the adjuster.
By coming to the negotiation prepared, you can guarantee the adjuster does not overwhelm you with facts and figures. Knowledge is power, and it is essential that you surround yourself with as much evidence as possible when negotiating with the adjuster. Simply saying you want more money won’t work; you must justify your request with hard evidence if you want to be successful.
As with any negotiation, you always want to leave yourself room to maneuver. The reality is that the first offer you make represents a kind of ceiling and things will only go lower from there. As a result, you want to make sure you start the negotiation with a figure that is larger than what you would need to be fully compensated. If you don’t, you might wind up settling for less money than you need.
Claims adjusters are busy people with a high volume of cases. Their job requires them to settle these cases quickly and move on to other matters. Additionally, the insurance companies have discovered that moving fast is their best way to get injured motorists to agree to a low sum. To get things settled fast, many adjusters will try and pressure accident victims into settlement as soon as possible. You need to resist this push and wait until all your bills, especially medical, have arrived. If you think you may need future surgery or treatment, never agree to a settlement until that has been fully dealt with. Once you sign an agreement, you can’t go back later and reopen negotiations to deal with future medical trouble. Always wait until you have all your final bills before moving ahead with settlement. However, you must also be mindful of the statute of limitations, which is the time period after your accident that you can bring a lawsuit. You will not be able to settle your claim or file your lawsuit after the expiration of the statute of limitations. If you are not sure of the length of the statute of limitations that applies to your accident, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney.
Don’t settle for less than you deserve
In some cases, no amount of negotiating will work to force the insurance company to cough up more money. In these cases, if the offer is substantially below what you need to be made whole, you might be better off handing your case over to an experienced personal injury attorney who can file suit on your behalf. At the end of the day, an insurance company settles for the amount that it believes it will lose in a lawsuit. Even the threat of a lawsuit can be all it takes to push some insurance companies into settling, but often an insurance company is not truly threatened that you will file a lawsuit until you have hired an attorney to do it. Therefore, having a good lawyer on your side who isn’t afraid of taking the case all the way to court is one of the biggest advantages in a negotiation.
If you have questions about your case, and would like a free consultation, contact Greenville Accident Attorney David r. Price, Jr. at 864-271-2636, or click the “LIVE CHAT” button on this page.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.