Writing a Reply Letter to Too Low Settlement Offer – What Injured People Should Know
It is no secret that an insurance adjuster will always do what it takes to reduce the settlement offer if the company must pay compensation to injured people after an accident.
However, that's unfair. Accident victims often have to pay for expensive medical treatment, usually lose earnings due to their inability to work, and must cover high legal fees.
Unfortunately, injured people do not always receive fair compensation for the injuries and losses they suffer. Insurance companies are always looking for a way to reduce the settlement offer or even deny their personal injury claims.
How can victims respond to an initial settlement offer if they believe it is not what they deserve? What should they do if it does not cover their medical bills, treatment costs, and pain and suffering?
Here's a comprehensive guide on how to draft a reply letter to respond to a low initial settlement offer, so victims can get fair compensation for the injuries they sustained.
Why an Insurance Adjuster Makes a Low Settlement Offer
Regardless of the type of accident or the extent of damages victims suffer, most insurance adjusters will begin the negotiation process with a low-ball settlement offer. This happens in almost every personal injury claim.
The main goal of adjusters is to settle personal injury claims for the lowest amount possible and as quickly as possible.
However, different factors can impact the initial settlement offer. Before the negotiation, the insurance adjuster begins to investigate the case by doing the following:
Talk to the policyholder
Review witness interviews
Study police reports and accident reports
Examine medical records
After that investigation, the insurance adjuster will review the information and facts in the initial demand letter and compare these details with their findings.
An insurance company always makes an initial settlement offer after assessing the damages that injured people suffer and investigating the case to determine liability.
Other Factors That Often Affect Injury Compensation
After sustaining injuries in an accident caused by someone else's actions, victims and their legal teams calculate the value of their claims based on the amount of money they need to cover related expenses.
Overall, the value of a personal injury claim is the combination of the hard costs with any additional amount that victims can recover for their pain and suffering.
Insurance adjusters tend to consider the same factors to calculate what a personal injury case is worth. However, they often make value changes after the base calculations.
Insurance companies make value changes to their initial calculations if adjusters believe the following:
Claimants have a percentage of fault for the accident or circumstances that caused their injuries.
The injuries arose from preexisting conditions and were not entirely caused by the accident.
There is not enough evidence to justify the number of days that injured people missed work.
The treatments and tests that victims underwent were excessive or out of proportion according to their injuries.
Claimants exaggerated their injuries or made them look worse by delaying required treatment or failing to follow doctors' recommendations.
It is important to know that Tennessee law only requires insurers to cover reasonable and customary medical expenses. Additionally, each company has its own criteria.
Some adjusters are skeptical of personal injury claims for whiplash or other soft tissue injuries, for example. Others reduce the value of medical treatment if it is provided by a chiropractor instead of a physician.
Insurers also have experience handling personal injury cases and are familiar with "accident doctors" who can inflate medical bills by ordering unnecessary tests and treatments. This can greatly affect the settlement offer.
Additionally, the at-fault party's insurance company is not legally required to fully compensate victims for their injuries, even if there are no factors that would lead to a reduction in the claim value.
An insurer will only pay out the sum both parties are willing to accept after negotiations.
Why Respond to a Low Initial Settlement Offer?
Accidents that result in serious injuries cause victims to incur huge medical bills, harming their well-being and financial stability.
Injured people are often rushed to the hospital and spend some time there receiving treatment. Additionally, most people miss work due to their injuries. As a result, bills pill up.
Unfortunately, this also adds emotional trauma and mental anguish on top of these mounting bills. A low settlement offer is very unfair considering the financial strain and personal struggles victims often endure.
Overall, many claimants respond to low settlement offers because they believe that the suggested amount will not cover the expenses incurred due to the accident. This is part of the negotiation phase to get fair compensation.
In most personal injury cases, there are several offers and counteroffers before settling the claim. However, this process may be time-consuming for injured people.
Additionally, claimants must consider different aspects when responding to a low personal injury settlement offer to obtain the best possible outcome. These are:
Their out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident or injuries, such as property repair or replacement, medical bills, and future medical costs
The road to recovery or how long it will take for victims to fully recover from physical and emotional wounds
The severity or extent of the injuries, complications, and other health issues related to the accident
The number of working days victims have lost due to their injuries
Steps to Respond to a Low Settlement Offer
Injured people are not legally required to accept a low offer if it is not sufficient to cover the damages and losses resulting from the accident. Victims don't even have to handle the negotiations themselves but can hire a seasoned personal injury attorney to do so.
If they must respond to an unfair settlement offer, claimants should work with an experienced attorney to determine the best course of action based on their particular situation.
When they are well-represented, victims have a higher chance of success. Therefore, the first thing injured people should do is get legal assistance from a professional attorney, even before sending the initial settlement demand letter.
After that, claimants and their legal teams should counteroffer by doing the following:
Avoid Responding Based on Emotions
A person who sustained serious injuries and incurred high expenses due to an accident caused by someone else's negligence may feel insulted if they receive a low settlement offer.
However, victims should not react emotionally to a lowball offer. As mentioned, they have no legal duty to handle the insurance claim themselves. Instead, they can ask their attorneys to handle the negotiation process.
Analyze the Initial Offer
Ideally, the claimant and their personal injury attorney should analyze the initial offer to determine if the company is willing to negotiate a fair settlement.
With the help of an experienced attorney, victims can analyze the initial offer's content and determine what is and is not acceptable to craft the counteroffer.
Write the Rejection of the Offer
After determining whether the initial settlement offer is too low, injured people should write the official rejection. This letter should be formal and professional. Attorneys can assist claimants while drafting this document.
Write the Response or Counteroffer
A personal injury lawyer can draft a counteroffer based on the amount of money their clients need to pay for their medical treatment, property damages, and other expenses.
When developing a counteroffer, personal injury attorneys should consider several factors, including the following:
The limits of the insurance policy according to the conditions set by the company
The assets of the individual at fault if the policy limits are not sufficient to pay the full value of the personal injury claim
As mentioned, claimants rarely accept the initial proposal. In most personal injury claims, there are many offers back and forth before both parties decide to settle the case.
Victims often work with attorneys to determine the minimum amount they are willing to accept for their personal injury claims.
Additionally, quality personal injury lawyers can help claimants file a personal injury lawsuit and take the case to court if negotiations stall out and the insurance company refuses to make a better settlement offer.
Analyze the Response in Detail
As injured people and their attorneys draft the formal response and the counteroffer, they will likely notice that the insurance company made faulty assumptions about the case.
In that case, the written response should include additional details that the claimant may have left out of the initial demand letter or that may clarify the insurer's false assumptions.
These details may include proof of lost income, medical bills, updated hospital records, police reports, and proof of non-economic damages. It is essential to explain how injuries, losses, and expenses have affected victims' lives.
Review the Case in Depth with a Personal Injury Attorney
Finally, injured people planning to respond to a personal injury settlement offer should analyze their cases to make sure they are making the right decision.
After sustaining injuries in an accident, it can take weeks, months, and even years for a person to know exactly how much money they need to cover their expenses or past and future income loss.
If victims have not fully recovered from their injuries, they should not settle a claim for the first offer, even if it seems huge. Instead, claimants should evaluate the situation and calculate the accurate value of their case taking into account their needs, resources, and objectives.
Luckily, a personal injury attorney can provide professional assistance through this process and help them determine the best course of action for writing a winning demand letter too.
What Happens If Victims Do Not Accept a Settlement Offer?
Claimants shouldn't rush to accept an offer if they believe it is unfair. However, they should keep the settlement negotiations moving along to avoid bad faith accusations. Therefore, they should send the reply letter as soon as possible if they have already heard back from the insurer after reporting the accident.
Most insurance companies limit how long claimants have to respond, but they probably expect that injured people will reject the initial offer because it is a back-and-forth process.
Additionally, negotiations hinge on a potential personal injury lawsuit. Actually, victims give up the opportunity to take further legal action for the same accident if they settle a case. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can advise on the notification letter in an injury claim.
Offers change based on these factors. As new evidence emerges and both parties make more legal considerations, one side may have a different proposal.
The facts that occurred in a case, the events that unfold after the accident, and the likelihood that injured people will win a lawsuit may influence settlement negotiations.
However, it is important to remember that victims may not be able to continue negotiating a settlement after they accept an offer.
What is the Role of a Personal Injury Attorney Through the Negotiation Process?
Since offers may change as both parties progress through the negotiation process, personal injury attorneys can provide the guidance victims need to determine the best course of action.
An attorney can evaluate each offer and consider the strengths and weak points of each case to negotiate in favor of injured people and advise them on the potential risks of accepting an offer or whether they should reject a proposal.
Additionally, if victims end up deciding that they will not accept the settlement offer, attorneys can offer legal counsel to help them understand their rights, build a solid case, and present evidence to the court.
Call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys!
As mentioned, a personal injury attorney is a trained negotiator willing to fight for victims' rights and help them recover the compensation they deserve.
Lawyers have the skills and necessary expertise to evaluate the injured person's situation and analyze settlement offers based on it.
Additionally, a seasoned attorney with extensive knowledge of personal injury law and who knows the ins and outs of the Indiana legal system can handle the difficulties of settlement negotiations to secure a positive outcome for victims.
If injured in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, claimants should not settle for a lowball offer. With the help of a lawyer from Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, they can negotiate the fair settlement they deserve. Contact us today and get a free consultation!