When to Say Yes to An Insurance Settlement Offer
In New Jersey, if you have been involved in a car accident and suffered harm, you must go through the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation. However, dealing with an insurer is often frustrating and complex, so you should get help from an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows all the tactics insurance companies try to employ. You should also know when you should accept a settlement offer.
Should You Accept the First Offer?
Car accidents are stressful and can take up a lot of your time. With all the frustration you experience, it can be tempting to accept the first offer that’s offered by the insurance company. This is usually the wrong move. Typically, it’s a lowball offer that is insufficient to cover the costs of your medical expenses, vehicle damage, lost wages and other expenses you incur after a car accident. Insurance companies are notorious for making settlement offers that are too low to reimburse you for your damages fairly.
It’s important to know that you’re under no obligation to accept that first offer. Usually, that initial offer is the insurer’s way of testing you. Your lawyer will be able to offer you essential advice and even handle things for you due to their experience dealing with insurance companies. There is also the option of sending a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This should be addressed to the insurance adjuster who made the first offer and should include all the pertinent details of the accident, your injuries and medical treatment. It should also list a dollar amount that you are willing to accept as satisfactory compensation.
What If You Get a Low Offer?
It’s typical for the insurance adjuster to try to get you to accept a settlement amount that’s lower than what your case is actually worth. Insurance companies don’t want to deal with injured parties and wish to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. However, if you receive a low offer, you should ask the insurance adjuster to justify that amount. Request specific reasons why the offer is low, and make notes on the answer.
The reason it’s a good idea to do this is that, often, the adjuster may raise the settlement amount after such a question. You can also ask them for a reply to your demand letter.
What Happens Next?
You are entitled to make a counteroffer to the insurance company after rejecting the first one they make. As previously mentioned, it’s wise to include that in your demand letter addressed to the insurance adjuster.
All car accident cases vary, but when trying to get a settlement, you can expect the following to occur:
- The insurance company makes you an offer that is less than the satisfactory amount that you truly deserve and much lower than your claim is worth.
- Along with your attorney, you create a detailed demand letter in response that requests more money than what the insurer originally offered as your settlement.
- Your personal injury attorney corresponds directly with the insurance adjuster via phone calls and writing to negotiate your settlement amount. While your lawyer asks for a higher number, the insurance adjuster tries to offer a lower amount.
- Your attorney and the insurance adjuster ultimately agree to a settlement amount that is satisfactory for both parties. You then sign a release of liability, and the insurer pays you the settlement.
If your injuries are severe, the negotiations can go back and forth for weeks or even months. However, if they’re minor, or the only damage is to your vehicle, negotiations may take a shorter time.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Dealing with an insurance company requires the knowledge and experience to get the best possible settlement. This is why you need a lawyer to handle things for you. You are also personally involved due to your injury, but an attorney can handle the injury claim objectively without being stressed or emotional.
If you were injured in a car accident in New Jersey, you need the best possible personal injury lawyer on your side. Contact Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P., to discuss your case. Call (732) 247-3600 to reach our New Brunswick office, (908) 448-2560 for our Somerville office and (732) 828-2234 for our Freehold location.