Car accidents can be devastating to both the victim and offender. If you’re the victim, you may have to go to a hospital, which can leave you with a lot of debt; you may also have to take time off from work, which can render you financially unstable. In such cases, your health insurance might not cover all these expenses, which is why there are financial settlement options. Negotiating a settlement as a legal agreement between two parties, in order to resolve an incident that resulted in damages is a real thing to do.
In the case of a car accident, a settlement is when you ask the other party for compensation to cover the expenses from the injuries resulting from the crash. In most cases, the other party will do anything to pay you as little as possible, but there are ways to negotiate a settlement so it goes in your favor.
1.Decide On A Minimum Amount
When putting together a settlement, you should decide on a fixed minimum amount that you`d be satisfied with. The average car accident settlement amount is $18,000, which includes the insurance company’s expenses, you could base your minimum amount around this number.
Before you can decide on the minimum settlement amount, you have to consider a few things, such as the other party’s culpability for causing the accident.
2.Investigate The Cause
Before negotiating a settlement with the other party, you must first understand the car accident’s cause. Having evidence of the cause can be a massive advantage during negotiations, as it may change the settlement amount in your favor.
Was the crash caused by the other party`s reckless driving behaviors? If so, there’s a potential $50-$1000 fine and 90 days of jail time for this offense. Were they drunk at the time of the accident? If that’s the case, it could potentially lead to a $1000 fine and six months in jail. With this information, you can increase your negotiating power, after all, when faced with more serious consequences, the other driver may prefer a quick settlement.
However, this negotiating strategy won`t work if the accident was caused by the weather conditions or the offender’s disability. In those cases, the settlement may even be decided in their favor, which is why it’s crucial to know the other party’s side of the story.
3.Prepare Some Visual Aids
Just as you don’t know much about the other party’s side of the story, the offender will also have no idea about your experience during the incident, which could lead to them assuming you’re only doing this to earn money. One way to prevent this misunderstanding is to prepare visual aids.
Images or videos of your damaged car, severe-looking injuries or even dash cam footage of the crash itself can be beneficial in convincing not only the offender, but also your insurance company, to settle an accident claim.
4.Never Reduce Your Offer Twice
If you`re feeling generous, or the other party has some good points, you can try lowering your requested amount once, but unless the other party responds with a reasonable offer, avoid reducing your amount for the second time.
Even if the other parties does want you to lower your requested amount, ask them for their reasoning, and go over each reason together to discuss if they are genuine concerns. If their reasons are not valid, then stick to your previous offer. During negotiations, some say that the first one to speak, loses. After laying out your demands, stay quiet for some time, giving the other party more time to consider their options.
If you do achieve a favorable outcome during your negotiations, move onto the legal documentation to finalize the agreement.
5.Create A Settlement Letter
Writing a settlement confirmation letter is one of the most crucial steps when settling for an accident claim, as it serves as evidence of what transpired during your negotiations.
Settlement confirmation letters can also help in cases where the other party changes their mind, for instance, the other driver might disagree with a term that they initially agreed to. Think of this letter as a document that legally binds the other party to the agreement you came to during negotiations, even if they later change their mind.
6.Consider Getting An Attorney
Remember that you won’t always be on the winning side, especially if you’re dealing with an insurance company or an expert negotiator.
If you’re not exactly the best at negotiating, consider hiring an attorney or a personal injury lawyer, especially if there is a dispute about who was at fault for the car accident. An attorney or a lawyer can help examine the evidence, and put forward the strongest possible argument in your favor.
Since hiring representation can cost a considerable amount of money, you should meet with a few different lawyers to ensure you find the right one for your situation and your budget.
Being the victim of a car accident can be life changing, and negotiating a settlement is nothing more than a necessary step to help you cover your medical expenses and help you get back on your feet.
Do your research, follow these tips, and consider hiring an attorney to ensure you get the best possible outcome for your circumstances.