If you are involved in a car accident, the first thing you should do is to call up your insurance company and have the damage assessed by the insurance adjuster. The sooner the adjuster determines the amount of damage, the sooner you can settle this. There are cases however, when the amount stated by the adjuster is different from your assessment in this case you have to negotiate with both the insurance adjuster and the negligent party for a reasonable compromise.
In many cases, it is the adjuster who will initiate the process of settlement by offering the settlement value. However, if you are well informed of the true costs involved, you need not wait for the insurance adjuster’s assessment. You can go ahead, draft a demand letter stating the value you are claiming and serve it to the insurance company. The insurance company will most likely send an adjuster and give you a counter-offer, which is most likely lower than the value you are demanding. If you think the counter-offer is reasonable, you may agree with it and the settlement is finished.
However, if you are not satisfied with the lower counter-offer, further negotiation is necessary. Insurance companies usually haggle for the lowest value they can, so that they can increase their profits. Adjusters are specifically ordered the insurance companies to consider a range of values and begin their offer from the lowest value. You can continue negotiating until you reach the highest value in the range, in which case, it is unlikely for the adjuster to concede any further increase. If you have arrived at this deadlock you may wish to consider several options in order to obtain a higher value.
You can pursue a compromise with the insurance company but insist on the propriety of the value of your claim. Support your claim with sufficient documents to better persuade the insurance company to concede to your terms.
You could also arrange a meeting with higher officers of the insurance company, other than the adjusters. Skip the lower rank employees and speak to the higher-ups who might be more accommodating to your demand, as they will want to avoid any litigation procedures, which are expensive and can attract bad publicity to the company.
However, your best option is to seek the assistance of a competent car accident attorney. A car accident lawyer will have in-depth knowledge of the law surrounding car accidents and will also be able to place a fair value on the compensation you should be awarded, based on the facts of your case. An experienced car accident lawyer will also be used to dealing and negotiating with insurance companies and will be able to advise you on whether or not to take their offer and on how to deal with their tactics.
If a car accident lawyer is unable to obtain a fair settlement with the insurance company, a car accident lawyer can help you file an administrative suit or civil suit against the insurance company and the negligent party. An administrative suit can be filed with the State Department Insurance, while a civil case is filed in Court. This option should only be considered as a last resort, as it can be quite expensive and may take a long time. A suit may only antagonize the insurance company and may cause further delay. If you do decided to go to the courts, your car accident lawyer will be an invaluable asset as he/she will have experience handling claims similar to yours and be extremely familiar with the entire litigation process.
If you have decided to file a suit, make sure the negligent party is implicated in the lawsuit, so that judgment may be enforced not only on the insurance company but also on the party at fault. In case the insurance company is deliberately, with evident bad faith, withholding the grant of your claim, you might also claim additional compensation.
If you do feel that an insurance company is offering you less compensation than you deserve, it is in your best interests to speak with a car accident attorney and have your claim properly examined and evaluated.
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