Responding to a Low Settlement Offer
If you or a loved one are injured in an accident that was caused by the careless or negligent actions of another person, you should be entitled to compensation. This process can become incredibly complex and you may need a West Virginia personal injury attorney to help. You also need to know what happens if the offer made by the other side’s insurance carrier is too low to cover your injury-related expenses.
Please understand that it is not uncommon for an insurance carrier to send an extremely low settlement offer at first. These companies are not your friends and will do what they can to lower any settlement amount. A first offer does not mean that is all you can possibly get in a settlement. In fact, that will rarely be the final offer.
First steps after receiving a low offer
After receiving a low settlement offer, you need to remain calm. If you have a West Virginia personal injury attorney, they will probably be the one who gets the offer from the insurance company. This is not to time to send back an emotionally charged response, and you should certainly not accept the first offer right away.
Whether you are upset or in need of money, keep in mind that it is important to keep all negotiations professional throughout this process.
Respond in writing to the offer
You can call or email the adjuster (or have your attorney do so) to ask specifics about what they are basing their settlement offer on. Do not argue with what they say, just write down what they tell you. You may be able to determine that the other side does not have all of the information related to your injuries or medical care.
Your response letter will need to focus on the subjective and emotional points of your case, things that are harder to calculate than the medical bills and lost income, though those things are certainly part of this process. Your initial demand letter likely outlines the facts of the accident, medical bills, and lost income. There is no need to repeat that here.
This follow-up correspondence should focus on the non-economic damages like pain and suffering and other emotional and psychological impacts that your injuries have had on your life. Mention that you can no longer enjoy certain hobbies or leisure activities that you used to enjoy.
Come up with a counteroffer
Your response letter should contain a counteroffer to their low initial offer. This counteroffer should consider several factors, including:
- the amount that you think you deserve
- the limits of the at-fault party’s insurance
- the at-fault party’s potential assets
There may be more than one offer and counteroffer
These cases can take a while to negotiate. After the initial offer and counteroffer, the other side will likely come back with yet another offer that you think is too low. At this point, if you have not done so already, speak to a qualified and experienced attorney who can guide you through this. You may have to reply with another counteroffer and wait for their response.
Will this have to go to court?
If you do not get an offer that you think is fair or that does not cover all of your expenses, it may be necessary to file a personal injury claim. Keep in mind that with a settlement agreement, you are guaranteed to receive some compensation. Taking a case to trial comes with no such guarantees. You could lose your case, or you could end up with much more than what the other party offered.