During the Negotiation and Resolution phase, we work to resolve your claim with the tortfeasor and his or her insurance company. Once the facts become clearer after the investigation phase, everyone pretty much understands who is responsible and should pay for your injuries, and the amount you should recover for your injuries. This step requires everyone to agree upon these factors so your case can be resolved and you can be fully compensated for your loss.
Generally, once the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the liability of your accident are complete (or complete enough to determine that your damages exceed the amount available under the insurance policy or policies), the parties will begin negotiations to try to settle your claim.
Negotiating a Settlement
Typically, the insurance company, also known as the carrier, will start the negotiations by making a settlement offer. By this point, the carrier received notice of the claim and wants to resolve the matter.
Other times, the injured party makes the first settlement offer so he or she can get money as soon as possible to pay for their accumulating medical expenses. Both sides are more likely to get what they want when they express not only what they will pay or take, but the reason behind their offer. An offer should not be based on a random number; the amount should be supported by the circumstances surrounding the accident.
It is not uncommon for a carrier to request information from you before deciding whether to engage in settlement negotiations. A carrier may want to review statements or reports made about the accident. Or the carrier may want you to complete a medical authorization form so it can obtain your medical records and bills from your healthcare providers. Likewise, the carrier may request work product between you and your attorney tp get some insight on your claim. The carrier is not asking for these things out of goodwill. Rather, the carrier wants all of this information so it can evaluate the strength of your case and decide if it is worth settling your claim.
No two insurance carriers are exactly alike. Some insurance carriers are known to settle claims fairly and promptly. Other insurance companies are not as easy to deal with. We have worked with almost all of these insurance carriers, and their history with our clients is something we consider during settlement negotiations. For example, if we know an insurance company is prone to making low settlement offers, we make sure to let you know that before you decide whether to accept their offer.
As much as we value technology in the workplace, sometimes there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. That’s why we may decide to have an in person pre-suit settlement conference. An in person discussion then makes it more difficult for the carrier to have to literally walk away from settling your claim.
We also work with any lien holders who seek to be repaid for providing you services while you were injured. The insurance carriers also communicate with these lien holders to make sure that you actually owe the medical expenses that you claim and to guarantee that these lien holders are paid before you are. Otherwise, these lien holders could affect your recovery by reducing the amount you will receive.
As the client, it is your role to decide whether to accept a settlement, offer a settlement, or continue to litigation. We can advise you on what you should do, but the decision on whether you should settle is yours alone to make.
Sometimes, a settlement discussion just doesn’t work out. The parties may not see eye-to-eye on the tortfeasor’s liability or may disagree over the amount of damages that should be given to you, as the injured party. However, even if there is a stalemate in these discussions, we will not stop working on your claim. Rather, we simply proceed to the next step, which is to file a lawsuit in civil court and engage in litigation.