Negotiating a Great Settlement for a Slip, Trip, Fall Accident Claim
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Premises Liability > Settlements > Negotiation
Get expert advice on settling your claim for damages after a fall. Take the insurance adjuster seriously and help them help you.
One in five slip and fall accidents results in a catastrophic injury, such as a fractured bone or a brain injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The annual cost of treating all injuries sustained from falls in the United States is predicted to be between $13 and $14 million.
When an accident occurs due to the negligence of another party, the sufferer may be entitled to financial compensation. That usually entails making a personal injury claim with the property owner’s insurance provider who was at fault.
The insurance company will not just compensate you for your losses if you file a claim. To resolve your claim fairly, you or your lawyer must negotiate with a claims adjuster.
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Discussions with an insurance company are time-consuming.
You can handle your injury claim with diligence and familiarity with the bargaining process.
Pursue Adequate Recompense for Your Pain and Suffering
After you have determined how much your slip and fall injury is worth and made your demand to the insurance company, negotiations can begin.
An insurance company will need to know how much money you are asking for to settle your claim, and a settlement demand letter will do just that. It details the events leading up to your injury, elaborates on the harm you’ve sustained, and claims the landowner is to blame.
You must include copies of your invoices, receipts, wage statement, and any other tangible costs associated with your slip and fall in the demand letter packet.
Every dialogue between you and the adjuster will begin with your demand. Provide solid justification for the sum you demand so that you can use it as a negotiating point.
For a pain and suffering claim, for instance, you should detail how your slip-and-fall accident has disrupted your life. Perhaps your personal life has been upended, or you’ve had to forego some opportunities. Regardless of the precise effect, be sure to describe it.
The claims adjuster will likely make a counteroffer to get you to settle your claim for a lower amount. A lot less. The adjuster can easily determine how much they can get away with by making a low offer.
Keep your cool and ignore the insult. You can easily respond to a lowball offer by rejecting it and then asking for a small discount on your original demand.
Success in negotiations depends on preparation.
It’s best to have a game plan to bargain with the adjuster before you start talking figures. If you do even a tiny bit of planning ahead of time, you can increase your insurance settlement.
Injuries are rarely covered in full, and adjusters are taught to discover loopholes to minimize or completely dismiss compensation requests. The adjuster may try to place some responsibility on you to reduce the final settlement amount. However, if you are ready for the adjuster’s negotiating strategies, they won’t be able to take advantage of you.
Set a Lowest Acceptable Settlement
Every injured party submits a demand letter hoping their case will be settled for the maximum amount they requested. But skilled negotiators know that compromise requires concession from both sides.
You shouldn’t let an adjuster mistreat you just because you’re willing to settle your claim for less than you first asked for.
To ensure your interests are protected during negotiations, you should set a minimum settlement sum ahead of time. Don’t let the adjuster know how low you’re willing to go by disclosing this number.
If the insurance company’s adjuster consistently lowballs you, it may be time to consult a lawyer regarding the legitimacy and value of your claim.
Calm down and remind yourself
The process of settling a claim can get very frustrating very quickly. The insurer’s position or the adjuster’s comments may anger you.
The adjuster has the upper hand if you lose your cool. For instance, if the adjuster suspects you are financially strapped, they may drag out the procedure, hoping you will give in and settle for less money.
Maintaining composure is critical during the claims procedure. You should keep in mind that the negotiation process might be very frustrating. Patience and perseverance in negotiations frequently pay off in a more favorable settlement.
Put some feeling into your negotiations.
An adjuster’s emotional reaction to a claim will not affect how objectively they examine the evidence. Never assume the adjuster is on your side, and certainly don’t give them any information they can use to their advantage. Don’t tell them that you’re getting a divorce or that you’re behind on rent.
The emotional component of your case might be highlighted by focusing on the non-economic damages you’ve suffered while building your negotiation approach.
Imagine you fell some steps and cut your knee badly. Ensure the adjuster sees a color copy of the photo you took of the injury just after the accident.
Pictures of your bloody, torn jeans can be just as convincing. Be sure to inform the adjuster that you have kept the bloodstained clothing as physical proof.
Describe the damage and its effects on your life, including the physical agony, in as much detail as possible.
The language used to describe:
- Sleepless nights from excruciating pain;
- feelings of guilt and sadness since you couldn’t comfort your crying toddler;
- nauseating and disconcerting stomach aches and other drug side effects
You shouldn’t try to appeal to the adjuster’s sentiments. An experienced adjuster, however, will often offer more money to silence a credible and convincing accident victim from testifying in court.
Methods of Making a Counteroffer and Bargaining
In most cases, you will receive a response from the adjuster shortly after sending in your demand packet (often between two to four weeks). A considerably lower counteroffer than what you asked for will arrive via mail or phone call.
An insurance adjuster may justify a low settlement offer by arguing that you did one or more of the following:
(1) delayed seeking medical attention,
(2) contributed to the injury,
(3) required no missed work,
(4) demanded an unreasonable amount for pain and suffering
(5) failed to submit a timely claim or
(6) submitted an incomplete claim.
If the adjuster tells you, they can’t give more or that they previously checked with a supervisor, don’t be startled.
Adjusters frequently utilize these justifications in negotiations to convince you to accept a lower settlement offer.
The Counteroffer and Your Response
Calling an adjuster is generally the best way to respond to a counteroffer. Take a deep breath before making the call, and maintain your composure. Do not volunteer any more information than is strictly necessary.
Asking the adjuster to explain their counteroffer is a smart place to start. You should record the adjuster’s explanations word for word. Ask the adjuster to repeat themselves if they are talking too quickly.
Don’t argue or try to get more money once you know why the adjuster made a counteroffer. Instead, you could express your gratitude to the adjuster and assure them that you will be in touch shortly. Hang up politely.
You’ve just established yourself as an intelligent and capable negotiator in the eyes of the insurance adjuster.
In most cases, a written letter is the best way to reply to a counteroffer. This aids in concentration and also in keeping your emotions in check.
Make sure to respond to the adjuster’s counteroffer in your reply letter on all fronts. If the adjuster claimed that you contributed to the accident, you would want to include any proof that disproves their claim. Show the adjuster photos or medical papers that prove the exact amount of your injuries if they question the severity of your claim.
You may consider lowering your demand just a hair while penning this letter. Negotiate down from your initial demand rather than trying to increase the adjuster’s low offer.
If possible, you should avoid significantly lowering your asking price. See how the adjuster reacts to a low offer before increasing it. Don’t try to lowball the adjuster by phoning before you hear back from them.
If you indicate that you are willing to negotiate, the adjuster will likely keep trying to reach a reasonable settlement with you.
If you have a doctor’s statement detailing the time you lost from work and acceptable medical bills following a slip and fall, you should have no issue negotiating the associated hard costs.
Since you likely won’t have any bills or receipts to back up your claim for pain and suffering, you’ll need to rely on other evidence, such as witness statements and detailed accounts of the incident, to get a settlement.
A settlement agreement may require several more rounds of negotiations. Take copious notes during each negotiation session. Keep providing evidence from your slip and fall lawsuit to back up the sum you demand.
Feature the benefits of your argument.
When haggling with the adjuster, you don’t have to rehash your entire demand letter. Rather than listing all of your claim’s merits, it’s more effective to highlight it in the top three to four.
If it’s obvious that the property owner is to blame, say so. Don’t be shy about bringing up the photo of your severe injury.
If you can make a few solid arguments in succession and back them up with evidence like receipts, witness statements, and medical records, you’ll come off as convincing.
Mind Your Words
Insurance claims adjusters will hunt for any reason to lower or even completely deny payment for an injury. They may try to convince you that you overstated your injuries or were partly to blame for the accident.
Although honesty during negotiations is required, you should refrain from claiming responsibility for your injuries.
Be sure to stress the extent of your wounds and the agony they caused without embellishing the truth.
Avoid drawn-out conversations and run-on phrases by sticking to the point. Have your say, and then pause while you wait. There’s no need to continue talking after someone else stops. In addition, it is recommended that you constantly consider your words carefully before they are spoken. If you need a moment to gather your thoughts before responding, that’s fine.
Failure of Settlement Talks
However, negotiations for injury claims don’t always end in a settlement, and the adjuster can deny the claim.
If this occurs, though, not all hope is lost. Injuries sustained from a slip and fall might still be claimed for compensation. One option is to file a lawsuit against the liable party in small claims court or, if the damages are more substantial, in a higher court.
Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer for assistance if your slip and fall accident resulted in significant financial losses. Insurance firms are notorious for offering inadequate compensation when an injured person does not have legal representation.
Your lawyer can resume talks with the insurance company’s claims adjuster. Once an attorney is engaged, though, adjusters often change their tune. If the adjuster refuses to budge, your lawyer can initiate legal action on your behalf.
A lawyer for slip and fall accidents might be consulted before a claim is settled. If you don’t feel confident negotiating with the insurance company, it’s in your best interest to speak with an attorney first.
Most personal injury lawyers will meet with prospective clients for free. The session is free, and the lawyer will help you understand your legal rights and alternatives.
Personal injury attorneys typically accept cases on a contingency fee basis. Your lawyer will work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they will only get paid if they successfully settle or win your slip and fall case.
Refusals in Bad Faith
There’s always the chance that your insurance company acted dishonestly when it rejected your claim. You can complain to the insurance commissioner in your state or initiate a lawsuit if this happens to you.
No matter the nature of a claim, insurers in every state are mandated by law to act in good faith and fairly.
In some places, you can only file a lawsuit against your insurer if it acts in bad faith. However, you should know that you have legal options beyond just suing the insurance provider.
You should talk to a personal injury lawyer about your legal options if you think your slip and fall claim was wrongfully refused. If the property owner’s insurance company refuses to bargain in good faith, you may have to sue them.
Finish Up the Settlement Agreement
Verify with the insurance adjuster that you understand the terms of any settlement for your slip-and-fall claim.
- The settlement amount,
- date of the agreement,
- injuries/damages covered by the settlement,
- and the date the company will release settlement documentation and payment should all be confirmed in writing.
Remember to cc: yourself and print out a copy of the settlement agreement if you opt to confirm it by email.
Settlement Payment Anticipation Date
Getting your settlement money as soon as feasible is a top priority. You can use the settlement money to cover your medical bills and other expenses caused by the slip and fall.
If you hired a lawyer, you should inquire when you can anticipate receiving compensation for your injuries.
Please sign and submit the release and settlement agreement as soon as possible if you have settled your claim, get your payment as soon as possible. Once you have sent the signed contract back, the payment will be made within two to three weeks.
Don’t wait any longer to ask the adjuster about your payout if you haven’t gotten a check yet. Even if the adjuster thinks the insurance company has already issued the check, get a tracking number. If they claim to have mailed it, inquire about the date and number of the check.
Remember that the insurance company may have good cause to hold off on paying your compensation until they’ve finished investigating your claim. For instance, when your damage settlement is subject to liens. In many cases, insurers must first pay out lienholders by state law before making any payments to the wounded claimant.
The same principle applies from waiting for your settlement cheque to negotiating your claim: patience pays you in the end. While being patient will pay off, you should also make the insurance company accountable for honoring the terms of your settlement.
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