HOW TO NEGOTIATE A PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENT
The vast majority of personal injury cases are resolved by Settlement, but the only way to get a good Settlement is to negotiate from a position of strength. This is not merely a state-of-mind (although there certainly is a psychological aspect to it as well); to negotiate from a position of strength means to make the Defendant (more specifically, the Defendant’s insurance company) fear what would happen if your case went to trial.
It is not at all difficult for the insurance companies who represent defendants in personal injury cases to figure out if a Plaintiff is truly prepared to go to trial because they are professional claims handlers, so they know what to look for. If an insurance company senses that a Plaintiff is just bluffing, then the insurance company will discount its offers to settle the personal injury claim.
There are several other pages on this website in which we discuss some of our strategies and tactics for preparing a case for trial, but the important thing to note for right now is that there is a direct relationship between your trial preparedness and your negotiating power.
SETTLEMENT & ADJUDICATION: PARALLEL TRACKS
When we handle a personal injury claim, we do not decide at the outset whether we are going to resolve the claim through Settlement or Adjudication because we have learned, through many years of experience, that the only way to consistently get good settlement offers on our cases is to prepare them as though they were going to go to be adjudicated at trial. Because of this, we prepare every case for adjudication. The natural consequence of our preparation is that we usually receive good settlement offers in our cases. Therefore, the vast majority of our personal injury claims do get resolved by Settlement; however, if the Defendant fails to provide us with a good settlement offer, then we are prepared to resolve the case by Adjudication.
In summary, our negotiation strategy is as follows: We demand a Settlement from the Defendant. (The demand amount is decided upon by the client, with our advice.) Simultaneously, we aggressively pursue Adjudication of our client’s personal injury claim, stopping only if and when the Defendant makes a settlement offer that our client chooses to accept.
The pathway to Adjudication generally includes the steps described in the series of pages linked below. But remember, your case can be settled at any point along the way. Starting down the pathway to Adjudication does not mean that you are giving up on the possibility of a Settlement. On the contrary, the best way to get to a fair Settlement is to start down the pathway to Adjudication.
THE FIRST MOVE: MAKING A DEMAND
In most cases, the best way for the Plaintiff to get negotiations started is to send a demand package to the Defendant and his or her insurance company. There are some situations where we do not believe it is in the Plaintiff’s best interests to send a demand package before filing a lawsuit, but those situations are rare. Click here to learn how to create a powerful demand package.
The philosophies, strategies, and tactics I’ve outlined above are the principles that guide our actions at Cluff Injury Lawyers. I’ve outlined them pedagogically to help anyone who wants to better understand these principles or improve their skills in utilizing them.
Author: Brigham Cluff