Negotiation Power is in Your Hands; Use It!Being in a wreck sucks. Even the smaller ones where you aren’t injured, the damage is relatively minor, and there won’t be long-term consequences are just a big pain. Your first thought may be to hire a car accident lawyer to help you out, but that might not be feasible. Here’s the situation: you’re driving around in your 2010 Honda Accord and someone blows a red light smashing into you. The at-fault driver has insurance, but your vehicle is totaled. Now you have the problem of finding a replacement car with the money insurance is willing to give you. Compound those problems, with the fact that even though your vehicle is worth $8,500, you’re only offered $6,200 to replace it. You can’t find a similar replacement for that much! Top it off, and the amount of the settlement that goes to a car accident lawyer makes legal help out of the picture.
Here’s how you can negotiate a higher settlement.
Get Checked Out for Medical Issues
You may feel fine after the accident and think there is no reason to get checked out. At the moment, however, adrenaline is rushing and your body “overrides” the pain to ensure your survival. It’s a lot harder to go back after a claim has been settled and re-open it for medical issues.
This medical exam will also help when you’re negotiating your settlement later on.
Know the Value of Your Vehicle
Vehicle prices range widely, even when the vehicle is the same make, model, and trim level. To recover the full replacement value, you want to know the precise value.
This can be done online using Kelley Blue Book or NADA guides. Be sure to include any upgrades you have made and their costs (window tinting, new stereo, custom seats, and the like). Your goal here is to show that the vehicle is worth as much as possible.
Be Ready to Wait for a Settlement
You don’t have to settle right away. In fact, it’s almost always in your best interest not to take the first offer from the insurance company. The insurance company doesn’t want to keep open claims on their books. They want them to be cleared off as quickly as possible. Not taking the first offer for settlement, your claim can be escalated to someone that will give a better offer.
This does not mean, however, that you have to wait for months to negotiate a better offer. Next, we will look at how you can use the previous steps to get a settlement that you are happy with.
Negotiate with the Claims Representative
When you file a claim for an accident, the adjuster will look it all over and determine the lowest reasonable offer. It will be put in front of the representative, who will have very little “wiggle” room to adjust the amount that you receive.
Looking back at our hypothetical situation above where you need $8,500 to fully replace your property. When you have spoken with the representative, you can use language like this:
“According to Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides, replacing my vehicle will cost $8,500, and that does not take into account the added value for the MP3 player and the tinted windows. Also, I fear that medical issues will become apparent that are not noticeable today. I feel a fair settlement would be $10,500, but I am willing to accept $8,500 if we can settle today.”
It’s not an outrageous increase, you have the data to prove the value, and most insurance companies will be willing to pay a fair settlement amount in order to get this claim off their books.
Car Accident Lawyer in Richardson, Texas
Here at Herbert & Eberstein, our goal is to make sure that you are taken care of. Often there isn’t enough value that we add for a car accident case described above; so we have empowered you to be able to handle it quickly. Unsure if this is a case where you can enlist the help of a car accident lawyer? Check out our previous article that can help guide you on your decision.
If you have been in an accident, and it is more complicated than we just described, or if there was significant injury or loss of life, please call us at 214-414-3808 for your free initial consultation.
Zach Herbert is a car accident lawyer that serves Texas and Oklahoma to help you stand up for your rights when the insurance companies aren’t playing nice.