Once the Demand Letter has been sent to the insurance adjuster, the negotiations usually begin in earnest. The insurance company will typically make an offer that is often ridiculously low. If the damages are serious enough and the policy limits are low, sometimes they will go ahead and agree to pay the policy limits in order to avoid a situation later where the insurance company can be held responsible for a verdict higher than the policy limits. I won’t go into the details of that situation here, but it has happened often where the insurance company tries to be cheap in settling a case and forget to take care of the interests of the policy holder thereby exposing that person to a judgment over and above the limits of the policy.
NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT OF A PERSONAL INJURY CASE
Often the negotiations take place on the phone with follow-up correspondence confirming what was offered or demanded. If the talks stall (the parties reach a point where neither side will budge further) one of two things will happen. Either the plaintiff will go ahead and file suit against the defendant or the parties will agree to pre-litigation mediation. The decision whether to try to mediate depends on certain factors. One is how willing the client is to go to trial. If the client is unwilling for whatever reason then mediating the case is a good idea. If the client is willing to go to trial and the parties are very far apart in negotiations, then the best plan is to go ahead and file suit. Thankfully, there will be other opportunities to mediate the case during the actual litigation of the case.
MEDIATING A PERSONAL INJURY CASE
Mediation is a process whereby the parties use a neutral third-party (the mediator) to try to negotiate a settlement. It usually takes place at the mediator’s office. Typically, the parties all sit down together at the beginning to explain each side’s position in the case and then they break off into separate rooms. The mediator then goes back and forth between the rooms and discusses with each side the various strengths and weaknesses of the case in order to get each side to move a little closer to the middle. Sometimes mediation is successful and sometimes it isn’t. If it is successful, then a settlement is entered into and the case is resolved. If not, then either a lawsuit is filed or the case goes to trial depending on the status of the case at the time of the mediation.
If you have been injured by another party, please call me at 404-474-2531 for a free and confidential consultation.