Barkley & Kennedy handles a lot of personal injury cases in Rockville, Maryland, and other parts of Montgomery and Frederick Counties. We like to break down the path to possible personal injury claim settlement with these 7 steps.
1. Letter of Representation
The claims process begins when we send a letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. The letter makes it clear you suffered injuries and other damages due to the negligent acts of their insured, and you will be seeking compensation for those damages. This letter effectively begins the negotiation process.
2. Reservation of Rights Letter
We will receive a Reservation of Rights letter basically saying they’re reviewing your claim, and agree to discuss it, but by doing so they are not admitting to any liability on behalf of their insured.
3. Demand Letter
After completing medical treatment and therapy, the next step is sending a demand letter to the adjuster. The letter lays out the basic facts of your claim, along with all your damages, including medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages. These are known as your “special damages” or “specials.” A claim will also be made for “pain and suffering” otherwise known as “general damages.” The combined amount of your special and general damages will be your total settlement demand.
4. Adjuster’s Response
The adjuster will eventually respond to the demand after completion of an investigation and review of your claimed damages. This is when the real negotiations begin. Typically, the adjuster will in some way communicate that your claim has little or no value. In short, the adjuster won’t agree with your demand amount. He may say your specials are too high for the type of injuries you sustained.
The adjuster is testing you to see if:
- You’re impatient enough to jump at a ridiculously low offer
- You are intimidated enough to give in to his rebuttals
- You’re serious, and just how far you’ll go – including filing a lawsuit
5. Response to the Adjuster’s Counteroffer
We will reply that your injuries were real, and your treatment was ordered by your doctor and absolutely necessary. It’s possible we may tell him you might consider reducing your demand based on his points, but not by much. We will tell him we’ll get back to him after reviewing the offer with you.
6. The Bartering Process
Negotiations resume when you reduce your demand amount slightly. The process will continue with offers and counteroffers between us and the adjuster. We will continue to defend your position and the adjuster will do the same. Eventually we will come to a figure you can live with and hopefully will settle the claim.
Your “Drop Dead” Figure
Your Drop Dead figure is the lowest amount you’ll accept to settle your claim. If you can’t settle the claim for at least that amount, you must be prepared to file a lawsuit. Hopefully, we will settle for an amount well above your drop dead figure.
7. The Final Negotiating Step
Although it’s in the best interest of both sides to settle the claim, keep in mind the possibility of a stalemate. If that occurs, you must be prepared for litigation.
Should your claim be minor ($5,000 or less), you can file a lawsuit yourself in small claims court. If your demand for compensation exceeds the limit, you’ll need to have us file suit in a higher court.