Your lawyer can negotiate a settlement of your personal injury case in Virginia by investigating your case, collecting the evidence to build your case, and working directly with the defendant’s insurance company to reach an agreement on the amount of compensation you will receive. If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit on your behalf, we can continue negotiating and trying to settle your case.
How a Lawyer Opens Settlement Negotiations in Virginia
The actual steps your lawyer will take will depend on the facts of your situation. Every case is different. We prepare for settlement negotiations as if we were going to trial, building your case of financial damages. Here are some of the early stages of settlement negotiations:
- We will talk with you to find out as much helpful information as possible.
- We will investigate the accident or incident. We often discover facts that we can use to cast doubt on the defendant’s version of what happened. For example, if the defendant claimed that the sun was in his eyes, we might go to the scene of the crash and find that the accident happened in a shaded area.
- We will gather documents and other proof of your losses, like the police report, medical records, and invoices. We can send these items with our demand letter to show the other side how strong your case is.
- We will calculate the fair settlement value of your case, using your financial losses like your medical expenses and lost wages and adding an amount for intangible losses like “pain and suffering” and inconvenience.
- We will discuss the proposed settlement range with you to get your authority to accept a settlement amount within that range.
- We will draft a demand letter and send it to the at-fault party or his insurance company.
Some people mistakenly think that the negotiation process starts with the demand letter. However, there is actually a great deal of work the law firm must do before it can draft a compelling demand letter that gets results.
Intermediate Steps of Negotiations
After the demand letter, the ball is in the court of the defendant or his insurer. The insurance company can respond to the demand letter by:
- Ignoring the letter
- Agreeing to pay the amount we demanded
- Rejecting the offer
- Making a counter-offer
When we get the response, or after a reasonable amount of time passed with no response from the insurer to the demand letter or our follow-ups, we will have a conversation with you about the next steps. Our options are to:
- Draft the settlement documents, if the insurance company agreed to pay the amount of our demand.
- Accept the counter-offer.
- Make a counter-demand of our own.
- Gather additional information and documentation to show the strength of our case.
- File a lawsuit against the defendant seeking compensation for your losses.
Sometimes we have to file a lawsuit because that is the only way to get you the justice you deserve. In some cases, we file because the deadline is approaching, and we need to protect your legal rights. We can continue negotiating with the other side after filing the lawsuit.
Most cases do not have to go to trial because they settle during the pre-trial phase. Many cases that do reach the trial stage settle right before or during the trial. The vast majority of personal injury claims finish without having to go through a full trial. Of course, what happens in your case will depend on the facts of your situation and a multitude of factors, many of which are outside of our control.
What Happens If We Settle the Claim
Insurance companies often have standard forms for use in the settlement of claims against their customers. If they send us these forms, we will read them carefully to make sure that the details are correct and that the company is not trying to slip something into the paperwork to which we do not agree.
Sometimes we draft the settlement documents. We will tailor our papers to the facts of your situation.
Usually, when you settle a claim, you have to sign a release. A release is a document that prevents you from filing a lawsuit or a claim against the same defendant and/or insurer for the same event. In other words, if the defendant (or insurance company) pays you the agreed-upon amount, you cannot come back afterward and go after more financial damages for the accident.
Getting a Lawyer to Handle Your Settlement Negotiations
Our founding lawyer spent years representing insurance companies, so he knows how they operate. He now devotes himself to helping injured people.
You do not have to take on a multi-billion-dollar insurance company by yourself. The Parrish Law Firm, PLLC can be there with you every step of the way. We can help you navigate the claims process, deal directly with the insurance company so that you do not have to, try to negotiate a settlement, and file a lawsuit if the case does not settle.
Call us today at 571-229-1800 to get started.