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Shapiro & Appleton

Chesapeake Bike Accident Lawyer Discusses How to Negotiate with the Insurance Company

virginia personal injury lawyersRiding bikes along the Elizabeth River or through popular Chesapeake recreation areas like Roosevelt Memorial Park or the Oak Grove Lake Park can all be a great way to spend time on a sunny afternoon. However, too many times bicyclists out for a ride find themselves injured after being hit by a careless motorist.

These accidents can lead to serious injuries, which quickly become expensive for the families of those hurt in the crashes. To ensure that you are compensated for the harm you’ve suffered, it’s crucial to turn to an experienced Chesapeake bike accident lawyer who can help you get the best settlement possible.

When do negotiations begin?

If you’ve been injured in a Chesapeake, VA bicycle accident, the first step in your claims process is to draft and send a demand letter to the insurance carrier responsible for paying your damages. This demand letter is more than a simple request for money, it needs to be an exhaustive discussion of the accident, your injuries, your medical bills, any lost wages or other monetary damages and additional evidence useful in proving your case.

Demand letters need to be more than just best guesses and the best way to start such a negotiation is to come fully prepared. Be sure that anything you say in the letter can be backed up with solid evidence later on. Having evidence already collected and ready to go is one of the best ways to ensure you begin negotiations with the insurance company on a strong footing.

How much should you ask for?

Much like the negotiations that happen when buying a car or other big items, negotiations with insurance companies require a bit of finesse. Rather than asking for the exact amount of your damages, to the penny, it’s a much better strategy to have your first offer higher than what you would really need to settle the case.

The reason is because this first offer creates a kind of ceiling for the negotiation and it is much better to start too high and come down than it is to start too low and fight your way back up. By inflating your demand, you create some space for negotiation and improve your odds of walking away with the money you deserve.

When do you finally settle the matter?

At this point you may have exchanged several offers and counteroffers with the insurance company and the settlement process will begin to wind down. There’s no special formula for how long such negotiations could or should last, it all depends on the specifics of the case and the decisions made by the individual insurance claims adjuster.

At some point the insurance company might present its final offer, leaving you with an important decision to make. First things first, you need to be sure that the offer is indeed the best deal possible. You can do so by pushing the matter and seeing if the claims adjuster appears to have any wiggle room.

If there is no more room left to negotiate, you now need to decide whether you are comfortable with the amount offered or if you’d rather roll the dice and move ahead with a civil lawsuit. If the deal appears fair and compensates you for the damages you’ve suffered, then it’s worth taking it and moving on with your life. However, if you believe you stand to collect much more in court and the lowball offer will still leave you and your family struggling, then rejecting the deal might be the best decision.

It’s important to understand that just because you move ahead with filing a lawsuit does not mean you cannot eventually settle the case. In certain circumstances, filing suit is just another step in the negotiations process, a show of force to the insurance company that the case won’t simply be swept away. 

Richard N. Shapiro
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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