By the time negotiations actually begin, the adjuster will have strong reasons why she believes your claim is worth far less than you think it is. To have any chance of changing her mind, you must be ready to counter with equally persuasive arguments of why her settlement offer is too low.
Sometimes, coming up with persuasive arguments requires thinking outside the box. “Outside factors” extend beyond what is traditional or obvious in claim negotiations. Effectively using outside factors can give you enough leverage to get the adjuster to raise her settlement offer.
Traditional Negotiating Factors
Most claimants don’t understand how to increase their settlement offer. When negotiating with the adjuster, they only rely on traditional factors.
Traditional factors include:
- How painful your injuries were
- How difficult your recovery has been
- How obviously negligent the at-fault driver was
- The financial stress you’ve been under from being out of work
- The type and amount of your out-of-pocket expenses
These are all important factors – the foundation of any claim. And depending on your negotiation skills, these can be very persuasive to an adjuster. But you can probably do more.
Using Outside Factors Effectively
Successful injury attorneys have strong negotiating skills. They use outside factors to leverage higher settlement amounts. These factors can be found in the events surrounding an injury. If you know what to look for, and how to apply what you’ve found, there’s no reason you can’t do the same.
The most effective outside factors are those that imply litigation. Attorneys use this method all the time. The legitimate threat of a lawsuit can be strong incentive for an adjuster. They don’t like to have their claims end up in trial. Suggesting how powerful your evidence will be to a jury will quickly get the adjuster’s attention.
To have a favorable effect on the adjuster, your negotiating tactics must be based on credible evidence. Just threatening an adjuster with a lawsuit is worthless and counter-productive. You also need to paint a picture of what would happen if a jury saw your evidence, and how it would probably affect their verdict.
Outside factors for different case types include:
- Eyewitness testimony about the clear negligence of the insured
- Eyewitness testimony concerning the lacerations, contusions, appearance of blood, and excruciating pain you were suffering at the time of the injury and soon afterward
- Photographs of your mangled car, and both cars crumpled together, including the broken glass and car parts strewn about the scene
- The insured’s driving record, including suspensions, tickets, and arrests for DUI or reckless driving
- Documented history of a physician’s malpractice complaints, and successful judgments taken against him or her
- Documented history of a corporation’s production of defective products, including prior jury verdicts against them for injuries sustained by consumers
- A store’s record of customers injured by slip and falls, especially when the incidents were similar to yours
Some of these factors won’t be available unless you actually file a lawsuit. Once a lawsuit is filed, much of this kind of information becomes available via subpoenas, depositions, and court-ordered production of evidence. But even if you don’t have the evidence in-hand, suggesting that your attorney would subpoena it if trial becomes necessary may work just as well.
Resources for Outside Factors
There is some helpful information you can access without filing a lawsuit. It’s usually found in public records.
Insured’s Driving Record
An insurance adjuster has easy access to her insured’s driving record. She knows if the record shows a history of tickets for speeding, reckless driving, or other moving violations, or if the driver has ever been arrested for DUI. The last thing an adjuster wants is a jury to see her insured’s bad driving record.
You can access driving records on websites such as DMV.org. Some states have strict requirements for accessing records, while other states allow anyone access. If the record indicates the insured has a history of tickets or arrests, you can use that as leverage with the adjuster.
The adjuster knows that if your claim can’t be settled and goes to trial, her insured’s driving record will come up. Even though it’s not direct evidence, it goes to show the probability of the driver’s fault based on past history. If the record is particularly bad, the jury may come in with a very high verdict.
History of Slip And Falls
A history of lawsuits against an insured corporation is another outside factor you can use to great advantage with an adjuster. Juries traditionally don’t like big corporations, especially insurance companies. They empathize with a victim when they think he or she is being taken advantage of by big business, because they can imagine themselves in the same position.
Before beginning your settlement negotiations, search for any previous lawsuits and jury verdicts against the business where you were injured. A website like VerdictSearch.com allows you to check for this information. Hopefully, you can learn if the business has a history of lawsuits, and if so, how much was awarded in cases similar to yours.
Letting the adjuster know you have copies of pending lawsuits and jury verdicts against her insured, and suggesting you’ll use them if trial becomes necessary, will give the adjuster pause. Although the lawsuit would be filed against the business and not the insurance company, in the end it’s the insurance company who has to pay.
The adjuster knows that when juries believe big business has taken advantage of an innocent person, they don’t hesitate to award huge amounts of compensation.
Taking advantage of outside factors like these will set your claim above the average. Your research and efforts will make an impact on the adjuster. If you can successfully leverage driver history and past jury verdicts, you’ll see the positive difference in your final settlement.
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