If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you might have medical bills, lost income, and much more. You can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for your damages. However, the negotiation process for a settlement can take time.
Negotiation is often an essential part of getting the compensation you deserve. The amount of time it takes depends on the details of each case. If you can settle during the negotiation process, you won’t have to deal with a long, expensive trial.
How a Settlement Negotiation Works
If someone else’s actions cause your injuries, they are legally liable for the damages, according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-1-6. You can request compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. The amount you claim will depend on:
- The at-fault party’s percentage of fault
- Whether or not you were partially at fault
- Your total injury damages
A personal injury lawyer can help you determine the full value of your damages. Your insurance claim should outline each damage that you’re requesting. If the other party and their insurance company agree, you’ll receive the settlement you deserve.
Most of the time, the insurance company sends you a lowball offer. Insurance companies rarely offer the full amount you deserve immediately. Instead, you’ll probably need to negotiate back and forth until both sides agree to an amount.
Most of the time, an injury case ends with a settlement. However, there are times when both parties cannot agree. If that happens, you might move towards a lawsuit and continue negotiating.
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The Timeline for a Settlement Negotiation
You can begin the settlement process by sending a demand letter. Instead of filing a lawsuit, you can send a letter explaining your desire to settle.
Sending the Demand Letter
The demand letter goes to the person or party who caused your injury or their insurance company.
The demand letter explains the following:
- Your account of what happened and how the at-fault party’s actions injured you
- How many damages you’ve suffered
- The total compensation you’re requesting from the at-fault party or insurance company
Insurance companies do not have to respond to demand letters. However, most insurers will provide a timely response. An insurance adjuster who’s handling your claim will usually reach out. Insurance companies look for ways to pay as little as possible, so you’re likely to get a lower counteroffer.
Since insurance companies don’t have to respond, an insurer could ignore your letter or take a long time to respond. This might be a delay tactic to encourage you to give up on seeking compensation. If you don’t get a response, contact a personal injury lawyer. Call (404) 400-4000 to get a free consultation with John Foy & Associates today.
Depending on the situation, it could take weeks to months for you to get a reply. Then, the settlement negotiation typically begins. (If you haven’t heard anything in 45 to 60 days, reach out to the insurer to follow up.)
Negotiating a Settlement
If you get an offer from the insurance company, you can send a counteroffer. Both parties often go back and forth, trying to reach a number that works for both sides. Insurance companies do not like to pay out much on injury claims, so it might take time to negotiate.
Most of the time, settlement negotiation takes a few weeks or months after getting the first offer. Again, the exact timeline will depend on each case.
If you cannot settle with the at-fault party, you might move into mediation. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), mediation involves a third-party person who helps both sides agree. This is the last step between the initial negotiation and going to court.
Mediation can take as little as a few hours or as much as several days. If you still cannot agree during the mediation, you might decide to file a lawsuit.
Overall, the settlement negotiation process typically takes a few weeks to a few months. If all goes well, you and the other party will agree to a fair settlement for your damages.
Factors that Can Affect Your Negotiation Timeline
The amount of time negotiation takes can depend on:
- The strength of your case
- The lowest amount you’ll settle for
- How fast you want to reach a settlement
- Whether or not you have a lawyer
Insurance adjusters are trained to look for ways to cut costs. If there’s a way for the insurer to pay you less, they will usually find it. That’s why it’s best to approach your case with the most substantial evidence possible.
It’s also a good idea to work with a lawyer who can fight for your rights. A seasoned attorney will know how to handle the negotiation process and handle any insurance company tactics.
Improving Your Chances of Successful Negotiation
You can strengthen your chances of a fair offer by:
- Getting medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible
- Taking pictures of the accident scene and your injuries
- Documenting your medical costs, lost wages, and other losses
- Gathering proof of the at-fault party’s negligence
The insurance company might also try to blame you for your injuries. Since Georgia is a partial fault state, blaming you for the accident might reduce the insurance company’s liability—even if they are partly responsible.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer for Free Today
Before starting the negotiation process, you can benefit from contacting a lawyer. Our team at John Foy & Associates has 20-plus years of experience with this process. We know what it takes to win cases for our clients.
Contact us today for a free, no-risk consultation. There is no charge unless we win you compensation. Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for your free consultation.