Personal Injury Claims in Charlotte: Demands & Settlement Negotiations
Understanding the process of settling injury claims in North Carolina
Sustaining a personal injury due to someone else's negligence or intentional act can be a life-altering experience. Whether you are dealing with medical bills, lost wages, or physical and emotional pain, the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming. In these situations, filing a personal injury claim can help you seek compensation for your losses and hold the responsible party accountable. However, the process of negotiating a settlement for your personal injury claim can be complex and time-consuming. This is where understanding the ins and outs of settlement negotiations can make all the difference in getting the compensation you deserve.
It's important to understand what to expect during negotiations, how to negotiate with insurance adjusters, and strategies for reaching a favorable settlement. You should also know how to prepare for negotiations, how to document your damages and losses, and what to do if you are unable to settle. It’s crucial to work with a Charlotte personal injury attorney to navigate the settlement negotiation process with confidence and achieve the best possible outcome for your personal injury claim.
Frequently Asked Questions about personal injury claim settlement negotiations
What is a demand letter?
Almost every personal injury victim wants to settle their case instead of going to trial, if the settlement offer compensates the victim for their damages. The negotiation of a settlement requires a lot of skill. You should never negotiate a settlement on your own. Once you settle your personal injury claim, there’s no do-over. This is important because victims almost always fail to ask for the damages they deserve or fail to properly value their claim without the help of an experienced attorney.
Price, Petho & Associates typically negotiates settlements after the investigation is complete and after the discovery phase of your personal injury claim is complete. The settlement negotiations begin with a formal demand letter. We prepare this letter and submit it to the adjusters for the defendant’s insurance companies.
The demand letter is a formal letter that sets forth:
- Why we think the insured is liable for the accident. The insured includes drivers, vehicle owners, property owners, manufacturers, doctors, dog owners, and other defendants.
- Why we think the defense’s argument fails to have merit. We also explain why any of the defense’s arguments will likely be unpersuasive.
- Your financial damages and why you’re entitled to those damages. This part of the demand letter normally includes medical reports, medical bills, lost income statements, property damage estimates, and other financial information.
- Your losses. We explain every way your injuries have affected your life, how much we think those losses are, and why we placed the value we demand for those losses.
The damages part of the demand letter includes all your financial and personal damages to date – and the financial and personal damages you’ll have for the rest of your life.
The demand letter normally includes any reports from experts that support your personal injury claim.
How do your lawyers negotiate my accident claim with the insurance adjusters?
After the demand letter is sent and we receive the insurance company’s response, your case will be settled immediately (if you decide to accept the settlement offer). If you do not accept the offer, then normally there is some back and forth until everyone reaches an agreement.
What happens if the carrier negotiates in bad faith?
If the insurance company fails to negotiate in good faith, we file a separate lawsuit against the insurance company to hold them responsible for paying a fair amount, paying the legal fees for the bad faith lawsuit, paying any statutory damages that may apply, and paying any other possible damages depending on the extent of the bad faith.
Bad faith negotiation includes more than just failing to make a legitimate offer. Bad faith includes making misrepresentations, failing to respond, delaying responses, contesting issues completely unreasonable, and other efforts to unreasonably deny or lowball your claim.
Ultimately, you decide to either accept the insurance company’s latest offer or proceed to a jury trial. We’ll help you decide which option – settlement or trial – is best for you.
How do insurance companies decide how much my case is worth?
The insurance company/companies for the defendant(s) will review the demand letter. They will normally either accept the amount of our demand, make a lower offer, or state that they cannot offer any damages because they don’t think their defendant is liable.
There are several factors insurance companies use that determine the insurance company’s response.
- The amount of coverage is a key factor. If your claim is clearly worth more than the policy limits, even if the adjuster thinks it’s worth less than our demand, they should offer to pay the policy limits. Failure to pay the policy limits in a clear case could be considered “bad faith.” We do have the right to know how much insurance coverage the insurance company has for their insured. In car accident claims, if your claim is worth more than the policy limits, we will review your right to file an uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) claim.
- The merits of the liability phases of the case. The insurance company’s response considers the strengths and weaknesses of your claim and their client’s position. Normally, the insurance company will rely on input from the defense lawyer for the insured.
- How much they believe your claim is worth. This review considers whether your injuries have healed or whether, as is often the case, you still need medical care and will still have pain – possibly for the rest of your life.
- The results in similar cases. Insurance companies typically use software and database results from prior cases to place a value on your case.
The insurance company’s response also considers what type of witness you’ll make and how professional and persuasive your lawyer is. Defense attorneys and insurance companies know that our skilled lawyers are likely to obtain a result at trial that is near or even higher than the amount in our demand letter. For this reason, they are often willing to negotiate from a higher initial award amount than they would typically offer.
How is my settlement award distributed?
If the insurance company agrees to a settlement, they’ll send our office a check for the amount of the settlement. We will then prepare an accounting. The accounting explains:
- Fees paid to anyone who advanced funds for court costs, expert witnesses, and other litigation expenses, according to the terms of the contingency fee agreement.
- Fees paid to any health providers or others who agreed to delay payment until your case was resolved or any insurers who made payments on your behalf.
- Our fee, based on your contingency fee agreement.
- Your award.
In some cases, such as when the victim is a child, a structured settlement is used to ensure the medical bills are paid and that the remaining funds are paid over time, like until the child turns 18 or when other settlement and legal terms are met.
The attorneys at Price, Petho & Associates will also provide you with a settlement sheet that shows a breakdown of all proceeds, costs, and how they are disbursed.
Are there alternatives to litigation?
Most personal injury cases that don’t settle are submitted for a jury trial. Some personal injury disputes are decided in alternative ways. These alternative ways include arbitration, where a neutral third person(s) decides your case, or mediation, where a professional tries to forge a settlement.
Generally, juries offer more compensation than you’ll obtain in arbitration or mediation. The advantages of arbitration and mediation are that they are normally faster, less costly, less formal, and friendlier.
Arbitration is often used in nursing home/assisted living abuse and neglect cases and when the victim waived his/her rights to a jury trial in a contract.
We generally encourage our personal injury clients to seek a jury trial instead of arbitration or mediation, but all circumstances are different.
What is a covenant not to sue?
Investopedia explains a covenant not to sue:
A covenant not to sue is a legal agreement that obliges a party that could seek damages to refrain from suing the party that it has cause against. A covenant not to sue may indicate that the potential claimant will not sue in perpetuity, or may indicate that the claimant may postpone a lawsuit for a defined period of time.
Parties may sign a covenant not to sue before entering into mediation or any other type of negotiation outside of the courtroom. This agreement, per Investopedia, “preserves the existence of the cause of action” but also places restrictions on your ability to file a lawsuit now and in the future.
What is a release of liability?
It is important not to confuse a covenant not to sue with a release of liability. Per Investopedia, a release of liability is “a waiver or relinquishment of a known right. A release of liability will relinquish or destroy the injured party's cause of action” completely.
Do you have a personal injury lawyer near me?
Yes, we do. While our central office is located at 1430 Elizabeth Ave. in Charlotte, we have additional satellite offices located in Rutherfordton and in Rockingham. If you’re too ill to come to our office, we will make arrangements to see you at your home, a healthcare facility, or through a video conference.
Speak with an experienced Charlotte personal injury lawyer today
Price, Petho & Associates has been a strong advocate for personal injury victims since 1979. Our Charlotte personal injury attorneys understand that most clients prefer to settle their cases than attend a jury trial. We take all the necessary steps to negotiate the strongest settlement possible. Many of our clients settle for insurance policy limits. If a trial is necessary, we’ll prepare you so you can anticipate what happens in court.
Please call us or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation. Serving Charlotte, Rockingham, Rutherfordton, and North Carolina.