TOPIC NO. 001
BEATS WITH BRIAN
LET THE BEAT DROP IN
By BRIAN ELSTON
It was sixth grade and, for the first time, there was going to be a school dance. I was looking forward to it, but was feeling nervous and intimidated. Yes, I could “Jump” to Kriss-Kross, but that was the extent of it. So, I listened to music, watched MTV (they played music back then), and tried to practice in front of the mirror. My older, and much, much cooler sister heard what was going on. I showed her my moves, and despite the fact that she could have absolutely destroyed my confidence, gave me a couple of pointers and expanded the repertoire by adding some moves (e.g. Roger Rabbit and Running Man). When I went to the dance, wearing my best sweater, I was able to break it down to all the songs and had a great night.
If you never done it before, engaging in direct settlement negotiations with a claims adjuster can be as intimidating as a sixth-grader going to their first dance. You’ve probably (and hopefully) never had to settle a personal injury claim, so you aren’t sure of what moves to make, the tone of the conversation, and what to do.
In my first blog post, I’m going to lay down the beat about settlement negotiations with a claims adjuster.
1) Know your Dance Partner:
The most important thing about dancing, and engaging in settlement negotiations, is to know the individual across from you. Settling a personal injury claim is a process, and you should get to know the claims adjuster. Are they a “just the facts ma’am” or are they chatty? Have they been a claims adjuster since the dawn of time or is this a new career? Do they have compassion fatigue or are they sympathetic? More importantly, how do you interact with each different personality type? You don’t want to step on your partner’s shoes when negotiating, so you’ve got to know their style.
Jonathan Farrington wrote a great article on negotiating with the four personality types, the Director, he Socializer, the Supporter, and the Clinician.
As a personal injury attorney, fortunately, we get to work with many of the same claims adjusters. I know what they need and don’t need in order to evaluate a claim. I know if they prefer email or telephone. More importantly, I’ve built a relationship with them, so there’s a level of trust already in place.
2) Get Ready for the Dance:
I think that when people hear “settlement negotiation” they think of on-the-spot come-backs, boileroom pressure, and yelling in a phone until you get what you want. No. Settlement negotiations are a process and you’ve got to prepare from the beginning.
For instance, you’ve got to look at all the factors that comprise the value of your claim. You’ve got to compile medical records, bills, and even asking medical providers if there is any future treatment you may need.
Long gone are the days of just asking for 2 or 3 times medical bills. Using that approach today is like doing the Macarena to the new Post Malone. The claims adjuster will know you are out of style and know they have the upper hand.
In order to evaluate a claim, I’ll spend hours going over medical bills, records, opinions, lost wages, reviewing the accident report, property damage claim, and any other document relevant to the claim. Then, before even speaking with the adjuster, I’ll collect my thoughts and figure out my approach. I want to be sure that my moves are on-point and am prepared.
3) Time to let the Beat Drop:
When you have all your claim documents, figured out your strategy and approach, then it’s time to negotiate. Negotiating should not take place while grocery shopping at Ingles, when you have a car full of kids, or when you just wake up. You should be in a place where you have a clear phone connection, documents in front of you, and mentally and physically ready to negotiate. In other words, you should be the one to let the beat drop.
In one particular case, an adjuster called a client first thing in the morning and soon after the accident. Still groggy and on pain-meds, the client agreed to the adjuster’s offer. He came to see me afterwards. I was able to increase the offer based on some things that were not considered, but the deal had essentially been made.
If a claims adjuster calls you, and you are not ready to discuss the claim, schedule a time to call them back. You can decide when to let the beat drop.
As a personal injury attorney, I will schedule a call, set up a voluntary mediation, or even catch up with the other attorney over coffee to discuss. In each scenario, I want to be sure that I am ready and not caught off guard.
Just like a middle-school dance, engaging with settlement negotiations with a claims adjuster for the first time can be nerve-wracking, intimidating, and awkward. In order for settlement negotiations to go smoothly, you’ve got to know the claims adjuster, prepare for negotiations, and resolve the matter at the right time.
Fortunately, engaging in settlement discussions with claims adjuster is not the first dance for the attorneys at Brian Elston Law. Our attorneys have resolved hundreds of claims and recovered millions of dollars on behalf of their clients. Our attorneys know when and how to negotiate to provide each client with maximum justice, and minimum stress.When it’s time for the big dance, Brian Elston Law is able to assist in resolving your personal injury claim. – Brian