How to Respond to a Low Settlement Offer
If you have filed a claim against ICBC for injuries sustained in an accident, chances are that the first settlement offer you get will not be the amount that you expect or deserve. This is because ICBC is not looking out for you. Because you are making a claim against the liable motorist’s insurance policy, ICBC has a contractual duty to defend that person. The adjuster is not there to advocate on your behalf but rather to save themselves, and perhaps the other motorist, money.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to handle a low-ball settlement offer. An experienced car accident lawyer can help guide you through the negotiation process.
How Long Will It Take to Receive a Settlement Offer?
The amount of time that ICBC may take to respond to a claim varies. The insurance company will make a settlement offer when it determines there is sufficient information to assess the claim. Sometimes this will be after reviewing medical records, police reports and witness statements although in many cases the investigation will be cursory, at best. This offer may come as soon as a couple of weeks after making the claim, or it could take much longer.
There is no time limit for the insurance company to make an offer. However, they must act in good faith. It is permissible to contact the insurance company to remind them that you are waiting for an offer. In some cases, ICBC will attempt to settle quickly before a lawyer gets involved. In other cases the ICBC adjuster may avoid making an offer hoping that the limitation date will pass and your ability to receive compensation will be forfeited.
What to Do If the Initial Settlement Offer Is Low
It is very likely that the first settlement offer will be lower than what you expected. It is important not to overreact and fire back an emotional response to a lowball offer. This could hurt your claim.
Furthermore, it is important to understand that any claim by the insurance adjuster that there is no room for negotiation is false. Do not let their statements deter you from requesting a fair amount. Instead, hire a lawyer who has experience negotiating for a fair settlement on your behalf.
How Lawyers Can Negotiate a Better Settlement
Upon receiving the settlement offer, your lawyer will examine it and will evaluate the reasons that the adjuster offered that amount. The lawyer will examine all available documentation ICBC has relied upon to assess the value of your claim. Typically, the information gathered by ICBC will be insufficient; why pay to investigate your claim when you might settle quickly and cheaply? Your lawyer will determine what additional information is required in order to make a demand for a fair settlement. This additional information may include medical records, police reports, witness statements, proof of lost wages, and documents and photos depicting changes in lifestyle.
An experienced lawyer may consult with experts to strengthen your claim. Experts may include doctors who can explain effects of your medical condition, an economist who can prove future earnings, or a psychologist who can discuss emotional suffering. All of this information and evidence could be extremely helpful in presenting an effective counteroffer.
Your legal team will likely make sure that your counteroffer includes evidence about how the accident has affected your daily life. In addition to the specific evidence of the damages such as the reports and photos, the counteroffer might contain examples of a day in your life to show how hard it is to live with these injuries. This could include examples of the difficulties encountered in performing normal, daily activities, as well as the emotional effect of the injuries.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Counteroffers may go back and forth for an extended period. It is important to have a qualified lawyer who has the experience dealing with ICBC. For your best chances of reaching a fair settlement, contact the car accident lawyers at Klein Lawyers, LLP. We have over 20 years of experience helping car accident victims in British Columbia. We know what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve.
Call us or contact us online today to schedule a consultation with us.