How to Negotiate a Personal Injury Claim with GEICO
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As one of the largest insurance providers in the country, GEICO provides over 17 million auto policies and insures over 28 million vehicles. This large customer base means that they are a popular choice within the city of El Paso, and that either you or a loved one carry their insurance. While insurance companies attempt to garner business by holding themselves out friendly and reliable, it is important that they are business set up to make a profit. Simply put, they want to take in as much money as possible and pay out as little money as possible. This means that if you have suffered injuries in an accident, GEICO may want to pay you as little as is required under the law. The personal injury lawyers at the Zinda Law Group can help you pursue the maximum amount possible in a claim.
If you or a loved one has been in an accident, you don't have to deal with GEICO alone. Call (512) 246 2224 for a FREE case evaluation. If we don't reach a favorable settlement in your case, you won't owe us anything.
How to File a Personal Injury Claim with GEICO After a Car Accident
After your car accident, you will need to contact GEICO in order to file a claim. That claim will be assigned to a claims adjuster, who will be required to follow company guidelines in trying to settle your claim. As a large insurance company, GEICO’s claims adjuster will assign a value to your claim based on certain criteria such as the value of your car as determined by similar vehicles in the area or medical bills. However, the total settlement offered by GEICO may come in much lower than your estimated value of the case. For example, you may value your claim at twice your medical costs, while GEICO may come up with a much lower because of their database value of your claim. Therefore, the trick lies in getting the adjuster to move away from their valuation of the claim and towards your own valuation.
How to Negotiate Your Injury Claim
When you are ready to begin negotiating your claim with GEICO, there are a few tried and true techniques that may prove helpful. Every case is different, and there is no way to guarantee results, but these techniques can provide some helpful insight and places to start.
Make the First Offer
This technique runs counter to the popular belief that the party who makes the first offer ultimately will end up losing. However, making the first offer allows you to take control of the negotiation and center the discussions around your offer, rather than the number generated by the claims adjuster. This is what is known as the “anchoring effect.” Simply put, the anchoring effect is a cognitive bias that causes you too rely too heavily on the first piece of information that you receive. When deployed effectively, making the first offer can give you the upper hand and result in a larger settlement.
Be Aggressive but not Outrageous
If your claim is probably only worth around $3,000, then do not come out of the gates demanding $3,000,000. Demanding a number that is clearly too high and not backed up by the facts of the case can make you come off as greedy and unreasonable. While “anchoring” is an effective technique when used as discussed above, starting with a number that is too high means that you will be forced to end up making drastic concessions and bring your number way down. That being said, demanding the limits of the insurance policy is not a bad strategy if you have the facts to back it up.
Know Your Bottom Line
Before you begin negotiations, know what the smallest amount of money is that you would be willing to accept in a settlement. Obviously, this number will not be used in negotiations, but it is a good starting point for yourself before you begin to talk with a claims adjuster. If GEICO refuses to offer a settlement that you feel is fair and reasonable, be willing to walk away—there may be other legal options that you have not yet considered.
Mirror the Claims Adjuster’s Behavior
“Mirroring”, a technique often used in sales, is when one person attempts to adopt the physical and verbal behaviors of another as a way to build rapport and foster agreement. Although it may sound manipulative, research shows that, when done effectively, it can bring parties to a common ground and reach the same conclusions. Aside from mirroring, do your best to be affable and congenial. Claims adjusters have a certain amount of discretion, and they will be more willing to go with your settlement offers if your conversations are relatively friendly.
Give a Settlement Range
When you offer a range of acceptable settlements at the outset of negotiations, you show that you are reasonable, and being reasonable goes a long way. If the adjuster sees that you are flexible and understanding, they will be more willing to enter into a productive conversation with you. Not every tactic will work, and it is important to understand that GEICO adjusters are good at their jobs, which is to keep money in the pockets of their employer.
That being said, claims that should be settled typically are. It may take either side some time to get to a conclusion that they feel happy about, but that is the nature of negotiating. It will be give and take to reach an outcome that is beneficial for both parties.
Can a Lawyer Help Increase my Offer From GEICO?
An experienced attorney can certainly help increase your odds of receiving a high settlement offer from GEICO. The attorneys at the Zinda Law Group will be able to help you in every facet of your case, a few of which include:
If you are going it alone, it can be difficult to know what facts will become important in negotiating an eventual settlement. An attorney will know where to gather the relevant information, which may include medical records, police reports, and any available photos or video footage, and how to analyze that material.
Communications with GEICO
As stated before, GEICO claims adjusters are good at their job. As part of their job, they would like to get you talking freely and eventually say something that may damage your case, keeping money in the GEICO coffers. An experienced attorney will handle communications for you and avoid saying anything that may decrease your bargaining power in settlement negotiations.
Simply put, an attorney can fight for you every step of the way. When negotiating with an insurance company, it can feel lonely, and like you are the only person with your interests in mind. Your attorney will stand by you and represent your interests at every stage of the settlement process.
What Proof Will I Need to Prove How Much Compensation I Need?
When you are seeking a settlement from GEICO, the burden of proof for your damages will fall to you. This means that you should be very careful in documenting your accident to make sure that you seek compensated for all your losses. The evidence you will likely need falls into a few different categories:
Evidence from the Scene of the Accident
No matter how small the accident may seem, call the police and make a report. This is a critical piece of evidence in establishing fault later on. In addition, gather the contact and insurance information from the other driver or drivers involved, as well as the contact information from any potential witnesses to the accident. Finally, take pictures of your car, the other car, and the scene where the accident took place.
Evidence of Vehicle Damages
This typically comprises the most significant portion of a settlement. Gather all records for car repairs and car rentals. This includes repairs made before the crash took place. For example, if you got four new tires the day before the accident, this may increase the value of your vehicle.
Evidence of Medical Damages
Keep a complete journal of all your medical appointments, including who you saw and why you saw them. After treatment and release, ask your doctor for a complete copy of your medical records.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim?
Your GEICO insurance policy will likely include a provision stating that you should begin the claims process at the time of the accident or very soon after. While this is advisable, it is not a requirement. Insurance companies may be suspicious of delayed claims, and they may be harder to defend the longer you wait. In addition, claims must be brought within the timeframe established by the “statute of limitations,” which is the legal term for how long you have after an accident to bring a claim. In Texas, the applicable statute of limitations is two years.
The Negotiations and Claims Process with a Lawyer
No two car accidents are exactly the same, which means that no two claims negotiations will be exactly the same. However, the process will generally follow the same few steps.
1. Contact an Attorney
The legal process is long and complicated. Hiring an experienced attorney who will fight for you is an important first step in any lawsuit.
2. Information Gathering
Once you have hired an attorney, they can begin the process of gathering the necessary information. This includes things like looking over police reports, analyzing any pictures or video footage of the accident that may be available, and conducting interviews with witnesses.
3. Negotiate a Settlement
Once your attorney has a solid handle on the facts of the case, they can begin to seek a favorable settlement through negotiations with the other party or parties. At this juncture, it is critical that you have an experienced attorney on your side, as the other parties involved will naturally want to pay out as little as possible.
OUR AUSTIN CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS CAN HELP
Negotiating with claims adjusters is very difficult. The best option for you might be to have experienced car accident attorneys negotiate on your behalf.
At Zinda Law Group, our personal injury attorneys have successfully negotiated settlements with GEICO and will work diligently to seek a fair and just resolution of your claim.
Contact us at (303) 731-0275 today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you with your claim against GEICO.
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