A settlement is the most likely path for a claimant in an injury case to get compensation. Likewise, it's common for the defendant to want to negotiate the settlement. Consequently, it's a good idea for anyone planning to file a claim to understand how a personal injury attorney handles the negotiation process.

Initiating a Claim

The first order of business is officially initiating the claim. Most of the time, the victim of an incident or someone acting on their behalf will present a demand to the defendant.

Given how the statute of limitations applies to most claims, the law will usually expect you to send formal notice to the other side within two to three years. This varies by state, and a personal injury lawyer can tell you how it works in your state.

It is possible for a defendant to initiate the process, and some insurance companies choose to do this. However, you should expect to have to start it yourself.

The Demand

When a personal injury attorney sends paperwork to the defense, they will include a demand package. This outlines what the victim's injuries were, how the defendant was at fault, and what compensation is due.

Claims Adjuster

Presuming an insurance provider is involved, the company should appoint a claims adjuster. The adjuster is a professional who gathers all the information about the case and determines whether the claim is valid. Once they have determined a case is valid, the adjuster will tell the company that settling it is the best course of action. Likewise, they'll recommend a settlement amount.


The insurer will present the claimant with a settlement offer. It may be the amount from the original demand package, but it's not unusual for insurance companies to aim lower.

A personal injury lawyer is obligated to send every offer to their client. They can then explain whether they believe the client should accept.


If you don't accept the offer, you will likely need to counter. You might be tempted to sue, but most courts want to see the two parties attempt negotiations before considering a lawsuit. Notably, if you do sue, you will still have the option to settle the case as long as a jury hasn't come back with a judgment.

Both sides may go back and forth with offers and counteroffers. The goal is to find common ground. A personal injury attorney can let you know when they feel you've reached as good of a compensation package as you're likely to get.