How to Negotiate Higher Settlements


How Much Do You Really Want?

I focus my thoughts on how much I would want if I had to suffer with my client’s injury, and I never lose sight of that.

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Settling Cases Should Be a Game

Make settling a case a game. School was always a game to me. All throughout high school, college, and law school, I tried to see how well I could do without studying. If you lose sight of the game and focus on the money, you’ll blink, and you just lost.

When I started my law practice, settling cases became a game. I would call a couple of friends and ask them how much they thought my case was worth. My goal was to settle the case for double that number. I always demanded either the entire policy or 3-4 times more than my friend said the case was worth. On the rare occasion that I couldn’t get what I wanted, I took the case to trial.

Problem Cases

Don’t focus on the problems you have with your case. My cases don’t have problems; they only have solutions. I focus on the problems that the insurance company has, and I let them know what they are.

Insurance companies really don’t want to try cases. It not only costs them a lot of money to manage the case from start to finish and to hire experts for trial, but they have a lot more to lose. Not only could they lose their entire policy in addition to the cost of managing the case, but they are terrified of an excess verdict against their insured. To me, an excess verdict is like free advertising.

Why Is Your Case Worth So Much Money?

Insurance companies really want to pay you. You just have to show the value and, most importantly, why it’s worth what you want. Lawyers often forget the word WHY.

I just watched two TV shows about trials, 48 Hours and Dateline. On both of these TV shows, the defense lawyer strongly believed in their client’s innocence, while it appeared to me that they were obviously guilty. What I found striking was that in the clips of closing arguments for both trials and the interviews of both defense lawyers, they continually blamed the police and prosecutors and said they couldn’t be trusted but never said why.

Close to the Claims Representative

When closing to the jury, don’t be afraid to ask for a lot of money. It’s not a lot of money; it’s just a lot more than you think it’s worth based on what you think you know. You just can’t ask for a lot of money without explaining why. The easiest way to figure out how to explain the amount you’re asking for is to start thinking about how much you would want if you are injured with that injury.

When trying to settle your case with the insurance company claims representative, just pretend you’re closing to the jury.

Substituting a Previous Lawyer Who Demanded Too Little

I don’t care if a previous lawyer demanded too little from the insurance company or what he/she told the insurance company about the case. It has no relevance to anything except that the previous lawyer didn’t know what they were doing.

My first case was one where my client’s previous lawyer demanded $75,000, although the insurance policy was $300,000. All my friends thought I was crazy to take the case and said that I’ll never get more than $75,000. I took the case, and the insurance company tried to settle for $75,000.

I told the claims representative that they missed their opportunity, and I was now demanding the entire policy. I said just because some other idiot thought the case was worth $75,000 doesn’t mean that I have to be an idiot. That’s why the client came to me. I asked the insurance company why they were so stupid for not taking the offer. The claims representative was silent for a long time. After several seconds, he said, “I’ll be honest, we screwed up.” I settled the case several months later for $300,000 and found two more policies of $10,000 each that the first lawyer didn’t know about.

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