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Negotiating Insurance Claims

Negotiation of Disability Claims

Negotiation involves reaching an agreement with the other side. The idea is that the agreement meets the best interests of both sides. Of course, this usually means that both sides have to make compromises. You won’t get everything you want and neither will the other side.

Know Your Bottom Line

Before you begin negotiating, figure out what your bottom line will be. That is the least you will accept in exchange for resolving the legal dispute. Never reveal your bottom line at any stage of the negotiations.

Begin your negotiations by asking for everything to which you believe you are legally entitled.

Present as many negotiable issues as you can and do not reveal their level of importance to you. That way, you can “give up” on an issue that was never really important to you to begin with. The other side will see this as a compromise and will be more willing to compromise in return.

Negotiating Without a Lawyer

If you are negotiating a legal problem without a lawyer, you should both sign an agreement first that says your negotiations are WITHOUT PREJUDICE. That means that whatever you say or write down in the process of negotiations won’t be used by either side if the matter ends up going to court.

If the negotiations fail, there are alternatives available to you other than court.

Small Claims Court or the Supreme Court of British Columbia – You Decide

When you are faced with a legal problem, try and settle the claim. Remember, settling a claim involves compromise on both sides.

If a compromise cannot be reached, you can go to court and have a judge decide the legal issue.

Generally speaking, there are two levels of courts that deal with legal disputes:

The Provincial Court Small Claims Division and The Supreme Court of British Columbia

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

The advantages of small claims court include:

  • a relatively short time to wait for a trial (about 8 months);
  • shorter trials (usually half a day);
  • relatively low costs; and
  • a mandatory settlement conference in front of a judge to try to settle the case.

The main disadvantage is that a judge cannot award more than $25,000.

The advantages of the Supreme Court of British Columbia include

    • No monetary limit on what you can claim;
    • Rules that provide for wider access to documents controlled by the other side; and
    • Your right (in most cases) to have the matter heard by a jury

The main disadvantages are:

  • A long wait for a trial date (up to 2 years)
  • Longer trials (usually 3 to 7 days in length)
  • Higher costs

Remember, before you decide WHERE to start a lawsuit, you must know WHEN to start a lawsuit. There are strict time limits and if you miss the time limit, you lose your right to sue. Don’t hesitate to consult a lawyer.