If you really want to get the case over and done with, sure you can accept the settlement. But, before you do, make sure you understand just what is happening here. Insurance companies put a great deal of effort into convincing auto accident victims that they don’t need an attorney and that they should just accept a quick settlement with no complaints. Why do you think they do this? It certainly isn’t out of the goodness of their hearts.
A study by the Insurance Research Council showed that that car crash victims who worked with a lawyer received 3.5 times more for their cases than victims who negotiated with the insurance adjuster themselves. That is a pretty significant difference, and it is exactly why the insurance company wants you to settle as quickly as possible—before you get the help of a skilled attorney.
The Initial Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company
After you’ve sustained injuries in an auto accident, the insurance company may try to offer you a settlement immediately. But, usually, this is a tactic to try to pressure you to accept a settlement that is too low. You can—and probably should—decline the insurance company’s first offer to settle, but we strongly recommend that you first speak with an experienced attorney who can review your case, determine the potential worth of your claim, clearly explain your rights, and help you negotiate for the compensation you truly deserve.
This initial offer rarely favors injured accident victims, and you should keep in mind that:
- The first offer is generally much lower than the actual worth of your claim. Insurance companies are like any other companies—they want to mitigate risk and protect their own bottom lines. Because of this, the first offer they make is likely to be less than your case is worth. Unfortunately, many victims end up accepting this first offer because they don’t understand how to negotiate further.
- The insurance company may try to hit you with the initial settlement offer before you understand the extent of your injuries. The insurance adjuster may start pressuring you to accept an offer before you have fully recovered, or even before you’ve left the hospital following an accident. Remember that there is no way to evaluate the worth of your claim before you have started to heal and have a good gauge of your prognosis.
- Legal guidance can increase your chances of success. An attorney who has hands-on experience with auto accident claims can offer guidance that will both help you protect your rights and more effectively negotiate with the insurance company’s legal team.
If an adjuster offers you money, you most likely should not accept it. Why? Because this is a common trick and the insurance companies usually will pay more, sometimes much more, than their early offers. There may be a lot of factors involved that you haven’t yet considered, and looming time limits for filing a claim may complicate the process. To learn about the value of your case and how to try to get the insurance company to pay that amount, contact us and we will help you.
When to Talk to an Attorney About a Settlement Offer
If you’re considering a settlement offer, it is really in your best interest to at least talk to a lawyer with experience handling the type of accident in which you were involved. You can talk about the pros and cons of hiring a lawyer, and maybe even get an idea of what your case might be worth—although this can be difficult to determine up front. Then, after you’ve done your homework, you’ll know whether or not just accepting a low settlement offer from the insurance company is the right move for you.
You may think the settlement is a generous amount, but this is because it is in the insurance company’s best interest to avoid a potentially more costly case in court. Keep in mind that, if you were offered a settlement from an insurance company, it is almost always worth it to pursue a case instead. Insurance companies don’t like to lose money. If they are willing to hand you a settlement, it means they think that paying you less money now will avoid the possibility of paying you more money later (when an attorney tells you how much your case could be worth).
When to Consider Accepting a Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company
Although you should not accept a settlement offer before you’ve spoken to an attorney, there is one exception to this general rule. If your claim does not involve any injuries, but instead only involves damage to your car, then you likely can accept an early offer. This is because the insurance companies like to get rid of these "property damage" claims as soon as possible. So, just get some information on the value of your car or the cost to repair your car, and if they are offering you an amount that falls in that range, go ahead and take it.
What Happens If I Accept a Settlement Offer and Still Have Medical Bills?
Many people who have been in car wrecks don't want to get a lawyer involved, and they may be tempted to accept an offer that doesn’t cover all their medical bills or the medical treatment they might need in the future. Using common sense, you would think that the insurance company for the at-fault driver would have to pay for your medical bills AND pay a settlement to you. That is not the case.
If the insurance company is offering you a settlement, your medical providers will be expected to be paid from that settlement. Often, this will leave people with little to nothing left over for the pain, impairment, lost wages, and other personal damages they have suffered. And, once you’ve accepted a settlement from the insurance company, that’s it—you won’t be able to go back later and ask for more.
Simply put, an insurance company will never offer a full, fair settlement to someone who is not represented by a trial lawyer. Once you have a lawyer, they will negotiate with the insurance company and your medical providers to ensure you get the most money in your pocket from any settlement or jury verdict. This is why it is so important to talk to a lawyer before you sign anything or accept money from the insurance company.
What to Do When the Insurance Company's Final Offer Is Too Small
Most people assume that the other driver's insurance company will be fair and do the right thing by paying their medical bills. Unfortunately, that is usually not the case, and the “final offer” may not be enough to cover the medical treatment needed. If this happens to you, you need to understand that an attorney can help you fight for the money you truly deserve, even if the insurance company is pressuring you to settle or threatening you with a low-ball “final offer.”
For example, we settled a case where our client, Mayra, came to us after many months of negotiating with the insurance company. Mayra was injured when a commercial truck driver hit her from behind while she was stopped. Mayra's medical bills started adding up, and she could not afford to keep paying the doctor's bills. The other driver's insurance company offered to pay only a small amount of the medical bills and said that Mayra should pay the rest of the bills.
Mayra did not want to file a lawsuit because she had never been involved in a lawsuit. However, Mayra did not think it was fair that she would have to pay thousands of dollars out of her own pocket for her injuries. Mayra contacted VB Attorneys to see what her options were and what to do about the unpaid medical bills. A letter was written to the other driver's insurance company to see if the medical bills would be paid before a lawsuit had to be filed. The insurance company sent a letter back that stated under no circumstances would they pay for the medical bills, and the offer was the “final offer.”
We filed a lawsuit on her behalf and, after a short time, the case settled. The insurance company paid all of Mayra's medical bills and compensated her for the pain and suffering she went through because of the crash. The settlement was significantly more than the insurance company's "final offer."
If you have been in injured in a wreck and the insurance company has sent you a letter offering an amount of money that will not even cover your medical bills, it is best to contact an experienced attorney. The insurance companies threaten injured people with phrases such as "final offer" and "take it or leave it" hoping to scare you into taking their inadequate settlement. You don't have to be pressured by the insurance company and forced to pay thousands of dollars for medical bills that were caused by someone else.
Chances are that, if you have been injured in a car accident, the insurance adjuster has already offered you a few thousand dollars to settle your claim. This may seem like a lot of money now, but it could turn out to be nothing compared to the amount of money you might eventually need to cover additional medical treatment. Once you accept a settlement and sign the release, you are stating that you will be responsible for the cost of any additional medical treatment. Consult an attorney before accepting any amount of money from the insurance company, and make sure that you are completely done with treatment and won't require any additional treatment in the future.
Get the Answers You Need About a Settlement Offer Today
After you’ve been hurt in an auto accident, it seems like there are always more questions than answers. However, there is an easy way to get the answers you need—at no cost or obligation. When you reach out to us, you will receive a completely free and confidential case review with an experienced lawyer who can explain your rights, address your concerns, and go over your options for taking action. To learn more, reach out to us today at 1-877-724-7800.