Should I Accept a Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company?
After an accident, you should be focused on healing. However, when your physical condition stabilizes, you may become more focused on resolving your personal injury and/or property damage claim. The liability insurer for the at-fault party may make an initial settlement offer very quickly.
Insurance companies often rush to offer insurance settlements before a person completes medical treatment or consults with a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer. However, accepting an offer from the insurance company without legal advice may not be in your best interest.
In most cases, people who accept the first offer from an insurance company receive less money for their injury claim than those who engage in settlement negotiation. Taking time to learn about your legal options before accepting a settlement offer can increase your chance of receiving maximum compensation for your claim.
Why Do Some Insurance Companies Rush to Offer a Settlement?
You may be surprised to receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. However, there may be a reason for a quick settlement offer.
First, the insurance company may want to settle your claim before you realize the extent of your damages and injuries. For example, car accidents can cause severe injuries. However, some injuries may take longer to diagnose and treat.
If the other driver’s insurance company can convince you to accept a settlement agreement, it may save money. Once you accept the settlement agreement, you release all parties from any further liability. Therefore, if your doctor diagnoses additional injuries, you cannot demand more money for your claim.
Second, the insurance provider wants to push a settlement agreement before you have a chance to speak with a personal injury attorney. This practice is common with auto accidents and other injury cases.
If you speak with a lawyer about your case, you might realize that you are entitled to compensation for more than just your medical bills and lost wages. You will learn that you are also entitled to damages for the pain and suffering you experienced because of the injury.
What Should You Do if the Insurance Company Offers You a Settlement?
It can be tempting to accept a settlement offer after an injury or accident. Receiving money from a settlement can help you pay the bills until you heal and go back to work.
The insurance adjuster understands that you may be experiencing financial difficulties and may be under a significant amount of stress. They use this situation to their advantage by offering a quick, low settlement offer.
It is not in your best interest to accept a settlement offer without speaking with an attorney. The initial settlement offer from the insurance company is probably not fair. The offer may be much lower than the value of your damages.
If the insurance company sends you a check, do not cash the check. You could give up your right to seek full compensation for all damages. Instead, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
When Should I Accept a Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company?
Never accept a settlement offer until your doctor releases you from treatment. You cannot know the extent of your injuries until you finish your medical treatments. In addition, your doctor could issue a permanent impairment rating after you complete treatment, which would increase the value of your injury claim.
If you sustain minor injuries, complete your medical treatment, and understand the value of your damages, you could negotiate a settlement with the claims adjuster. When the adjuster makes a settlement offer, ask for a complete breakdown of the offer. Then, review each item to determine how much the company is paying for each of your damages.
The types of damages in a personal injury claim may include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses
- Personal care
- Nursing care
- Lost wages and benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Travel expenses to medical appointments
- Help with household chores
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Remember, you are not obligated to accept the initial settlement offer. You can negotiate a higher amount. When you make a counteroffer, keep the offer reasonable and be prepared to back up your claim with proof of damages.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer to Handle the Insurance Claim?
It is always wise to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement offer. If you are unsure what to do, err on the side of caution and obtain legal advice before accepting the insurance company’s offer to settle the claim.
Remember, the insurance claims adjuster does not work for you. They work to protect the insurance company. The insurance company is under no obligation to settle your claim or pay you a fair amount for your claim. You must protect yourself.
Some situations that strongly indicate the need to consult with a lawyer include:
- You sustained severe injuries
- Your medical bills and expenses are high
- The insurance company denies liability or states that you are partially to blame for the cause of the accident
- You were out of work for a substantial amount of time as you recovered from the injuries
- You sustained a permanent impairment or disability
- The claims adjuster is pressuring you to accept a settlement offer
- You are not familiar with your damages
The insurance company may use a computer program to value your case. However, your case may not fit neatly into a standard formula. There could be many factors that impact how much to expect from an accident settlement.
An attorney may retain one or more expert witnesses to assist in valuing your claim by projecting the cost of future medical care and loss of income. A lawyer works with your physicians to document the extent of your injuries to maximize recovery. With this evidence in hand, your attorney can demand a higher settlement amount.
Do Not Get Caught by a Delay Tactic
The insurance company could go in the opposite direction. It may ignore your claim or delay the claim. The company could be delaying the claim for a couple of reasons.
It may be trying to wear you down so that you will accept a lower settlement amount. However, it could also want to delay the case past the Texas statute of limitations.
There is a two-year deadline for filing most personal injury lawsuits. Miss the deadline and lose your right to pursue legal action.
Therefore, if the insurance company refuses to negotiate a settlement or your medical treatment takes more than a year, talk with a lawyer to protect your right to file a lawsuit seeking damages for an injury.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Fort Worth Personal Injury Lawyer
It does not cost you anything to speak with a Fort Worth personal injury attorney about your case. Call today to schedule your free consultation to learn more about how a lawyer can help you get the money you deserve after an accident or injury.