As an injured accident victim, you most likely want to obtain a settlement as quickly as possible. You want the at-fault party to pay for the medical bills that are stacking up or your weeks of lost wages. It is critical to your financial future, however, not to quickly accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer. Take your time understanding the value of your claim and reviewing the offer before saying yes.
What to Expect From the Insurance Settlement Process
Achieving an insurance settlement means the insurance company receiving your claim is accepting liability for your losses (called damages in legalese) and paying you compensation to make you whole again. When you accept an insurance settlement, you are agreeing to halt any further legal action against the defendant for the accident or injury in exchange for the agreed-upon amount of money.
Most personal injury claims settle at the insurance stage, meaning the injured party (plaintiff) does not have to take the at-fault party (defendant) to court to receive financial compensation. Before an insurance company will grant a settlement, however, you will need to prove your losses and the defendant’s liability for them.
Proof during an insurance claim often takes the form of police reports, medical records, receipts, pay stubs, eyewitness statements, photographs, videos and expert testimony. You will need to submit this evidence along with your insurance claim for the company to review. If the claims adjuster believes you have a valid claim, it will accept it and offer a payout in the form of a settlement. You can either accept or deny the first offer.
What If the Offer Is Too Low?
Once you accept a settlement, you cannot go back and negotiate for a higher amount – even if you discover later that you require further medical care or additional surgeries. This is why it is critical to make sure the first offer is not too low before you accept. Saying yes to a settlement that does not adequately cover your losses could mean failing to obtain the money you need to pay for your future damages, with no further legal recourse available.
You have the right to negotiate for a settlement that adequately compensates you for past and future economic and noneconomic losses, including medical bills, lost wages, property repairs, and pain and suffering. If the initial settlement offer from the insurance company is too low, you or a Glendale personal injury lawyer can answer the offer with a higher amount. Then, the insurance company can send a counteroffer, and so on, until you both agree on an amount. If you cannot agree, your case will have to go to trial instead.
Importance of Consulting With an Attorney Before Accepting a Settlement Offer
It can be difficult to understand the full and fair value of your injury claim alone, without assistance from an attorney. This is most likely your first experience with the injury claims process. Before accepting any type of insurance settlement, consult with a personal injury attorney about the value of your claim. A lawyer can prevent you from making common settlement mistakes.
- Accepting the very first offer.
- Settling for less than your claim is worth.
- Admitting fault for the accident or injury.
- Agreeing to give a recorded statement.
- Saying yes to a settlement before you are fully healed.
- Ignoring the possibility of additional medical costs in the future.
An injury attorney will want the same thing you do – to maximize your payout. Unlike an insurance company, your lawyer will want to obtain the best possible financial outcome on your behalf. You can trust the value your lawyer places on your injury claim. If your lawyer believes the insurance company’s offer is too low, he or she can help you negotiate for a more reasonable amount. Hiring a lawyer can enable you to settle for what your claim is really worth.