Don’t Accept the First Car Accident Settlement Offer. Here’s Why.
The claims representative for an insurance company is a trained professional paid to settle your accident claim on behalf of the insurance company. They have been known to contact an accident victim shortly after the accident occurs and make a settlement offer. When facing medical bills, vehicle damage expenses, etc., a quick settlement can be tempting. But you might want to think twice about accepting the first car accident settlement offer.
Adjusters know that you are stressed and in pain the initial days after an accident. They will try to take advantage of that. Most insurance adjusters have worked on thousands of claims and settlements, so they have the advantage in negotiating a car accident settlement directly with you. They’ll advise you that paying a fee to a personal injury lawyer is expensive and isn’t necessary because they can settle it for you quickly for a fair amount. What they won’t tell you is that a personal injury lawyer can help you recover a much higher amount that would be well worth his or her fee.
Car Accident lawyers also negotiate claims and settlements every day. The difference is who they are working for. The claims adjuster works for the insurance company that wants the claim settled for the least money. A personal injury lawyer works for you. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so they have a vested interest not only in winning your case, but in winning the maximum amount for your claim. They don’t get paid unless they win your case.
4 Big Reasons Not to Accept the Insurance Company’s First Settlement Offer
You are not under any obligation to accept an offer made by an insurance company. Insurance companies will often make an initial low-ball offer, hoping you feel desperate and need money right away. Here are four reasons you should pass on that first offer.
The total value of your injuries could take time to evaluate.
If you have suffered traumatic injuries in the accident, you might need months or years of treatment and rehabilitation. It’s essential not to accept the insurance company’s settlement offer until you know the whole nature and extent of your injuries. Settling a claim before your doctor has had a chance to determine a complete treatment plan and any necessary future medical treatment could result in a settlement amount that won’t cover your medical expenses.
The settlement may not compensate you for “pain and suffering.”
Injuries and vehicle damages, and the trauma of being in an accident can cause significant emotional and mental distress. In a court trial, the jury would take your pain and suffering into account. A settlement by an insurance company probably would not.
Working with the insurance company does not extend the time to file a lawsuit.
Personal injury cases in California have a Statute of Limitations, which means there is a pre-set amount of time that you have to file a claim. If you do not file a lawsuit by the time the Statute of Limitations expires, you give up your legal right to file a claim against the person at-fault for the car crash. The Statute of Limitations varies from state to state, and it also varies by other factors specific to your injury. You should discuss your potential case with an attorney right away to know how long you have before the Statute of Limitations is up on your potential claim. If the insurance company drags out the settlement process with information requests and you miss the deadline, you lose your claim.
Settlement agreements release your claims against all parties.
Once you accept the settlement offer and sign the release, you can’t file a personal injury lawsuit or ask for more money. Suppose you discover that you need surgery or cannot work full time. If you have accepted the settlement offer and signed the release, you do not have a legal claim against any party covered by the settlement agreement.
You don’t know how much your medical bills will eventually be, what repairs will need to be done to your car, or how much time you will lose from work. The claims adjuster wants you to agree on a settlement that may be much less than you deserve. You might accept a settlement because you need money now, but a year or two after you’ve spent the settlement money you could find yourself in debt due to more medical bills and lost wages. An experienced Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer can evaluate the offer to determine whether you are receiving fair compensation. Having a personal injury lawyer on your side offers you leverage, so the insurance company does not take advantage of you.
Talk to a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer that can Help you Deal with Your Claim.
Any time you are injured in a California car accident and dealing with an insurance company or another private party directly for your claim, you have the right to consult with a lawyer and have one represent you if you choose. Take the time to find the right personal injury lawyer for you. Look at his or her reputation and track record. Ask questions and choose the lawyer that you feel most comfortable working with. We invite you to call us for a free and confidential case evaluation. Eric Ratinoff has over 25 years of experience in dealing with insurance companies in personal injury cases.
When you need a negotiator that can tell your story and explain why your injury case deserves more money than the insurance company might be offering, then you need. Eric Ratinoff Law Corp. can ensure you get the total amount of damages to which you are entitled. Call us at (916) 579-7658 for a free consultation today.