When you are involved in a vehicle accident, it can be a scary and stressful time. Personal accidents can have lifelong debilitating implications. They are often traumatic. When you have been injured, you may have considered filing a personal injury claim.
When you file, you are most likely dealing with someone else’s insurance company. The insurance company will ask a lot of questions and require documentation to determine your settlement amount. Often, they do not offer you enough for a settlement.
It is common for many people to accept the first offer they receive. They do this out of fear this is the best offer they can get, worry about the bills, and want to eliminate stress. That does not mean it is the best offer or the best option for your needs.
Before you file a claim or accept an offer, you should be aware of all of your rights and options. This article will help you understand what happens when you are offered a settlement if you should take it, and what your next steps should be. If you still need help with an accident settlement, contact the professionals at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law.
What to Do When You Have Been in an Accident?
If you have been in an accident, the first thing you should do is contact the police. You definitely want to do this if there are injuries.
You should still consider it even if there do not seem to be any apparent injuries. They may come later. The police can make a determination about fault and issue tickets to those at fault. This could be helpful to you if you decide to pursue a lawsuit.
You want to ensure you get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of everyone involved, as well as any witnesses that are there. It would be best if you also recorded the license plates of the other vehicles involved.
Contacting your insurance company is also an important step. If you are injured, or even if you do not have obvious injuries, you should seek medical attention.
You should receive treatment immediately after an accident to assess the severity of your injuries and determine your next course of action.
If you think you want to file a claim, you will need proof of your injuries. You will need to keep records of all your medical visits and treatment.
What to Know About Insurance Companies?
Before you proceed with a claim, there are some tips you should know about insurance companies. The amount they offer you as a settlement has a large amount to do with the type of insurance they are and the industry in which they operate.
No matter what type of insurance it is, they are interested in themselves first. They are going to do what is in their best interest, which is saving money. Typically, you do not want to accept the first offer they give you, but more about that later in the article.
When you are in a car accident, and you have sustained injuries, it could be your insurance company or the insurance company of another party that is settling your claim. Insurance companies look at fault, injuries sustained, and the insurance coverage from your policy.
Regardless, the determination of fault is not as clear cut as it may seem. Even if you have a police report that determines another party is at fault, the court could decide you have some percentage of the blame.
If that is the case, whatever percentage of blame you have comes out of your settlement. For example, if it has been determined that you share 10 percent of the blame, and your settlement amount is $100,000, you are going to get 90 percent of it. This is because you are at fault for 10 percent, and that is taken off of your settlement amount.
An insurance company is allowed to make you an offer that is not be in your best interest. Insurance companies look out for themselves and the interests of their shareholders, not you, even if this is your insurance company.
When you have a personal injury case, it is your legal right to go through the courts for compensation. Just because the insurance company prefers to settle out of court, it does not mean you have to.
However, it could be equally beneficial for your to settle without going to court. The court process could take months or even years. You are also taking a chance by going to court because you could lose and end up with nothing. A settlement is often a compromise.
When to Contact a Lawyer
In general, any time you feel like you need help with an accident settlement, you should contact a lawyer. However, there are also some other instances when you should contact a lawyer.
For example, when you suffer from physical injuries or damage to your vehicle, you may be want to consider contacting a lawyer. You may also be considering an insurance settlement, which means you want to talk to a lawyer.
In situations like this, you may feel a large amount of stress. You do not want to take on any more stress by attempting to deal with this situation on your own.
Navigating the court and legal syndrome without a lawyer means you may also have to negotiate with insurance agents. When you are considering the idea of negotiating with insurance companies, you want someone that is experienced with this situation.
When you have an experienced attorney, they know when you should negotiate hard with the insurance adjustor. Negotiating with the insurance company helps to keep you out of court, which results in court costs and takes much longer to settle.
A professional lawyer can help you write a demand letter. This is an organized letter that goes to the insurance company that outlines what you want in the form of a settlement and why.
A personal injury lawyer and the insurance adjuster are likely to talk through the demands with each other. When they do this, they each make points about the weaknesses and the strengths of the claim.
Your lawyer can assess the situation and has a good understanding of how much would be fair compensation in your case. This individual is able to help you decide to take the first offer or not. They also walk through the pros and cons of rejecting or accepting the offer.
Should You Take the First Offer?
When you file a claim, you want to get the compensation that you deserve based on the accident and the injuries you sustained. The best way to do this is not to take the first offer that the insurance company gives you.
You must keep in mind that the insurance company is looking out for their best interests. You are not at the top of your mind for the insurance company. They want to protect their assets and payout as little money as possible.
Most likely, you are going to have to negotiate with the insurance company to get the best deal. You may not be completely compensated by negotiating with the insurance company, but you may get closer to full compensation.
It is critical that you remember what you are trying to cover with the compensation. It is not just intended to cover your current medical bills but also money for your future.
You may have future medical bills, missed pay, repairs to your car, and any other losses that may occur as a result of the accident. In some cases, you may experience pain and injury for years after the accident happened.
While you may want to negotiate the settlement from the insurance company, it is crucial that you keep in mind that you should take their offer seriously so that you can consider all the factors of your settlement before you make a final decision.
This is not the time to discuss your settlement with friends and family. You want to experience and a professional to help you through this.
Why Shouldn’t You Take That Offer?
One of the top reasons why you should not take the first offer from an insurance company is because their sole goal is to pay the smallest amount of money possible.
This is how insurance companies stay in business to continue to stay in business to offer insurance to more individuals. While an insurance company may know exactly how much to pay you, they are probably not going to offer you that amount.
This also gives the insurance company room to negotiate with you. Most insurance companies know that you are going to negotiate, and they want the room to do so.
Therefore, you can bet that the first offer they give you is going to be the lowest possible number. You may be tempted to accept this offer because it can end a stressful situation. However, it may only give you some money quickly but not cover all of your needs.
Another reason why you should not take the first offer the insurance company gives you is, have you considered how long your injuries may last? Have you had all of your medical exams to determine how your injuries may impact you over the long term?
Some injuries have long lasting implications, which could also impact your ability to work or care for your home and family.
These are all factors that should be considered when you are determining how much you should receive:
What to Consider Before Accepting an Offer from the Insurance Company
When you are thinking about accepting an offer from an insurance company, you want to take some items into consideration. Likewise, any time you are offered a settlement, you should consider these items.
Is Your Medical Treatment Complete?
If you have not had medical treatment or completed your medical treatment, it is not the time to accept a settlement offer from an insurance company. You cannot be sure of the full extent of your damages or injuries until your doctor releases you from care.
This also means that you will not know the full extent of the potential losses you might incur or how severe or permanent the injuries may be. When you do not have an attorney, an insurance company will most likely be quick to provide you with a settlement offer.
They hope that you will take the offer before you find a way to determine how much your settlement should be. If you agree to the settlement, you cannot get any more money.
Is There A Chance You Could Be Partially Liable for the Accident?
When there is a chance that you may be in any way, even the smallest amount, liable for the accident and your injuries, you award may be reduced. It is possible for your settlement to be reduced by the percentage of which you are found liable.
Each state has its own laws about the compensation a victim can receive if the victim has in some way contributed to their own injuries.
An example of when you may be partially responsible for your injuries could be if you were hit by someone that ran a red light and hit you.
However, if you were texting while you were hit, you were distracted while you were driving and therefore partially responsible for the accident and the injuries you sustained.
If you were paying attention, you might have been able to avoid the car accident. If the insurance company can get the jury to agree with your percentage of fault, it impacts how much money you can receive.
You must be careful because if the jury verdict is that you are over 51 percent responsible, you will not receive a payment your claim. If the they decide you have a lower percentage of fault, then that percentage comes into play for your settlement.
For example, if the jury states you are 20 percent responsible for your injury, then you can lose 20 percent off your settlement.
It might look like this:
If you are awarded $100,000 but you are 20 percent responsible, that means you are only given $80,000. 20 percent of $100,000 is $20,000. Then $20,000 is subtracted from $100,000 to give you $80,000.
If there is a change that you might be partially responsible for, your lawyer will suggest that you do not go to court because it may not have a favorable outcome.
Will the Settlement Compensate for All Damages?
Insurance companies will attempt to reduce damages for your compensation so they can save money. For example, they may try to compensate for all medical bills and lost wages, but they may try to minimize the amount of pain and suffering you experience.
Insurance companies often use a calculation to determine a number for damages and pain.
Insurance companies do this because it is challenging and complicated to determine the value of damages that are non-economic. The insurance company also uses the lowest multiplier to reduce the claim’s value.
A personal injury lawyer has a better understanding of how to value the correct damages on a personal injury case. Attorneys review the offer of settlement to ensure you are getting the proper compensation for all of your damages.
This includes costs associated with medical treatment, medical care, in-home health care, personal care, and all out of pocket expenses. These expenses include costs for household help and travel.
Compensation also covers loss of benefits, wages, bonuses, commissions, and salary. It also includes future damages relating to your permanent injury. This may have decreased future earning potential and all future medical and personal care.
The payments cover pain and suffering; this includes emotional distress, mental pain, and physical pain. You can also receive payment for the quality of life that you may lose in the future.
Statute of Limitations Expiration Date
Each state has its own statute of limitations on when you can file a personal injury lawsuit. It would be best if you understood what the statute of limitations is for your state.
In addition, you want to understand if a government entity can impact the statute on your particular case. If minors are involved, it can also change the deadline for when you can file your claim. Often, when minors are involved, the deadline can be extended for a longer date.
If you know you are getting close to the statute expiring on your case, you should consider filing a settlement right away. You should also consider if you want to accept a settlement offer or if you want to move forward and proceed with a personal injury lawsuit.
You do not want to miss your deadline for filing a claim. In this case, you may need help with an accident settlement and want to contact a lawyer to help you file your claim before you miss your deadline.
Does it Need to Go to Court?
The reality is that more cases are settled outside than actually go to court. Insurance companies are fully aware that they are liable for claims when you are covered under their policy, and you are at fault for an accident or injury.
It does not matter if the accident is medical malpractice, a car accident, defective products, or a slip and fall accident.
Insurance companies analyze your claim to understand if it is more cost-effective to allow the case to go to court or settle the claim outside of court.
Most of the time, it will cost the insurance company less to settle claims outside of court than to pay for a trial which may lead to a higher award from the jury.
Just because they offer you a settlement, it does not mean that you should accept the offer. Many insurance companies offer early settlements. Early settlement offers are usually very low.
When you consult a lawyer, they can get you a higher settlement amount. Insurance companies prefer to settle the claim quickly and close it with the least amount of money spent.
The offer the insurance company makes to you is their best estimate of the lowest amount they can offer, but you do not have to accept it.
If you do not want to accept the offer, you will need to convince the insurance company that you have a good chance of winning your case if it goes to court.
This can be challenging to do if you do not have a lawyer. Personal injury lawyers have experience, and you will need that in court because insurance adjusters can be quite convincing.
How Can I Trust That My Lawyer Will Work for Me?
When you are looking for a personal injury lawyer to represent you to ensure that you get everything you deserve from your settlement.
Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law has a team of lawyers to help you through your settlement. They help you understand that you have been through a lot as a result of your accident.
They want to make the part that comes next easier for you. If you have an injury claim, they want to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve. They are here to work for you.
After you have been in a car accident and suffered injuries; as a result, they understand the statute of limitations and fight for you to ensure that you get everything you deserve.
However, the lawyers know that there are some things you need to understand about a settlement offer.
First, if you accept the offer, you are giving up your right to pursue any further claims that are related to your injury or accident.
Second, when you accept a settlement, you are releasing all parties, the ones you know and the ones you do not, from any liability to your claim.
Third, once you accept the settlement, you cannot demand any more money in the future, even if there are additional damages or injuries as a result of your accident.