You don’t have to accept the first insurance settlement offer. Doing so could leave you with out-of-pocket expenses at the conclusion of your case. You should think twice about accepting any offer if you haven’t fully recovered from your condition, or you don’t know what constitutes a fair settlement offer. A Personal Injury Attorney in Augusta can assess your case, negotiate with the liable insurer, and advocate for what you deserve.
Reasons Why You Should Think Twice About Accepting the First Offer
While might feel tempted to accept the first settlement offer, patience offers many benefits. Insurance companies want to pay out as little money as possible. So, the liable insurer in your case may offer a low settlement and go from there.
Here are some things to know about the first settlement offer:
- It might not account for your long-term needs. Insurance companies rarely think about claimants’ anticipated care costs. They think about the damages the claimant wants now. As noted, if you accept an offer and incur additional costs, the insurer is no longer liable.
- The insurance adjuster doesn’t have your best interests in mind. Insurance adjusters work for insurance companies, not the injured party. Their goal is to protect their employer’s bottom line by offering low settlements.
- You might not know the value of your non-economic damages. Do you know how much you’re owed for pain and suffering? It’s okay if you don’t; most injured claimants don’t know what they deserve until they consult a lawyer. The insurance company hopes that you won’t account for pain and suffering in your demand letter, incentivizing it to offer a low settlement.
These detail a few reasons why you shouldn’t accept the first settlement offer. Hiring an attorney is a good way to understand your damages’ value and seek a fair settlement.
Other Things to Know Before Accepting an Insurance Settlement
It may feel tempting to accept the first Car settlement offer—especially if you’re dealing with serious injuries. Yet, this might not be to your advantage. Here’s what to know:
You Can Still Seek Compensation After Rejecting the First Settlement Offer
You can still request compensation even if you don’t accept the insurer’s first offer. Yet, the insurer may pressure you into accepting a lowball offer. It might even start employing bad faith insurance practices, hoping you’ll drop the matter altogether. In both of these situations, you might wonder: “What now?”
Reasons like these are why it’s so important to have legal counsel. Attorneys know the rules regarding personal injury laws and can share whether to accept an insurance company’s offer. With the help of an attorney, you could even make a counteroffer and negotiate.
An Attorney Can Negotiate a Higher Settlement
Before accepting a settlement from the insurance company, it is essential to understand how an attorney can help. Personal injury attorneys have a lot of experience negotiating with insurance companies and know the tricks they use to take advantage of injured people.
Personal injury attorneys can negotiate with the insurance company or opposing counsel on their client’s behalf. Your attorney can use documentation to prove why you deserve the amount you’re requesting. They can also file a lawsuit against the at-fault party if the insurer refuses to resolve your case.
Your Injuries Could Worsen
After suffering an injury, you might initially think that it’s minor. Yet, unless you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, there’s always the chance that you could incur additional healthcare costs. If you settle with the insurer, and your condition worsens, it wouldn’t have to pay you anything else. You would be solely responsible for the cost of hospitalization, surgeries, and other necessary procedures.
You should only accept a settlement offer if:
- You’ve received the “all clear” from your healthcare team.
- You understand what dollar amount covers your damages.
- Your lawyer advises you to do so.
You Have Options Outside of Filing an Insurance Claim
If the insurance company refuses to settle your claim fairly, don’t worry; you still have options. For instance, instead of endlessly negotiating with the insurer, you could file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. This could allow you to seek damages beyond what’s covered in an insurance claim.
For help with a personal injury lawsuit, consider reaching out to a lawyer in your area. They can file your case, itemize your losses, and fight for a fair resolution.
Your Settlement Should Account for Each of Your Injury-Related Expenses
Your settlement should comprise your:
Economic Damages (Your Direct Monetary Losses)
Monetary losses, also known as economic damages, compensate the injured party for the money they lost because of their injury. Your lawyer can calculate these expenses by adding up your receipts, invoices, and bills.
Economic damages in a personal injury case may include:
- Medical expenses: Recoverable medical expenses in your case could include doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, diagnostic tests, and medications. Your attorney can consult experts to learn about your healthcare costs.
- Household services: If you can’t complete daily tasks on your own, such as cleaning, doing laundry, or performing other household chores, you could include the cost of hiring extra help in your case.
- Rehabilitative therapy: If you require physical or occupational therapy to increase your mobility, you could seek compensation for these rehabilitative programs.
- In-home nursing: In the aftermath of your accident, you could require around-the-clock care. Just like with household services, the cost of in-home nursing is compensable.
- Lost income: If you missed work while recovering from your injuries, you could recover the tips, bonuses, benefits, and commissions you lost during that time.
- Lost earning capacity: If you can no longer work in the same capacity as you did before the accident, you could recover the difference in your income.
- Wrongful death-related expenses. You may have lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence. If so, you may want compensation for their funeral, burial, and other related costs. Through an insurance claim, that’s possible.
This isn’t a complete list of compensable financial losses. Depending on your situation, you could recover other losses than those listed here.
Non-Economic Damages (Your Losses That Don’t Have Inherent Dollar Values)
Non-economic damages aren’t associated with inherent dollar values.
They’re more subjective, and examples include:
- Emotional distress: You could recover compensation for emotional distress if you suffered anxiety, fear, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Physical pain and suffering: Pain and suffering compensate you for the hardships associated with your accident and injuries. Many states do not limit how much you can request for this expense.
- Loss of consortium: You could recover this damage if your injuries negatively affected your spousal relationship.
Your lawyer can determine your non-economic damages’ cost by assessing your overall situation. If an insurance settlement doesn’t account for these losses, you shouldn’t accept it. You deserve reimbursement for each way the accident and your injuries have affected your life.
Can I Recover Punitive Damages Through an Insurance Settlement?
Punitive damages intended to punish the negligent party for their actions. Yet, the court system would award these damages—not an insurance company. So, the short answer is no; you can’t recover punitive damages through an insurance settlement.
If your lawyer files a lawsuit, they can advise you on whether you could seek punitive damages. They can also share other information relevant to your situation, including whether a settlement offer meets your needs.
You Have a Limited Time to File an Insurance Claim or a Lawsuit
When seeking compensation, you must adhere to various deadlines—some of which aren’t immediately clear. For instance, the deadline for filing a claim depends on the liable insurance company, not the state. Here, you could have anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to notify the insurer of your accident and injuries.
Matters change if you want to seek damages through a personal injury lawsuit. In that instance, how long you have to file your case depends on where you live. For instance, in Georgia, you generally have two years to file your case. However, once those two years conclude, you can’t pursue litigation.
There are other reasons to consider prompt legal action in the aftermath of an injury. In addition to these deadlines, the evidence doesn’t last forever. The absence of certain information could make your case less compelling. This is yet another reason to consider entrusting your case to an injury lawyer. They can gather the evidence needed to support your case.
What Considerations Could Help Me Achieve a Fair Settlement Offer?
The following measures could compel the liable insurer to offer a fair settlement:
Promptly Notify Your Insurer
Even if you didn’t cause your accident and injuries, you should notify your insurance provider anyway. For instance, in the aftermath of a collision, you should notify your insurance carrier. This could provide an avenue for seeking damages if a third-party claim doesn’t work out. Also, it prevents the liable insurer from contesting your case’s validity.
Seek Prompt Medical Attention
You prove that you suffered injuries to have a valid personal injury claim. This requires proving that you visited a medical doctor and sought treatment. Not only does this help you heal and move forward, but it also generates supporting evidence. Your lawyer can use your medical records, your treatment plan, and other related information to bolster your claim or lawsuit.
Refuse to Give a Recorded Statement
While preparing their first settlement offer, the claims adjuster may ask you to give a recorded statement. Here’s a pro tip: don’t give one. Giving a recorded statement only gives the claims adjuster more information to discredit your case. The insurer only needs basic information to process your claim. Asking for anything beyond basic information could mean it’s not willing to negotiate in good faith.
Limiting What You Share Online
As noted, the claims adjuster may look for any reason to discredit your case. They may even peruse your public social media accounts, looking for conflicting information. During your case’s progression, be extremely mindful of what you share online. In fact, consider not sharing anything at all. You don’t want to give the insurer any reason to discredit your claim.
Keep All Information Related to Your Damages
Your lawyer needs documentation to determine your financial losses. This documentation could include receipts, invoices, estimates, and bills. Even a ticket stub for parking in a hospital’s parking garage could be helpful. Keeping all damage-related information could bolster your case’s value.
Refer All Insurance-Related Communications to Your Lawyer
The claims adjuster knows you’re in a vulnerable position, and they may hope to take advantage of that. They hope that you’ll panic, admit something you shouldn’t, or otherwise jeopardize your claim. You don’t have to worry about these things when you work with an attorney. They can field all phone calls, emails, and text messages from the involved parties.
An Attorney Can Explain Whether to Accept an Insurance Settlement
If you received an offer from the liable insurance company, an attorney can explain whether to accept it. They can also negotiate with the liable party, gather supporting evidence, and explain your options. What’s more, many personal injury lawyers in Georgia offer help on a contingency-fee-basis. This means, in addition to not paying anything upfront, they finance your case’s obligations, from its administrative fees to its courtroom costs.
Many time-sensitive parts of a personal injury case warrant prompt attention. For more information on partnering with a lawyer, you could start a free case review.