A car accident can cause major disruption to your life. Not only do you want your injuries to heal, you just want things to get back to normal. Insurance companies know this, so they act quickly to make a settlement offer. While that dollar figure may be enticing, there are several reasons you should check with an attorney before accepting.
Don’t Settle for Less
Settlement offers tend to be way lower than they should be. Remember, insurance companies are businesses. Their goal is to minimize damage – dollar payouts – as fast as possible. So the sooner your case goes away, the easier it is for them. If you speak with an insurance adjuster, which you should never do before talking to a lawyer, that person may come across as sympathetic. But at the end of the day, you're a dollar figure to the insurance company.
In addition, many injuries worsen over time. Still others do not reveal themselves until months or even years later. Insurance companies aren't thinking about later, and they're counting on you not to, either. A proper settlement will account not only for current medical bills, but future ones. Having an experienced automobile accident attorney in your corner will help evaluate whether the offer is a fair one.
A good settlement will not only account for medical expenses. It will take into consideration pain and suffering, lost wages, decreased earning capacity, and numerous other things. If you're thinking about an offer, have you calculated all of these (and other) damages? An accident attorney can help evaluate your case and determine whether the offered amount is truly comprehensive.
Bear in mind, also, that settlement agreements tend to be complex works of legal writing put together by insurance company lawyers. They're not drafting these documents with your interests in mind. They have experience doing hundreds and thousands of these agreements, and they know which legal terms and clauses to use that will protect their bottom line. Once you accept a settlement offer and sign the agreement, there is no redo. You cannot renegotiate. And you certainly cannot take your case to court. There may also be restrictive terms such as non-disclosure agreements built in. With so much at risk, it just makes sense to have a lawyer review an offer before you sign.
The Bottom Line
A settlement offer can be a good thing. At the right amount, it can get you the payments you deserve without the time, stress, and delay of going through the court system. But don't be fooled into believing the insurance company and its lawyers are working for you. Have an experienced automobile accident attorney review the terms of settlement before you sign onto a costly mistake.