Having seen how personal injury cases play out, especially when it comes to victims who are not represented by an attorney, we can say, unequivocally, “NO!” Now, we realize it is not that easy to simply dismiss an offer, especially if it is a significant one, so we are going to take a hard look at exactly why, in most cases, that first offer should be considered and eventually turned down.
That First Offer
Insurance companies always want to settle, and they want to settle fast… and there is a very good reason for it. That reason is to protect their back account. If they can settle the case right out of the gate, you have less of an opportunity to run up expensive medical costs, figure out just how bad the injury really is, as well as ensuring they don’t have to pay their team of attorneys for racking up legal hours.
As such, the insurance provider is going to come up with an offer they believe will be attractive enough for you to shut it all down right now, then sign a waiver excusing them from any future liability. The problem we often see, however, is that the offer that is put on the table often falls very short of covering all the costs involved, such as past, present, and future lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, just to name a few. Knowing when to accept a settlement for an injury will have to be figured out with your attorney.
About Those Insurance Companies
Don’t mistake a kind voice for a kind person, because the person talking to you on behalf of the insurance company is probably nothing more than a snake-oil salesman, meaning he will do or say anything to get you to settle the case right away. Here are just a few things you need to realize about insurance companies:
- Trained Negotiators – in all likelihood, you will be contacted by a car insurance claim adjuster, which by the very nature of the job is someone that is trained to be an effective negotiator. The sole purpose of this person is to keep the payout as low as possible.
- Fairness – fair is a word that is not even in the insurance company operation manual. Think of how hard you have had to work to get a fair settlement check with your own insurance company when you had to make a claim… and you are paying them! If they are representing someone else, you better believe being “fair” is the last thing they are worried about.
- First Does NOT Equal Fair – as mentioned above, the first offer generally given is simply to get a feel for the case, not necessarily a fair offer, regardless of what they tell you. If it is very early in the case, you have no idea what the financial repercussions of the injury could possibly be, so it is unlikely that the initial offer will come anywhere close to what you need or deserve.
- Insurance Miranda Rules – if you get arrested, you are read your Miranda Rights, and insurance companies operate much the same way. In all likelihood, your conversations with them are being recorded, so don’t agree to THEIR version of the accident. In fact, don’t agree with anything they say until you talk to your attorney. Trust us, if you do agree to something, even though it may seem like a minor detail, it will get entered into the record and it WILL be used against you at a later time to their advantage. So, take the 5th, and talk to your car accident attorney about compensation.
- They Don’t Decide – be it a doctor or an auto body shop, the insurance company does not get to tell you what to do. If things get ugly, this is where an attorney comes into play to set them straight.
- Delays Are Inevitable – by turning down the first offer, insurance companies will often turn to the delay game to try to wait you out and force your hand. It’s a dirty tactic, but it is absolutely something they will use against you.
Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
In most cases, the answer to that question is going to be a resounding “YES,” even if you already have an offer on the table from an insurance company. If you have not examined this case from top to bottom, it is all but assured that you have not considered every possible cost that will be associated with the settlement offer. For instance, have you considered:
- Recovery/repair costs for your vehicle and/or property
- Medical costs
- Therapy costs, including medicine or any in-home care that may be needed
- Therapeutic equipment costs
- Lost wages (past, present, and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Compensation for loss of quality of life
- Emotional stress
If you have considered them, how have you calculated these costs, and can you be sure they are accurate? Have you gotten expert second opinions on the information you have regarding your treatment and recovery?
It is a lot of information to digest… we know, but that is exactly why we are here for you. If you were recently in an accident and/or recently received an offer from an insurance company to settle, let us review the offer free of charge to see if it is fair or not. You are under no obligation to use our services for discussing the case. Give us a call at 855-633-0888 to see if we can help. If you would like to learn more about our legal services before contacting us, click here.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and Injury law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any injuries from vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice.