December 18, 2018
Negotiating a Settlement After Your Car Accident
Getting into an accident can be stressful and overwhelming. Between the costs of medical care and repairing your car, it can also be incredibly expensive. Fortunately, you can demand compensation if someone else is at least partially responsible for your accident. If it’s clear that the other driver is to blame, you may even get a call from their insurance company just days after the crash.
The insurance adjuster who gives you a call will probably ask a series of questions. Be very careful when answering these questions. The adjuster is fishing for information that can be used to reduce the value of your claim. Simply answer basic questions and provide your contact information. Don’t provide details that could be twisted and used against you.
When the adjuster calls, they may even surprise you by saying that they’re prepared to settle your car accident claim today. They’ll offer a figure and hope that you’ll accept. Unless the settlement offer is incredibly generous, it’s best not to accept this first offer. While money in-hand today may be a relief, accepting the first offer could actually do more harm than good.
Here’s why it’s important to be patient when negotiating a settlement after your car accident.
Insurance Companies Want You to Be Impatient
Insurance companies handle thousands of accident claims every day. You probably don’t. This can give the insurer a huge advantage during negotiations. Adjusters know that you may be overwhelmed and struggling with a painful injury. There are dozens of manipulative tactics that can be used to take advantage of you during this difficult time.
Insurance companies may try to scare you into accepting an offer by telling you it’s your only shot at getting the money you need. They’re hoping that you’ll be eager to get a settlement and afraid of missing your chance.
What they won’t tell you is that you’re much more likely to get a fair settlement if you are patient and wait things out. They want you to be in a hurry to accept their offer so that they have to pay you as little as possible.
Only Time Will Reveal the Value of Your Claim
It’s hard, if not impossible, to determine the value your insurance claim in the hours and days after an accident. It may be simple to determine the extent of the damage to your car, but bodily injuries are another story.
Some injuries may not manifest immediately after your accident. Some may require extensive medical treatment for years to come. Others may limit your ability to move and work, which can have quite an impact on your earning capacity.
If you don’t know how much your claim is worth, it can be a gamble to accept an insurer’s early settlement offer. You risk accepting much less than you will really need to cover the costs of your injury.
Accepting an Early Offer Will Waive Your Right to Recover Additional Compensation
Insurance companies will require you to sign a release form when you formally accept a settlement offer. This form will waive your right to pursue additional compensation from the insurance company and the driver in the future. You essentially give up your right to go back and ask for more money if it turns out that the settlement isn’t enough to cover your costs.
Let’s say that you accept an offer for $10,000. You think that it’ll cover your medical bills and the cost of repairing your car. After you settle, you begin to experience symptoms of a spinal cord injury. It turns out that nerves in your spine were damaged in the accident and you now require invasive repair surgery. The surgery helps, but you do suffer a loss of mobility and strength in your hands.
As a result, your ability to work and bring in an income is compromised, all because of your accident and injury. It turns out that the value of your car accident claim exceeds $100,000. However, you’re prohibited from pursuing additional compensation because you signed a waiver when you accepted the early offer.
Injury Trial Lawyers, APC
1230 Columbia Street Suite 560
San Diego, CA 92101
While you can negotiate an insurance claim on your own, it’s always best to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will aggressively pursue compensation on your behalf and fight to protect your rights. Contact Injury Trial Lawyers for assistance with your car accident case today.