When the costs of an accident start to crop up, it can be difficult to make ends meet. Between lost wages, hospital bills, vehicle damage, and other expenses, families get desperate for cash. Unfortunately, this scenario is exactly what insurance companies count on. Learn what you should do before accepting a settlement offer from your insurance company and when the right time is to sign on the dotted line.
Never Accept the First Offer
The first settlement offer from your insurance company is almost assuredly lower than it should be, by a lot. Insurance companies count on accident victims needing money quickly to pay bills, so they give a lowball offer to keep the cost of the claim as low as possible.
Many people take this first offer because they need the money right away, without thinking ahead to future accident costs and whether the money is really enough to cover all of the expenses that are or will be related to the accident. This is particularly true if you have yet to finish treatment and don’t know yet what the outcome will be.
Make a Counteroffer After Talking with Your Attorney
Once your insurance company makes a settlement offer, you should take it to your attorney and discuss how much your claim is really worth. Your personal injury lawyer has the tools available to calculate costs that you’ve already incurred as well as estimate future expenses. Your attorney will also add in pain and suffering and other non-economic damages that perhaps don’t have a clear figure.
You can then present the counteroffer to your insurance company, along with a detailed breakdown of why your case is worth exactly that much. If your insurance company agrees, you and your attorney can settle the matter out of court. If your insurance company disagrees, they may send a counteroffer of their own — which may be higher or lower than their initial offer. If it’s lower, don’t be alarmed. This is a tactic used widely in insurance to make victims believe if they don’t accept soon, the amount will keep getting lower.
When Litigation is Necessary
If you and your insurance company cannot reach a settlement that provides you with the compensation you deserve for your case, you’ll enter into litigation and a judge will decide how much to award. There’s a bit of a risk, because your case could be dismissed entirely, or the judge could award you much more than your initial counteroffer.
Get help advocating for your right to fair compensation after an accident by calling the Law Offices of Zink and Lenzi at 530-895-1234.