Whether you’re dealing with the results of a car wreck or an accident that resulted in an injury, it can be difficult to know when to accept a settlement. Insurance companies have entire departments dedicated to investigators, agents, and legal teams. They may try to deny your claim for a variety of unfair reasons that don’t reflect the reality of what happened. When major injuries or damages are involved, they may depend on your inexperience to try to avoid paying all the compensation you deserve.
So when should you accept a settlement? And how do you know if what you’ve been offered is fair?
Count the costs.
Compile all the bills you received as a result of the injury or accident. Consider whether you lost any wages because of the accident, because you had to seek medical treatment or be put on light duty at work for example, and add those costs as well. Projected lost wages and expected medical costs, for equipment or surgeries or medication, are also important to add to this total. You’ll likely have a good idea of this information already because many claims require you to submit this kind of information. Look over the offer carefully and compare the numbers.
If the offer doesn’t cover all your bills and lost wages, do not accept it.
You may feel disappointed or confused by what isn’t included in the offer, so be prepared to call or email your agent and ask questions. Bring up inconsistencies and cite your documentation. If they offer a certain amount to cover damages to your vehicle in your rollover accident, but you can’t buy the new vehicle you need for that amount, point that out. If the offer covers your medical bills and damage to your car but not the rental you’ve been using, tell the agent that you won’t accept an offer unless this important part of your damages is also covered.
Consider whether the offer is fair.
Fair settlements consider the past and future financial burdens that have been placed on you because of the incident. They also consider your physical and emotional pain and suffering as well as the overall negative effects on your enjoyment of life. If you loved to go fishing, but your wrist injury prevents you from casting a rod without pain, this loss that should be considered in the offer. If you won’t ever be able to work in your field again because of your injuries, this too must be reflected in the offer for it to be fair. It becomes more difficult to know how much your love for fishing or forced change in careers is worth monetarily. What might be priceless to you will have to be reflected by a monetary number, and how do you know what this number should be?
Research the details of your specific case and see what other people have received in compensation for the same type of injury or accident you suffered. The details of a unique case can make a lot of difference in what compensation is fair, but this will give you an idea of the range you should expect. The more severe the consequences of a person or company’s neglect, the higher the compensation offer should be. Some of our previous cases are listed here, along with their settlements and verdicts. Be sure to talk to close friends and family members about the offer and get an outside, though caring perspective.
If the offer doesn’t account for all your damages, suffering, and any loss of enjoyment of life, do not accept it. If it doesn’t feel fair in your gut, it probably isn’t.
However, if you’ve received an offer that covers all your damages and present and future financial costs, and which accounts for your non-monetary losses to your satisfaction, then it is a fair offer.
Many people find dealing with insurers so stressful that they are eager to accept the first offer the company makes, just to have the difficulties and stress behind them. Or their bills are piling up and they need immediate compensation to try to keep their heads above water. Before you ever reach that point, I hope you’ll do your research and, if you decide you need to, call an attorney like me for help. I’ll meet with you for free so you can get my experienced opinion about your unique case and what fair compensation would look like.
I’ve helped many people receive compensation after some truly terrible accidents, and I know how important this process is to the rest of your life. I’ll fight to secure the best possible future for you through a truly fair settlement. And if the insurance company won’t agree, we’ll take them to court to get you a fair verdict.