When you are injured in a car accident, slip and fall, dog attack, or any other incident that leaves you in pain and facing financial distress, you want to receive an insurance settlement as quickly as possible. So, when a settlement offer comes, almost any amount can seem too good to be true.
But, before you accept, there are several factors that you need to carefully consider. Keep reading to learn what to expect from a personal injury settlement offer, how to evaluate a settlement offer, and when you should think about accepting:
1. There Is a Reason the Insurance Company Is Offering to Settle Your Claim
If an insurance company is offering a settlement, there is a reason why – and it is not because the insurance company is “on your side.” The insurance companies only settle when it is in their best interest to do so.
It is important to keep this in mind as you evaluate your settlement offer. If it is the insurance company’s first offer, then there is almost certainly more on the table. On the other hand, if you hire a personal injury lawyer and he or she has presented evidence and negotiated on your behalf, then the insurance company may have decided that it is better to settle than to incur the additional costs of going to trial.
2. The Settlement Offer Should Provide Compensation for All Covered Losses
Depending on the specific circumstances involved in your insurance claim, you may be entitled to various different forms of financial compensation. Before you accept a settlement, you need to make sure that the insurance company’s offer includes compensation for all of your covered losses.
For example, if you have a personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) claim following a car accident, then you are entitled to compensation for certain financial losses only. However, if you have a bodily injury liability (BIL) claim under the other driver’s policy, then you may be entitled to compensation for all of your economic and non-economic losses. This means that you could be entitled to far more, and you should not accept a settlement that only covers your out-of-pocket costs.
Likewise, if you are seeking compensation for a dog bite, the amount you can recover depends, in part, on whether the dog’s owner knew that it had a dangerous tendency. If your lawyer can present evidence demonstrating that the owner was aware of the danger presented by the dog, then you may be able to seek compensation above and beyond what is available in other cases.
3. The Settlement Offer Should Cover Your Current and Future Losses
When evaluating a personal injury settlement offer, you also need to determine whether the offer adequately covers your current and future losses. Unless you have hired a lawyer to negotiate for you, it almost certainly does not.
If you suffered serious injuries, your future losses could make up the largest portion of your insurance claim. You should not accept a settlement that only covers your losses to date.
4. Once You Settle, Your Insurance Claim Is Over
Once you accept an insurance settlement, this is the end of your personal injury claim. Even if you subsequently discover that your losses were greater than you first thought, you will not be able to go back to the insurance company and ask for more.
The insurance companies will often try to use this to their advantage. They know that many injury victims need money quickly, and they will try to get these victims to settle for a fraction of what they are owed.
With this in mind, you need to review your settlement offer with a critical eye. You also need to make sure that you do not give up your rights until you are certain that your settlement truly reflects just compensation.
5. It Can Take Time to Secure a Fair Settlement Offer
Finally, negotiating a fair settlement offer usually takes time. Attorneys may undertake multiple rounds of negotiation on behalf of injured clients to reach an agreement.
An experienced lawyer will recognize the financial challenges that may arise while you wait for a fair settlement. It is important not to lose heart during this process. A settlement that fairly compensates you for all of your losses is worth the wait.
Discuss Your Personal Injury Claim Today
Many injury victims believe they can represent themselves effectively in negotiations with the insurance company. In reality, however, it is important to work with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney with extensive experience and a history of results handling claims like yours.
The lawyers at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC have over 150 years of combined experience representing clients in personal injury cases. We are committed to helping clients and their families pursue the compensation and peace of mind they deserve after a serious injury.
Please call (845) 303-8777 today for a free case review. The personal injury lawyers at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC serve clients throughout the Hudson Valley region from offices in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh.