If you’ve experienced a personal injury and file a claim against the negligent party, sometimes you will receive a settlement offer before your case heads to trial. In some instances, such as when you are a victim in a car accident or are injured at work, you might receive a settlement offer from an insurance company that represents the individual or business involved in the cause of the accident. Sometimes the settlement is something you consider is fair and sufficient for your pain and suffering. Other times, it’s low or nothing at all.
Working with an attorney and possibly taking your case to trial does take some time and effort, but when you receive a settlement offer that is too low, it could be worth rejecting the settlement. The question is, how do you know whether or not to accept a settlement that is offered?
The details of your case can give you insight into how much it’s worth. Try searching for similar lawsuits in your area and nationally to see what types of outcomes have occurred with similar cases. The following factors could mean that you’re entitled to a generous settlement:
- Your medical bills are substantial
- You’ve missed a significant amount of time off work
- Liability clearly falls on another party, not you
- You have evidence to prove your case
When you receive a settlement offer from an insurance company, examine the details of your policy to see what exactly you are entitled to. You should also take into account details like how much it has cost you to drive to doctors, how much you’ve spent in prescriptions, and how much you’ve lost from missing time off work. Future costs should also play a factor into what you’re entitled to.
Before you receive a settlement offer, what you communicate to an insurance company can affect your offer. Have you said something that could have possibly hurt your case? For example, if you’re on the phone with an insurance claims adjuster, and they ask if you had previous back pain before you were injured and you say yes, that information may cause them to justify offering you a low settlement. Because insurance companies record conversations with plaintiffs, you may have accidentally stated something that makes the company feel justified in offering you a low claim.
Usually, the first offer you receive will be low, because the other party anticipates you might want to counter or negotiate a higher offer. Giving an offer toward the high or middle range would not make sense for the other party, because they want to have room to increase their offer if needed. You can ask the claims adjuster what factors were taken into consideration when your settlement offer was put together, and then determine if anything was missed.
Take into Account the Other Party’s Actions
If the insurance company has delayed your claim before making a settlement, the reason may be that the company knows you have a legitimate claim, and holding on to your money has enabled the company to profit from it in the meantime. Delaying payment is similarly harmful to denying payment altogether. You don’t get the money you deserve when you deserve it. You may be entitled to more than what the insurance company is actually willing to pay you after they’ve delayed your claim.
On the other hand, if you receive a settlement extremely quickly, that could also be a sign that you are getting less than you deserve. Sometimes, insurance companies will settle quickly in hopes that you’ll accept the small claim to be done with the matter. Going to court can cost the insurance company or offending party in time and legal fees, so settling quickly or delaying settling at all are two tactics to be wary of.
Talk with a Personal Injury Lawyer If You’re Unsure
Knowing whether or not to accept a settlement offer can be a difficult decision, but the good news is that many personal injury lawyers will offer a free consultation before you decide. A Birmingham personal injury attorney like the Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann team will evaluate your case and only take it on if the team believes a higher compensation amount can be achieved.
Having attorney representation can help in any case. For some insurance companies or defendants, knowing that the plaintiff is represented by a strong attorney team can be enough to influence them to settle with you for a higher amount of money. Before saying “yes” to the first offer you receive, consult with an attorney so you can maximize your compensation.