After a car accident, slip and fall injury, or another personal injury, your top priority should be to seek medical treatment. Once your injuries are stabilized, the next step is to seek compensation for your injuries and damages. Accident victims may be entitled to substantial compensation from the party or parties responsible for their accident and losses.
Most personal injury claims are settled outside of court. If the at-fault party had insurance coverage for the incident, the insurance provider will negotiate a settlement with the victim.
If another party caused your injury, that party’s insurance company might issue you a settlement offer. Before you agree to the initial settlement offer, there are five things that you need to know about insurance company settlement offers.
Five Reasons to Decline an Initial Offer of Settlement by an Insurance Company
Five reasons to decline the first settlement offer for your personal injury claim are:
1. Initial Offers Are Generally Much Lower Than the Value of Your Claim
Insurance companies are for-profit companies, meaning they are in business to earn a profit. Paying large settlement claims is not in the company’s best interest. Therefore, initial offers are typically much lower than the value of your claim.
Many insurance companies use computer software to generate the value of a personal injury claim. The software may not consider the special circumstances of your case that could increase the value of your claim. You deserve fair compensation based on the facts and circumstances of your case.
2. You Have Not Completed Your Medical Treatment
Settling your injury claim before completing medical treatment is not in your best interest. You could be entitled to a lot more money because your injuries could be worse than you realize. You could suffer from complications and secondary injuries, or you could develop a permanent impairment or disability.
You can’t know how extensive your medical bills are until your doctors release you from treatment. You may also incur additional lost wages if you need physical therapy or further medical treatment. If you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company before completing treatment, you will be responsible for the cost of future care, lost income, and other damages.
3. The Offer Does Not Include Future Damages
If an accident or injury results in a disability or impairment, you deserve compensation for future damages.
Future damages may include:
- Ongoing medical care and personal care
- Future lost income and decreased earning potential
- Ongoing emotional, physical, and mental pain and suffering
- Psychological conditions, including depression and anxiety
The initial offer from the insurance company may not include compensation for future damages, especially if you have not completed your medical treatment. If you have not consulted with medical experts and financial experts, you may not realize the insurance company is undervaluing your future damages.
4. The Offer Does Not Include Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages or non-economic damages can make up a significant portion of your personal injury settlement.
Pain and suffering damages include:
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical discomfort
- Disabilities and impairments
- Mental trauma and anguish
- Emotional distress
- PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders
- Embarrassment, frustration, and loss of enjoyment of life
- Decreased quality of life
The value of your non-economic damages is difficult to calculate. Most insurance companies undervalue pain and suffering damages because there no standard calculation for determining their value. Also, many people may not be aware that they are entitled to compensation for these damages.
You may need a medical, financial, or life care expert to help prove the value of your non-economic damages.
5. You Have Not Consulted with a Personal Injury Lawyer
An insurance company will take advantage of someone who does not have legal counsel. The company is not going to tell you that it is paying less than your claim is worth.
The insurance company may not adequately explain that you give up your right to sue any of the parties responsible for your injury once you sign the settlement agreement. In other words, you cannot demand more money for your claim, even if you realize your claim is worth more money or you need additional medical treatment.
A personal injury lawyer reviews your case to determine if the initial settlement offer from the insurance provider is fair. An attorney can help you avoid mistakes that could lead to a lower settlement amount for your injury claim.
Bottom Line – Seek Legal Advice Before You Accept a Settlement Offer
The insurance company would prefer to deal directly with you instead of a lawyer. An accident attorney protects the best interest of the accident victim, not the insurance company. Make sure you seek legal advice before accepting a settlement offer to prevent the insurance company from cheating you out of the money you deserve.