Whether caused by a car crash, slip and fall, or another type of accident, an unexpected injury can leave you in a tough financial spot. Fortunately, the responsible party can be held responsible.
Most of the time, the person or company at fault has insurance that covers the cost of reimbursing accident victims. If you are hurt in an accident, the insurance company will be notified and will assess their insured’s liability–and what they may have to pay.
If you were injured recently, you should probably expect a call or a letter from an insurance company offering you a cash settlement. But, there’s a good chance the amount is less than what you deserve.
You Don’t Have to Accept the First Offer
No matter what the insurance company says, keep in mind that you don’t have to accept their first offer of settlement. In most cases, you shouldn’t.
Insurance companies are businesses, and they’re built to make money. That means paying as little as possible. So, why would they make their most generous offer right at the outset?
The first offer from the insurance company is just a starting point and can usually be negotiated up. To determine what your claim is really worth and what the insurance company may be willing to pay, you must analyze all the details of your case. A personal injury attorney can help with that.
Wait Until You Know the Extent of Your Damages
In a personal injury case, you may be able to recover money for all your medical bills related to the accident, as well as lost wages and reduced earning capacity. Often the extent of these damages is not known right away. Certain injuries require ongoing treatment, and the effects on your personal and employment life may not be clear until much later.
Therefore, it is a wise idea to wait until the smoke clears and the full extent of your damages is known before accepting an offer from the insurance company. This way you know you are being compensated fairly for all of the effects of the accident.
Know What Your Settlement is Worth
When evaluating a settlement offer from an insurance company, it is important to be able to compare it to what your claim may actually be worth.
This means being able to add up all of the clear cut expenses you incurred, medical bills and lost wages, for example. It also means understanding the value of noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of companionship.
If a case goes all the way to trial, a jury will likely decide how much the victim should be compensated for these noneconomic damages. It is never easy to predict an exact amount, but an experienced attorney can better estimate the value based on the specific circumstances of your case.
Take All Facts into Account
Estimating the fair value of a personal injury claim is not just about quantifying damages. You must also understand how all the facts affect your case.
For example, if evidence from the accident makes it difficult to determine who was really at fault, the value of your claim may go down. Or, if there is evidence suggesting that you were at least partially to blame for your own injuries, you should expect a lower settlement amount.
In some situations, liability is obvious, while in others the facts are much more complex. Only an experienced attorney can tell you whether the settlement you’ve been offered is fair. Having a personal injury lawyer analyzing your case will go a long way towards helping you decide whether to accept or reject that settlement offer.
Don’t Wait Too Long
Although it is important to evaluate your options carefully, you must remember that there is a statute of limitations–that is, a time limit to file a lawsuit. For most accident cases this limit is two years. If you haven’t settled or filed suit within this period, you will forfeit your claim permanently.
If you sense the insurance company is trying to drag out settlement discussions to delay your case, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney and ensure you do not miss the deadline to file.
Doehrman Buba – Indiana Personal Injury Lawyers
If you receive a settlement offer from an insurance company that you believe is less than fair, the best thing you can do is get an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.
The legal team at Doehrman Buba has years of experience representing personal injury victims in Indiana. We’ve seen countless lowball offers from insurance companies and would be happy to help you respond to yours. Just give us a call or contact us online to set up a free consultation.