For those who have the unfortunate experience of being injured due to someone else’s negligence, it’s tempting to accept the first offer made by the other party’s insurance company. However, there are plenty of good reasons to wait, think it over, and even consult legal counsel before accepting.
- Insurance companies will try to lowball your offer
Accepting the settlement immediately offered by an insurance company isn’t a wise decision. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations and always try to settle for the minimum they think you’ll accept. If you accept too soon, you won’t know if the settlement will cover your medical expenses.
If your accident was serious, there’s a greater chance that your injuries (and related expenses) will compound over time. Lawyers in Kentucky point out the consequences of not waiting: “If you accept a quick settlement from an insurer, and then you have additional medical expenses, you will not be able to go back to the insurer to ask for more money.”
By accepting the first offer, that’s it. You can’t negotiate with the insurance company and you’re not entitled to file a lawsuit later.
By waiting longer, you can focus on your recovery and find out if you’re going to need long-term care or rehabilitation. Waiting gives you a better idea of how your injuries will affect your ability to work as well.
- You might get more compensation with a lawsuit
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get as much compensation as possible. Not everyone who files a lawsuit for a personal injury claim is greedy; that’s just one of several popular myths. On the contrary, people who file lawsuits for personal injury claims are often seriously injured and have medical expenses that far exceed the insurance payout.
Most personal injury lawyers will work on a contingency, which means they don’t get paid until you get paid. These lawyers only take on cases that stand a strong chance of winning. Yes, the contingency fee will come out of your settlement amount, but it’s worth it. You don’t want to navigate the court system alone with no experience.
- You can negotiate with the insurance provider
If your injuries aren’t severe and you determine that filing a lawsuit isn’t the route you want to take, you should still wait before accepting the settlement offer. Offers are just that – offers. There’s nothing stopping you from trying to negotiate the amount you’re being offered.
Be warned, though. Insurance adjusters are trained to be fierce negotiators, and you may end up meeting your match. If you have a friend who has experience negotiating financial settlements, ask them for help. Everyone has that one friend who managed to negotiate an unheard-of discount on their phone or cable bill. Or the friend who got their bank to remove multiple overdraft fees. If you have friends like that, those are the people you want advice from.
Before attempting to negotiate, however, it will be helpful to understand how adjusters operate. The adjuster is going to investigate the case just like an attorney before making an offer. They’ll read all reports, statements, and may even interview witnesses first hand. They’ve also been known to research the plaintiff on the internet to dig up some dirt.
- Adjusters often discount alternative therapies when valuing a case
As part of investigating the case, insurance adjusters will ask for medical records, medical bills, proof of income, tax returns, and proof of any property damage that accompanied the injuries.
If the adjuster determines the plaintiff’s claim is valid, they’ll put a value on the case by figuring the plaintiff’s chances of winning at trial, and how much a jury might award them.
If you’ve got prior medical issues dealing with the same body parts injured in the crash, expect your case to be scrutinized, and be ready to provide documentation for past treatment. This will be factored into the settlement you’re offered, so be ready.
Adjusters also drastically reduce the amount of a settlement offer when the majority of medical bills fall outside of standard physicians and hospitals. For example, if the injured party has $10,000 in medical bills and $9,000 were for chiropractic and acupuncture, they’re likely to cut the medical bill claim in half while valuing the case. This isn’t fair, but it’s something you need to be aware of before accepting or negotiating an offer.
Author: Oliver Curtis
Hi there. I’m Oliver. I’m just a young boy from the outskirts of… Okay, that’s a lie, I’m not a young boy anymore, although I certainly feel that way at heart.