After an injury or car accident, the insurance company for the other party may make a settlement offer. However, quick settlements from insurance companies are usually for amounts below the value of personal injury cases.
Accident victims who accept insurance settlement offers without consulting a Los Angeles personal injury attorney could receive much less compensation for their damages. You can protect yourself by referring an insurance company to your injury lawyer to handle settlement offers.
An Insurance Settlement May Be Lower Than the Value of Your Claim
After an injury or accident, a victim may struggle to pay medical bills and other expenses while they are out of work recovering from injuries. Claims adjusters understand the financial strain caused by accidents. Therefore, they are ready to offer an amount to settle the claim.
Unfortunately, the amount offered may not be fair. Remember, you are not required to accept the offer by an insurance company to resolve your injury claim. You have the right to legal counsel, and you should exercise this right.
Talking with a lawyer before you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company is not just a good idea. Seeking legal advice protects your best interests.
What Should I Do About an Insurance Settlement Offer?
In most cases, the insurance company’s offer is low. It wants to pay as little for your personal injury claim as possible. Before you accept a settlement check and sign a final settlement agreement, make sure you know what the settlement means.
When you sign a settlement agreement, you give up the right to sue anyone for more money. In other words, the amount you receive from the insurance company is the only money you will recover for your claim.
Suppose you realize that you have a permanent disability or you have more damages after you sign a settlement agreement. You gave up your right to pursue a claim when you settled with the insurance company. Therefore, you cannot file a lawsuit or pursue a legal claim.
Instead of accepting the insurance settlement offer, decline the offer and talk with a lawyer. The lawyer may advise you to accept the settlement offer if:
- The insurance company accepted total liability for your injury claim
- You recovered fully from all injuries
- The settlement offer compensates you for all damages
- You are not entitled to future damages
- The amount offered is the best offer you are likely to receive based on the facts of your case
- You did not sustain any permanent impairments that are not included in the settlement offer
Insurance companies often use computer programs to evaluate claims. The programs calculate the value of an injury claim based on specific data entered into the program. However, these programs do not consider other factors that could impact how much a personal injury claim is worth.
Hiring a lawyer to prepare a demand letter for your injury claim means you have someone who understands personal injury laws. Furthermore, the attorney understands the value of damages. In other words, you have someone with experience handling the negotiation process with the insurance company on your behalf.
Insurance companies typically deal fairly with personal injury attorneys. The companies know which attorneys do not hesitate to file a lawsuit and take the matter to court if the insurance company does not negotiate in good faith. In some cases, an attorney may even pursue a bad faith claim against an insurance company.
Do You Know How Much Your Personal Injury Claim Is Worth?
It is not wise to accept a personal injury settlement from an insurance company if you do not know the value of your damages.
Many people are familiar with economic damages. These damages represent the financial losses you incur because of an accident or injury. They include:
Some injured parties may not realize they can recover reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses. They may not realize they can receive compensation for ongoing medical treatments, long-term nursing care, and future lost wages.
You may also be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. Insurance companies downplay non-economic damages. If you do not know you are entitled to these damages, the company may not include the damages in the settlement offer.
Non-economic damages include:
- Decrease in your quality of life
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental, physical, and emotional suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
Placing a value on pain and suffering can be challenging. The value of financial damages equals the actual monetary loss. However, there is not an “invoice” or “bill” to prove how much your pain and suffering are worth.
Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with how to calculate these damages, the insurance company could undervalue your injury claim.
Do not trust what the insurance adjuster tells you what the damages are worth. Remember, the claims adjuster works for the insurance company, so the value the adjuster places on the claim is in the insurance company’s favor.
If you do not know how much your damages are worth, talk with a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer.
Do Not Let the Insurance Company Drag Out Your Claim
The California statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. For most injury claims, the filing deadline is two years from the injury date. However, there are exceptions.
Medical malpractice claims have a one-year deadline from the date you knew or should have known about the injury or three years from the injury date, whichever date comes first. There could be other exceptions depending on the facts of your case.
An insurance company might try to drag out your claim past the filing deadline. It knows if you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit, you give up your right to pursue a legal claim.
The statute of limitations is another reason you should not delay seeking legal advice about a personal injury claim.
Call Us to Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers
Before accepting a settlement offer from the insurance company, meet with our lawyers for a free case evaluation.
Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers evaluate your claim and assess the settlement offer during a free consultation. Sound legal advice can help prevent you from accepting a settlement offer that is much lower than your personal injury claim is worth. Give us a call at (877) 300-4535 today to get started with your case.