Should I Take the First Offer of a Car Accident Settlement?

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You might need time to get your bearings, assess your injuries, and recoup after a car accident unexpectedly disrupts your life. However, before the dust even begins to settle, you might receive an unexpected communication from an insurance company offering you a settlement. They’ll send you a quick check, and you can move on with your life – or so they claim.

You just received medical treatment and expect bills in the mail. Your car needs repairs. A settlement check might make everything easier.

However, you need a lawyer to explain everything that goes into car accident settlements and the potential long-term consequences of accepting the first offer. Too often, accepting a quick offer can have lasting financial consequences that you cannot undo.

Instead of accepting the first offer, you should politely inform the insurance company that you will discuss the settlement offer with your lawyer. Then, get your free consultation with a car accident attorney near you.

What is a Car Accident Settlement?

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A car accident settlement refers to the money you receive from a party that caused your crash. In the United States, personal injury law generally holds at-fault parties responsible for covering the costs and losses of injuries they cause.
This means if someone else caused a car crash and you suffered injuries, the at-fault driver should compensate you for your losses, usually through their auto insurance coverage.

When you file a claim with the driver’s insurance company, the insurer will assess your losses and offer you a settlement. This is a one-time payment to compensate you, as benefits are not ongoing.

Therefore, you have one chance to accept the right settlement offer, and a car accident lawyer should always review any offers you receive.

Therefore, you have one chance to accept the right settlement offer, and a car accident lawyer should always review any offers you receive.

How Car Accident Settlements Work

A car accident settlement resolves your accident-related claim. Taking the first offer of a car accident settlement may seem appealing in the short term, as it gets the matter over quickly without an extended legal process. However, accepting a quick settlement can have serious long-term consequences.

When you accept a settlement, you must sign an agreement to receive the insurance check. This agreement will have a provision waiving your right to seek further compensation regarding this particular accident and injury.

Once you accept the settlement, these are the total funds you can receive for the accident, regardless of your true accident-related losses. You will not have the opportunity to request more funds in the future, outside exceptional circumstances.

Risks of Accepting the First Offer

Too many people jump at the chance of a first settlement offer, not knowing how much they need or deserve. They sign the agreement, cash the check, and later realize their bills and expenses are much more than they anticipated. Unfortunately, they have few options if they already received a settlement.

By accepting an offer without fully understanding the true value of your case, you can underestimate your future medical needs or ongoing pain and suffering.

Accepting an immediate settlement can leave you financially vulnerable, especially if your injuries require ongoing medical treatments or result in long-term disability.

You have little to no options to go back and request additional funds, even if you realize your losses are far greater than the settlement you quickly accepted. Because of these great risks, never accept a first – or any – offer without legal advice from a car accident attorney.

Insurance Companies Purposefully Offer Low Settlements

Insurance companies know that injured accident victims like you are tempted by quick settlements. They know you might not realize your true losses – or even a fraction of them. They make initial low offers before you have legal representation, hoping you will accept and sign away your rights to seek additional compensation.

Working with an experienced car accident attorney gives you a comprehensive perspective of your case’s long-term implications. A lawyer will not accept less than you deserve.

Understanding the Value of Your Case

Many factors go into determining car accident settlements and the overall amount you should receive.

These factors include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost income and any lost future earning ability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent effects of your injuries

Determining the value of your car accident case requires thoroughly examining these factors, evidence, expert opinions, and applicable laws.

While the insurance adjuster may present the initial offer as fair, they have their own interests in mind. They may not account for future medical treatments or the long-term effects of your injuries. They may grossly undervalue non-economic losses like pain and suffering.

By consulting a car accident attorney, you can better understand the full value of your case so you do not accept less than the compensation you deserve.

Your Car Accident Attorney Can Negotiate

Negotiation is a typical aspect of most car accident claims.

A low offer opens the door for negotiations. Accepting the first offer effectively eliminates the opportunity to negotiate for a higher settlement amount.

Experienced car accident attorneys understand the negotiation process and have the skills to advocate for full compensation. They can evaluate each offer, assess its fairness, and negotiate with the insurance company to secure a more favorable outcome. When negotiating a settlement, having an attorney handling everything can make a significant difference.

Consult a Car Accident Lawyer Before Speaking With Insurance Companies

James M. Harrington, Truck Accident Lawyer
James Harrington, Truck Accident Attorney

Not only should you seek legal advice regarding settlement offers, but you should allow a car accident attorney to handle all communications with insurance companies. By speaking with adjusters or other insurance representatives, you risk saying something that might jeopardize your claim.

Instead, consult a car accident attorney as soon as possible following your crash. They can immediately take over all communications with adjusters, so you do not have to worry about the process. Seek your free case evaluation today.

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