When someone else causes a car accident, their insurance company should cover all your injury-related losses. You file a claim and might expect to receive a check for the full amount you deserve. However, insurance companies often make settlement offers for much less than claimants need to cover their losses. So how do you know whether a settlement offer for a car accident is “good” or not?
What constitutes a favorable offer depends on the circumstances of your case, and the number can vary widely from one accident to another. Never assume that because a friend or a family member received a certain amount, a similar amount is sufficient for you.
Further, never accept a settlement offer before you consult a car accident lawyer. We cannot overstate this. Too many people think an offer seems fine, and they accept it, only to later learn they deserved much more. You lose the right to request additional settlement funds, so always seek legal advice before accepting anything from an insurance company.
Below are some considerations for fair settlement offers. To discuss your specific case and what you deserve, schedule a free consultation with a car accident attorney in your area.
A Settlement Should Cover Both Short and Long-Term Medical Bills
Right after your car accident, seek out emergency medical services to address any injuries that need immediate attention. The excitement and adrenaline associated with an accident can cause you to overlook or not feel some injuries at the time, which is why visiting the emergency room is so important.
Do not let fear of cost prevent you from seeking medical help, as your health comes first. Further, if someone else caused your crash, you should not be responsible for your medical bills, and your settlement should cover them.
Injuries from your car accident may not simply go away in a few weeks or months, as some injuries persist for years or the rest of your life. Your injury may require ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, medication, and other costs well into the future, and you should not be responsible for future medical costs either.
You need to ensure that your settlement covers all the estimated bills and expenses you will face down the road. Once your case concludes, you cannot seek additional compensation. Have a car accident lawyer calculate your future estimated costs to include in your insurance demand.
Your Settlement Should Include Lost Wages During Recovery and Decreased Earning Potential
Your compensation must cover your medical costs and your occupational losses. Your injury might make it so that you cannot return to work for an extended time, or you may never return to a position that pays as well as what you were doing before the injury. Some injuries prevent victims from ever working again.
In such situations, you deserve compensation to cover your lost wages and work benefits in the short term and any decrease in your future earning potential from the time of your injury through your working life. Determining the value of future lost earnings can require the opinion of an occupational expert, and your car accident lawyer should have such resources.
Some Accident Victims Have Additional Damages Available
Serious injuries cost more than just money.
They can take a toll on many aspects of your life and cause:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
These non-economic damages are just as important as financial losses in many cases. If your injury affected the way you live your life and caused intangible losses, your car accident lawyer should fight for your settlement to cover these.
If the conduct of the liable party was particularly egregious, you might be eligible for punitive damages – also called exemplary damages in some states. These might apply if a driver was intentionally drag racing, engaged in road rage that caused intentional harm, or drove drunk after already having multiple OUI convictions. Your lawyer can advise whether such damages might apply to your claim.
Your Attorney Negotiates the Best Settlement for You
You can bet that the first settlement offer from an insurance company – or maybe the first few offers – will be too low. This is how the insurance company begins negotiations. This is why few injury victims accept the first offer they receive.
Your attorney knows what you should recover and negotiates on your behalf with the insurance company. Your attorney works to ensure that your settlement does not shortchange you, leaving you and your family to cover future costs and bills associated with your injuries. The purpose of seeking compensation for your injuries is to shift the costs to the party that caused the accident, and if you accept a low offer of settlement without proper negotiations, the insurance company will save money at your expense.
Some people never receive a “good” settlement offer directly from an insurance adjuster. This does not mean you are out of luck, however. The law gives you the option to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver or other parties. Then, the insurance company will need to defend the claim in court.
Often, having the right lawyer handling your claim is enough to get a favorable offer. This is because insurers know that skilled attorneys will not hesitate to file a lawsuit if the company does not offer enough.
Connect With a Car Accident Attorney to Seek Maximum Compensation for Your Case
With a car accident attorney on your side as soon as possible after your accident, you can focus on recovering from your injuries while your attorney focuses on ensuring that you collect the full compensation that you deserve. The best way to protect your rights and your financial future is to consult with a car accident lawyer as soon as you can.