- Why You Should Never Settle Your Auto Accident Quickly
- November 12, 2018 | Author: Charles Allen
- Law Firm: Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC - Atlanta Office
Imagine that you’re involved in an auto accident that wasn’t your fault. You went to the emergency room right after the collision and the doctor told you that you don’t have any broken bones. It relieves you to hear that good news, but you still have back pain after the accident. The doctor tells you that the pain in your neck after the accident and back should be gone within a matter of weeks. Over the course of the next couple weeks, your neck and back pain comes and goes. Some days are worse than others, but, overall your pain is pretty tolerable.
A few weeks after the collision, your phone rings. It’s the insurance adjuster that represents the driver that injured you. The adjuster asks how you’re doing and you tell him that you’ve got some neck and back pain, but it isn’t too bad. The adjuster replies, “I’m glad to hear that. How about we wrap up your claim now? I’ve got money to offer you to get it resolved.” The adjuster offers you $5,000. That’s the most money that you’ve seen in quite a while.
You haven’t received your emergency room bill yet, but you hope that it won’t exceed $2,500. If that’s true, and you accept the insurance adjuster’s $5,000 offer, you believe that you can walk away with $2,500 in your pocket after your emergency bill is paid. “Not bad,” you say. “I didn’t even have to hire an attorney to get this case settled.” So, you accept the insurance adjuster’s offer. The check arrives a week or so later, you cash it, and prepare to go on with your life.
A few days after you deposit your settlement check, you receive the emergency room bill. It’s $15,000! You don’t have health insurance and the hospital tells you that they want to be paid in full. The pain in your neck and back has lately gotten much worse. One day, the pain was so bad that you went to go see an orthopedic doctor. After examining you, the orthopedic doctor tells you that you may need surgery to relieve the pain symptoms in your neck and back. Those surgeries will cost upwards of $100,000 if you don’t have health insurance. It dawns upon you that you will regret settling your case quickly for the rest of your life. If you had not settled so quickly, then you may still have time to file a personal injury lawsuit for the injuries that you sustained.
The Insurance Company Always Low Balls You with Its Initial Offer
The initial settlement offer that the insurance company makes is always its lowest offer. Any additional offer that they make will exceed their initial offer. Don’t leave money on the table by settling your case too soon.
When the insurance adjuster receives your medical bills and records, he or she will evaluate the value of your case based upon the extent of your injuries and what juries typically award for those types of injuries in the county where the at-fault driver lives (you typically have to sue the at-fault driver in the county in which he or she lives). Once the insurance adjuster determines that value, he or she will try to persuade you to settle for far less than that case value. The insurance adjuster receives bonuses and promotions based upon how deep of a discount he or she can negotiate for the insurance company in each case.
If you’ve been harmed in a car collision, you should contact a car accident attorney.
You Might Miss the Opportunity to Collect Important Evidence to Enhance the Value of Your Case
If you settle your case too quickly, you will also miss out on the opportunity to make your case stronger. A stronger case is worth more money.
One of the first questions that we ask our clients when they contact us about their car accident case is whether there were any people that witnessed the collision. Most clients tell us that there were some people in the general vicinity of the collision scene, but they don’t think any of those witnesses volunteered information to the investigating police officer.
If there aren’t any independent witnesses that observed the collision, the insurance company will try and diminish the value of your case by arguing that it is a “he said/she said” situation where you and the other driver that injured you just have different recollections about how the collision occurred.
If you hire an experienced auto accident attorney, that attorney will know how to find other ways to locate witnesses that could help enhance the value of your case. For instance, maybe a witness called 911 and described what happened before leaving the scene. Your attorney will acquire acopy of the 911 report and contact the witness to get a statement. If the witness agrees that the other driver was at fault, it will be far more difficult for the insurance company to offer you a low ball settlement. If you’d settled your case too soon before hiring an auto accident attorney, you would have missed out on the opportunity to maximize the value of your settlement.
The Total Impact of Your Injuries May Be Unknown if You Quickly Settle
The greatest risk that you run by settling your case too soon is that you will lose the opportunity to recover additional compensation if your injuries turn out to be much worse than they initially appear.
Once your case is settled, you can’t call the insurance adjuster a year later and ask for more money if it turns out that you need neck or back surgery. Once a settlement is finalized, it almost never can be undone.
You should never settle your case until you have completed all of your medical treatment and your doctor has told you that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement doesn’t mean that your injuries are gone. It just means that you’ve improved as much as you’re going to improve. By then, your doctor will either have ruled out the possibility of future medical treatment, or, the doctor might recommend that you will need surgery in the future and estimate the cost of the surgery so that you can give that number to the insurance adjuster for him or her to consider as part of your settlement demand.