Why Insurance Companies Offer Fast Settlement Offers
Insurance companies frequently try to offer fast settlements before people complete their medical treatment or can speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. If you accept an early offer without speaking to an attorney, it might not be in your best interest. If you have received a settlement offer from the at-fault part's insurance company, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney.
A lawyer can evaluate your offer and determine its value so that you can make an informed decision. Insurance companies sometimes make low-ball settlement offers quickly in the hope that the victims will think their claims are worth less than they are or will accept the fast settlement offers. Injury lawyers can help you understand the value of your claim and help you negotiate with the insurance company to try to secure a fairer offer.
There are a few other reasons why the initial settlement offer might be too low. For example, an adjuster might send a low offer when they don't have all of the necessary information about your wage losses, medical bills, and other damages. This is a good reason why you shouldn't accept an early offer before your medical treatment is completed or when you at least have an idea of how much your future medical expenses might be.
Some other factors that could lead to a low settlement offer include the following:
- Minimal damage to your vehicle with serious injuries
- Unexplained gaps in your medical treatment
- Pre-existing injuries in the areas where you suffered injuries in your accident
What Happens if You Accept a Fast Settlement Offer?
You should never accept a settlement offer until you have recovered from your injuries and understand their full extent. This helps you to ensure that your settlement will be enough to cover your future medical costs related to your injuries. When you sign a settlement offer, it will include a waiver of your rights under Cal. Civ. Proc. 1542. This statute specifies that a general release cannot waive your rights to recover damages for your losses that you were unaware of at the time of your settlement. When you sign a settlement offer that includes a waiver of CCP 1542, you will not be allowed to come back later to recover more compensation to cover your additional losses when you become aware of them.
Once you sign a settlement agreement with a CCP waiver and accept it, you will not be able to try to renegotiate your settlement or file another claim to recover more compensation. Signed settlement agreements are binding contracts through which you agree to accept payment in exchange for ending your lawsuit and giving up your rights to recover additional damages. If you later discover that your settlement was insufficient to cover your losses, you can't undo it. This is why you must evaluate any settlement offer carefully before you accept it. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help by properly valuing your claim so that you can assess whether an offer is fair and reasonable.
How to Respond to an Early Settlement Offer
If you receive an early settlement offer and either believe that it is too low or are unsure of how much your claim might be worth, don't agree to it. Instead, tell the insurance company representative that you want to talk to an attorney before you will sign anything. Some people believe they can negotiate with insurance companies without help, but it is not a good idea. Insurance companies have teams of defense lawyers at the ready to defend against accident claims. Trying to negotiate with the insurance company without legal representation can place you on uneven footing at a time when you are also dealing with your injuries and financial losses.
Most accident victims who accept early settlement offers from insurance companies end up receiving much less money for their claims than people who negotiate with the insurers to try to recover additional compensation. Take the time you need to learn about your rights and legal options before you accept an offer. Doing so can greatly increase your chances of being fairly compensated for your losses.
Gather your documents and schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Bring your accident reports, medical bills, wage statements showing your income losses, and medical records from your treatment. Avoid responding emotionally when you receive a low offer. Regardless of your financial situation or how upset you might feel, be polite and remain professional. Remember that the insurance company can use anything that you say against you in your claim. so avoid talking to the company beyond telling the representative that you plan to speak with an attorney. Once you retain a lawyer, all communications will go through him or her.
Your attorney will know that insurance companies typically offer the lowest amount they think they can get away with as the initial settlement offer. He or she will ask questions to find out why the adjuster made the offer and for a breakdown of it based on the information the adjuster has. If the adjuster denies your claim, he or she will have to provide reasons for the decision. The information learned will help your attorney understand how to start with a counteroffer.
Everything must be thoroughly documented. Your attorney will investigate your accident to determine what happened and to identify all potentially liable parties. He or she will use the evidence gleaned to present the strongest possible case of liability to the insurance company to support your claim. When you have documentary evidence to back up your claim, it will make it more difficult for the insurance company to continue supporting a low offer.
When you have all of the documentation and facts, your attorney can assess the value of your claim and respond by sending a demand letter with your counteroffer. Other factors that will be important include the insurance policy limits, whether the at-fault party has sufficient personal assets to cover your losses beyond the policy limits, whether you have uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage, and whether there are additional sources of recovery such as from multiple liable parties.
Ultimately, it will be your decision about whether to accept an offer. Your attorney will advise you about the potential value of your claim given all of the relevant factors and circumstances. If you and your lawyer are unable to reach a fair settlement agreement through negotiations, it might be necessary to file a formal lawsuit and litigate your case through trial.
Get Help From the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC
The personal injury attorneys at the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC have extensive experience and training in dealing with insurance companies. They can help you to negotiate with the at-fault party's insurance company to try to secure a fair settlement agreement. Your attorney will complete a detailed analysis of your damages to calculate your future losses and your non-economic damages in addition to the expenses you have already incurred. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling us at 1-866-966-5240.