Car accidents with injuries and property damages are almost always stressful. If you are hurt, you probably need money to pay for medical bills and to cover your lost wages. On the other side, the defendant may be fearing a lawsuit. These reasons are why it can be tempting to settle a car accident claim quickly before you have a chance to think it through.
If you are the plaintiff seeking damages for your injuries from the other party’s insurance company, you may want to grab the first settlement offer that comes your way. This is nearly always a bad idea.
For a car accident that was caused by the defendant, it is common for the insurance company to offer much less at first than the case is worth. They do this because they know that an inexperienced, injured party may need money and will take almost anything that is offered. The adjuster will call you and try to get you to settle for the very least possible.
But the insurance adjuster already knows the likely range of a possible settlement offer – both the low and high end. They will always offer as little as possible at first. For example, the insurance adjuster may think your injuries are worth $30,000, but they will probably start at $5000 or even less.
Before you can determine if the settlement offer is a low ball, you need to have an idea how much your accident injuries are truly worth. Some injuries are easy to add up, including medical costs, lost wages, rehabilitation and repairs to your vehicle. These damages have an exact dollar amount. The insurance adjuster will quickly add all these up, and so should you.
But you also may be entitled to noneconomic damages that are tougher to determine. These include pain and suffering, emotional upset and anguish, lost companionship and loss of ability to earn a living.
Every car accident is different, and your personal injury attorney is skilled in analyzing your case and figuring out how much you may be eligible to receive for compensation. Based upon a careful analysis, your attorney will arrive at a fair settlement range that adequately compensates you.
Whatever the range that your attorney thinks your injuries and damages are worth, you should always let a professional handle the negotiations with the insurance company. The only exception is if the damages are very low and you are positive you have not suffered a serious injury.
Remember – if you opt to settle and you sign the paperwork, the decision is final and can never be appealed. That is why you really need to be certain that you get a good settlement offer from the insurance company before you agree to anything. And that first offer from the insurance company? It’s always a low ball amount that they hope you will spring at, especially if you are not represented by an attorney, so always reject that first offer.
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