Have you filed a claim with an insurance company after being injured in an accident? If so, you may be eager to receive a settlement to assist you in paying your medical bills, addressing lost wages, and more.
It’s thus understandable if you feel the urge to accept the first settlement offer an insurance company makes. However, in the long run, this might be unwise.
Reasons not to immediately accept an insurance company’s first settlement offer include the following:
The Offer May Be Too Low
Calculating how much compensation you’re eligible for after being injured is often a complex task. It may require adding up your relevant medical bills, determining how much income you’ve lost as a result of your injuries, accounting for property damage, and more.
Insurers know that claimants often lack the expertise necessary to determine how much compensation they may be owed. Thus, insurers may offer claimants settlements that don’t represent truly fair compensation.
Keep in mind that insurance is a business. An insurance company will strive to avoid losing money whenever possible. As such, an insurer may attempt to convince you to settle for less compensation than you could potentially receive if you were to enter into negotiations.
You May Need to Account for Future Losses
Even if the settlement offer an insurance company makes would fairly compensate you for all the financial losses you’ve already incurred, it’s possible you may incur future financial losses that the current settlement offer doesn’t account for.
Perhaps you will need ongoing medical care to address your injuries after an accident. Maybe your injuries will permanently limit your earning potential.
If you accept a settlement offer now, you can’t pursue an additional settlement if you incur more financial losses resulting from your accident later on. With this in mind, it’s best to review a settlement offer with an expert to determine if it properly reflects both your past losses and potential future losses.
Insurers know that claimants often lack the expertise necessary to determine how much compensation they may be owed.
You May Be Eligible for Non-Economic Damages
The types of damages a settlement may provide compensation for come in two general forms: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages consist of the financial losses a claimant might have incurred after an accident. Again, common examples include medical bills and lost wages.
However, sometimes accident victims also sustain losses that don’t have clear dollar values. For instance, if you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, you may have to endure significant physical pain. If your injuries have prevented you from participating in activities you once enjoyed, you might also struggle with depression, anxiety, and other such mental and emotional health issues.
You may be eligible to receive compensation for these struggles. However, there’s a good chance an insurance company’s initial settlement offer won’t account for your non-economic damages.
You Might Have Limited Information
It seems like an ideal scenario: You file a claim after being injured in an accident, and instead of delaying or attempting to deny your claim, the insurance company makes a settlement offer fairly quickly.
Once more, this is a situation in which it would be entirely understandable for you to want to accept the offer. When you’re facing bills and you don’t know how you’ll pay them on your own, accepting an insurance company’s settlement offer can seem to be an effective way to ease your concerns during what can be an overwhelming time.
That said, it’s important to keep in mind that in the early aftermath of an accident, the information you might have about the full extent of your injuries (and the treatment that might be necessary to address them) could be fairly limited. Before accepting a settlement offer, you need to be confident you have a thorough and accurate picture of your medical situation. You might also need more time to evaluate how your injury will affect your income if you can’t work until you make a full recovery.
The Importance of Speaking to an Attorney
If you’re not sure whether you should accept an insurance company’s offer, remember that you don’t need to handle this process by yourself. Nor should you. It may be wiser to hire an attorney to represent you in these circumstances.
At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., our Boston personal injury lawyers can review an insurance company’s settlement offer on your behalf. If we determine it’s too low to properly compensate you for your damages, we’re prepared to enter into aggressive negotiations with the insurer. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling us at (617) 742-1900.
If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.