Auto accidents can throw a person’s life into chaos. Schedules are suddenly filled with doctor appointments, vehicle repair estimates, therapy sessions, insurance company calls, choosing a personal injury lawyer in Redding, and the logistics of managing life while injured and without a car or motorcycle.
It can be tempting to “take the cash and run” when an insurance company says they will quickly cut a check. Cash in hand means accident victims can pay for repairs and medical care and no longer deal with claims adjusters. Personal injury lawyers in Redding, California, know that an early settlement helps victims feel like life is getting back to normal.
Before accepting a settlement offer, however, accident victims must know four critical pieces of information. Talk with a Redding personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company. The safety attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel provide a free consultation for accident victims. Their personal injury lawyers will explain the best time to accept a settlement offer and the consequences of signing one too early in the process. Call them today.
1. Victims Can Reject a Settlement Offer and Still Receive Compensation
Insurance companies imply that settlement offers are “now or never” agreements. It seems that if an accident victim rejects the proposal, the victim will get nothing. This is not true.
Experienced personal injury attorneys know that a settlement offer is the beginning of a negotiation process with the insurance company. Insurance companies want to spend as little time and money as possible on each claim. Quick settlements help them achieve this goal. But quick settlements are usually unfair for accident victims because the value of most accident claims is much higher than initial settlement offers.
An accident victim can make a counter-offer to the insurance company or can reject the claim. When an accident victim is represented by a successful personal injury attorney, the insurance company knows that the case could go all the way to trial, which is expensive for the insurance company. Insurance companies are motivated to make fair settlement offers when an accident victim understands the claims process and the value of the case and is willing to go to trial.
2. Settlement Agreements are Final and Binding
Settlement agreements include a release of liability, which means the insurance company is not responsible for any payments outside of the settlement agreement. The victim cannot ask for more money in the future and cannot take the case to court.
This is true even if the accident injuries turn out to be more serious than initially thought, if unexpected complications arise, or if the victim didn’t understand the full value of the claim. For accident victims, the lack of complete information is one of the primary dangers of a quick settlement.
3. Injuries May Be More Serious Than They First Appear
The full extent of injuries from an accident may not be known for a long time after the incident. This could be due to many reasons, including the following:
- the injuries require more extensive treatment than anticipated
- the wounds don’t heal as expected
- complications arise
- secondary infections set in.
Before accepting a settlement, accident victims must know how injuries will affect current and future employment opportunities, mobility and activity levels, overall health, and quality of life. They should also understand what ongoing care or treatment will be needed as a result of the accident. These things are usually known once a person has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). At some point in a person’s recovery, a doctor will determine that nothing more can be done to improve the patient’s condition because the patient has achieved MMI. Any impairment or injury existing at that point is not expected to get better; it is likely a permanent condition. Injured persons should not accept settlement offers before reaching MMI because the full impact of their injuries isn’t yet known.
4. The Total Cost of an Accident is More Than Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Many insurance settlement offers include obvious out-of-pocket expenses such as repairs, immediate lost wages, and medical expenses not covered by other insurance. They usually do not cover the full value of the accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Redding can present evidence of many other losses for which victims should be compensated. A fair settlement compensates victims for all current and future expenses and damages, including the following:
- Vehicle repairs
- Alternate transportation
- Replacement services for household tasks the injured person typically performs (like shopping and cooking, cleaning, yard work, driving family members to activities, caring for children)
- Medical expenses
- Costs of future medical treatment and therapy
- Lost wages
- Expected future lost earnings
- Mental health treatment for trauma and emotional injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional or psychological injuries
- Loss of enjoyment in life activities
Accident victims who understand the value of everything that compensation should cover can determine whether a settlement offer is fair.
A Personal Injury Lawyer in Redding Protects Victims from Insurance Companies
Unrepresented accident victims are at a disadvantage when dealing with insurance companies. Before proceeding with an insurance claim, anyone involved in an accident should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. At the initial free consultation with a personal injury attorney at the Redding, California firm of Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel, accident victims learn their options and the value of their case. Call Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel today to discuss the four things victims should know before accepting an insurance settlement offer.