After a car accident, an insurance adjuster may approach you to discuss a settlement of your personal injury claim.
The adjuster may make a settlement offer that sounds appealing.
However, beware of the common tactics used to diminish your cases value, because to receive the money for your injury claim, you are required to sign a settlement agreement.
WHAT IS A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?
A settlement is an agreement between two parties that settles a dispute. In personal injury claims, a settlement generally results in payment of compensation to the victim. The amount of compensation paid for damages depends on the facts of the case.
The insurance company prepares a car accident settlement agreement outlining the details of your settlement. A representative from the company explains that you must sign the agreement before the company can pay your claim. The agreement is lengthy and contains numerous clauses and legal terminology about liability, fault, claims, negligence, third parties, etc.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU SIGN A CAR ACCIDENT SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
Do not sign a settlement agreement for your car accident claim until you consider these 3 important issues.
1. DO YOU KNOW THE VALUE OF YOUR CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM?
The insurance company has no incentive to tell you the actual value of your car accident claim. On the contrary, it is in the insurance company’s best interest if you do not know the value of your claim. If you do not know how much your car accident claim is worth, you do not know if the insurance company is undervaluing your damages.
Before you sign a settlement agreement, you should understand the types of damages available in a car accident claim. You also need to understand how much each of those damages is worth.
In most car accident cases, the accident victims are entitled to compensation for their economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover your financial losses caused by the car crash. They may include your loss of income, travel expenses, medications, medical treatment, personal care, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
You can also receive compensation for non-economic damages. These damages you may have heard of, including pain and suffering, discomfort, loss of consortium, and inconvenience caused by the car wreck.
Calculating damages for a car accident claim can be challenging. There is no standard formula for placing a value on pain and suffering damages. This is why it is important to consult an experienced Personal Injury Attorney before signing any settlement agreement.
2. IS THE AGREEMENT IN YOUR BEST INTEREST OR THE INSURANCE COMPANY’S BEST INTEREST?
Let’s be honest, insurance is a business, and they try their best to make money. The insurance company will always draft the car accident settlement agreement in its favor. It is going to offer the lowest amount it believes you will accept to settle your claim. It will also put terms and conditions in the settlement agreement that favor the company.
The insurance claims adjuster and other individuals working for the company do not represent you. They are not working on getting you the best settlement, nor are they looking out for your best interests.
Have you completed medical treatment? If not, do not sign a settlement agreement. You could be entitled to additional compensation once treatment is completed.
It is common for the company to be trying to get you to enter a binding agreement before you realize the extent of your injuries or talk to a personal injury lawyer.
It is important to understand that you are representing yourself if you settle your claim without an attorney. There is no one looking out for your best interests. Unless you are sure that the settlement agreement is in your best interests, it may be wise to seek legal advice before signing a legally binding contract.
3. HAVE YOU REVIEWED ALL YOUR OPTIONS?
You are not required to settle your car accident claim. The insurance company may aggressively pressure you to enter a settlement agreement because it wants to avoid a lawsuit. However, filing a personal injury lawsuit might be in your best interest.
You should consider why the insurance company is aggressively pressuring you to settle your claim. Is the company trying to avoid further liability for your car accident claim?
If you are unsure whether you want to go through a trial, you may want to discuss mediation or arbitration options with a lawyer. These options settle a case outside of court and might be a good alternative when you want to negotiate a higher settlement amount for your claim.
Do not wait too long to explore your options. Your time to file a personal injury lawsuit is limited. You give up your legal right to file a lawsuit if you miss the deadline.
CALL OUR BOISE CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS FOR A FREE CONSULTATION