Millions of car accidents occur every year, leading to countless people getting injured through no real fault of their own. The consequences of these accidents can be terrible to deal with, not only causing physical harm but potentially leading to serious mental distress and a range of other factors too, such as lost income from missing work or relationship difficulties due to stress and trauma post-accident.
On top of all of that, you may also find yourself having to deal with difficult insurance adjusters who are simply trying to get the best possible deal for themselves, without necessarily taking your pain and suffering into account. Experienced car accident and personal injury lawyers can assist you through this process, but there may come a time when a settlement offer is put forward.
At that point, you have a few different options to consider, and it’s important to take your time, gather all the information you can, speak with your lawyer regarding the right steps to take and make the right call to help you move forward. With this in mind, let’s look at some legal do’s and don’ts when it comes to responding to settlement offers.
Don’t: Rush into Anything
One of the first things to keep in mind after being approached with a settlement offer is that the ball is in your court and you’ve got time to consider the offer, analyze it carefully alongside your lawyer, and come to a conclusion regarding what to do next. You shouldn’t at any point feel rushed or forced into anything, and there’s no need to make a decision straight away.
In fact, the best thing to do is take your time, especially if you’re still suffering the after-effects of the accident. For example, if you’re still receiving medical treatment for your injuries, then do not settle your claim until you have completely healed, as you may incur further medical bills and expenses that aren’t even being covered or taken into account with the existing offer, suggests mileylegal.com.
Do: Ask Questions and Take Your Time
Following on from the previous point, it’s important to reinforce the idea that you should take your time and use it wisely. If you’re been handling your claim alone up to that point, it’s best to contact an experienced, qualified lawyer once an offer comes in in order to get some expert, legal advice regarding what you should do next.
Ask your lawyer questions and get their view on the matter. If you’re working with an experienced lawyer, they’ll have handled many similar claims and settlements in the past. They’ll be able to differentiate between a good or bad offer, helping you see more clearly and avoid falling into the common traps and pitfalls set by insurance adjusters. If you’re unclear on anything at all, be sure to ask your lawyer for more information or a clear explanation.
Don’t: Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You
It’s perfectly understandable that you may find yourself in an emotional state when an offer first arrives. Sadly, in the vast majority of cases, insurance adjusters will be looking out for their own interests, leading to low-ball offers that may disappoint you. However, this is all part of the process, and it’s important to try and stay calm and collected, not letting your emotions get the best of you.
Even if you feel that the insurance adjusters are trying to take advantage of you, getting angry will only help you fall right into their trap. It could even hurt your case if you respond violently, or it might lead to you making a bad decision that could affect your chances of a successful outcome. Instead, keep as calm as you can and ask your lawyer to handle communications on your behalf if you prefer.
Do: Know Your Rights
In any legal situation, it’s important to know your rights, understanding what you can and can’t do, what you’re entitled to, and so on. Many people aren’t sure exactly what they’re allowed to do when an offer comes in, and this is another reason why it can be so important to have an experienced lawyer by your side.
It’s important to note that you are under no obligation to accept the first offer that arrives. You have the right to reject the offer, to negotiate, or to develop a counteroffer, with the help of your attorney.
There may even be many offers put back and forth between each party, and you always reserve the right to accept or refuse an offer. If you refuse all the way, your case may end up in a court, decided upon by a judge and jury, but don’t forget that if you do accept an offer, you won’t be able to negotiate anything else.
Don’t Let Insurance Adjusters Intimidate You
Put simply, the insurance adjuster’s role in this process is to try and get you to accept the lowest possible amount. They’re working for themselves, and it’s logical that they want to get the best possible deal. In order to do this, they may try and trip you up along the way or make you feel pressured into accepting an offer they know is unfair or excessively low.
They may resort to various techniques and tactics, such as delaying your claim for weeks and months, refusing to pay out any benefits without excessive justification, or simply offering amounts that don’t suffice. They may even claim that their offer is ‘final’ or ‘as high as they can go’, but this is simply untrue in many cases, so don’t believe what they say or fall for their tricks, relying on your lawyer to help guide the way.
Being in an accident is stressful and worrying enough on its own, and it can feel so much worse when you find yourself thrust into difficult and often cruel negotiations with insurance adjusters that only seem to be looking after their own interests. Follow these do’s and don’ts in order to get the best result, remembering to take your time, remain calm, and speak with your lawyer as much as needed to get the advice and assistance you need to help your claim come to a satisfying conclusion.