It is crucial to fully understand what you are entitled to both now and in the future before accepting an insurance settlement offer.
Anyone who wishes to drive in Missouri must carry liability insurance. Liability insurance covers the at-fault driver for any injuries and the other driver’s injuries and damages.
In an ideal situation, a car accident lawsuit is settled out of a courtroom. Typically, drivers, often with the help of an experienced attorney, can work out the details with the auto insurance company far before it gets to that level. This is generally accomplished through the negotiation and settlement phase. The insurance company will calculate how much they believe your accident is worth and offer you a settlement.
What Is a Settlement, and Should You Accept It?
A settlement is the amount of money an insurance company believes you are eligible to recover both for economic and non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are a bit trickier to estimate because they involve things like pain and suffering and emotional distress, which are both challenging to calculate. Since each person experiences pain differently, putting a standard amount to someone’s experience of grief or suffering is nearly impossible. Most insurance companies will use the multiplier or per diem methods to calculate your non-economic damages.
Economic damages are more straightforward because they are calculated using concrete figures, like how much your total medical care cost or how much money you lost in wages when you couldn’t work due to your injuries. It is essential to realize there are many ways that insurance companies try to limit the amount they pay for your non-economic damages. If you accept a settlement without consulting a lawyer, you may be doing yourself a huge financial disservice.
Once you accept a settlement, the insurance company is generally absolved from anything that may arise in the future. However, if you have been hurt in a car accident, the injuries either may not surface until later or worsen over time. If you don’t anticipate what you might need in the future, then you may be left with the financial responsibility for any further medical treatment you require and the pain and suffering that can come with it.
The Initial Settlement Offer
An initial offer forwarded by the insurance adjuster is generally on the lower side for two reasons. First, the insurance adjuster wants to save money for the insurance company, and second, the insurance adjuster wants to exercise authority in negotiating the final settlement. The initial offer is the beginning of the negotiation process. Once you have read and understood the offer, you can accept it, reject it, or negotiate an amount that you consider appropriate. The most important thing to do at this juncture is to consult an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney about your case to advise you about your legal rights.
Is the Settlement Offer Reasonable?
Before you accept or reject the initial offer, it is crucial to know whether the offer is reasonable or not. A reasonable offer should cover the expenses incurred, including medical bills, lost wages, car repair costs, and additional expenses, such as a towing fee. If you have sustained an injury, you should have an expert medical opinion about your condition. If you recover fully without any permanent disability, there may not be any long-term expenses; however, if you have sustained a permanent disability or your medical condition requires long-term treatment, there will be expenses involved, and you should consider those while considering the settlement offer.
Understanding the Insurance Policy
The next important thing is to understand your insurance policy in and out and the insurance rules in your state. The settlement claim will be limited by the upper limit of the insurance policy; hence, if your bills run higher than the coverage offered in your policy, the initial offer will be low. If you have sustained minor injuries in states that have no-fault car insurance rules, you will only be compensated for the damages incurred on your car and lost wages.
When It’s Time to Say No to a Settlement Offer
The best way to know when you should say “no” to any lowball insurance settlement offer is to have an experienced attorney review your case and calculate what your injuries and damages are worth, and estimate any potential necessary future expenses. If you sign a settlement, then you have little to no recourse.
Free Consultation with a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer
Don’t talk to an insurance claims adjuster before speaking with The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. We can help you avoid making statements that may affect the outcome of your case. The consultation is free; you don’t pay unless we get you money!