Should I Accept the First Settlement Offer from an Insurance Company?
David Muñoz | August 23, 2022 | Personal Injury
If you were recently injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident, or truck accident, you may be anxious to receive settlement money to pay for your medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and lost wages. You might be wondering whether you should accept the first settlement offer from an insurance company. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help negotiate a fair settlement and advise you whether an offer will fairly compensate you for your injuries.
What Is a Settlement Offer?
A settlement offer is an offer from a party involved in a legal dispute to resolve the case, usually by agreeing to pay a certain amount of money. California law prohibits a claimant from using a party’s offer to resolve a claim as evidence of any wrongdoing.
If you accept a settlement offer, you will usually be required to sign a release of any claims you have against the defendant. This means that you will not be able to go back and sue the defendant if you find out your injuries were more severe or caused more damages than you initially believed.
Why You Shouldn’t Accept the First Settlement Offer
Accident victims and insurance companies are inherently in opposing positions. You want to receive the maximum amount and settle as quickly as possible. The insurance company wants to settle your claim for as little as possible and doesn’t have much incentive to speed up the process.
Insurance adjusters know that the insurance company they represent has more power in this situation, so they will often offer less money initially in the hopes that the victim will be desperate enough to accept it.
Another reason you might not want to accept the first settlement offer is that you may not be aware of the full extent of your injuries. You may have more injuries than you first realized, or your injuries may be more severe than you thought immediately after the accident. You should have a good understanding of your injuries and how they will affect you financially before you seriously consider a settlement offer.
You cannot generally accept an offer and then try to get more settlement money later.
Expenses related to the accident may quickly add up, or you may have prolonged expenses related to your claim, including:
- Anticipated medical treatments in the future
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy expenses
- Home health care
- Adaptations to your home to account for a disability
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity if your post-accident earnings are projected to be less than they were before the accident
You may also suffer physically or mentally for a considerable time after the accident.
The insurance company is hoping that claimants do not take the time to consider the true value of their claim.
Determining the Value of Your Claim
Before accepting or rejecting a settlement offer, you should try to calculate the value of your claim. You can do this by adding up all of your damages.
California law divides damages into two broad categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include those losses that you suffer that can be broken down into a dollar figure, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Costs to repair or replace property
- Loss of use of property
- Costs to obtain substitute domestic services
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of employment
- Loss of business or employment opportunities
- Burial costs (in the event of wrongful death)
Non-economic damages are more subjective and non-monetary in nature.
These damages include:
- Injury to reputation
- Loss of society
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Mental suffering
- Emotional distress
Any offer you receive should carefully be compared to the damages you have suffered.
A skilled personal injury lawyer can give you a better idea of the potential value of your claim.
Contact the Chula Vista Personal Injury Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108
We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.