After a car accident, a slip and fall accident, or other type of personal injury accident, a victim sometimes receives a settlement offer from an insurance company. If an insurer agrees that its policyholder was at fault for an accident and resulting injuries, the company may be eager to settle quickly. When an injured accident victim gets a settlement offer, it is usually a sign that the insurance company is trying to settle for less than the victim is entitled to. Before signing any agreements with an insurance company, even your own, you should consult a personal injury attorney.
A personal injury attorney will explain the value of your claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and make sure you get full compensation for all your losses.
Don’t Sign a Settlement Agreement Before You Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
Almost all accident claims are paid by insurance companies. After a slip and fall, for example, a property owner will rely on his homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to compensate injured victims. After a motor vehicle accident, an auto insurer will compensate collision victims.
Insurance companies are businesses and will always try to pay the minimum amount possible to victims. In cases where they are concerned about large payouts, they often try to get an accident victim to accept a quick settlement for less than the victim is entitled to.
There are many reasons why accident victims should not accept a settlement offer without getting the advice of a personal injury attorney. Some of the key reasons include:
- You can’t go back. When a victim accepts a settlement he must sign a liability release. Once signed, the victim cannot sue even if his damages turn out to be greater than anticipated. A victim who settles too quickly may not receive full compensation for all damages.
- Insurance companies don’t make money by playing fair. The American Association for Justice has a comprehensive list of the worst insurance companies in America, and the abuses they perpetrate on accident victims. The report describes one insurer’s claims-handling practices as: “a combination of lowball offers and hardball litigation. When policyholders file a claim, they are often offered an unjustifiably low payment for their injuries…” Insurers can take advantage of victims who do not normally deal with insurance companies.
- Injuries may be worse than initially thought. Sometimes the full extent of an injury is not immediately known. For example, according to Northwestern, most people recover from whiplash injuries, but around 25 percent develop chronic pain lasting for months or years. The extent of a victim’s brain injury or spinal cord damage may be uncertain for weeks or months. Settlements should not be reached until the full extent of an injury is known.
- Victims may not know what their case is worth. Victims should be compensated for loss of earnings, ongoing and past medical costs, pain and discomfort, emotional distress, and other losses. Case valuation requires expertise. Legal and medical experts are needed to anticipate ongoing medical expenditures, loss of earning power and how to put a value on pain and suffering.
Knowledge of the law and of how accident claims are compensated is key to getting a fair settlement. A Long Beach personal injury attorney knows what a claim is worth and how to get victims the right settlement amount. An attorney will consult with appropriate experts, make a demand to the insurer for a reasonable settlement amount, and proceed to court, if necessary, to get victims the compensation they actually deserve.
Contact a Long Beach Personal Injury Attorney for Help After Your Accident
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
I exclusively represent personal injury victims during settlement negotiations and litigation. I take your injuries personally, and that is why I directly handle all aspects of every case to ensure you receive maximum compensation.
Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation. You are under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover damages for your injuries. I offer bilingual services as part of my comprehensive approach to legal representation and I am available 24/7 to talk to you about your case.
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