After an accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company may quickly offer you a settlement if there is evidence that their policyholder is to blame. Although it can be tempting to accept, the first settlement offer is typically much lower than your claim’s actual value. Therefore, it is likely in your best interests not to take it and consult an attorney first.
When an insurance company sends you a settlement offer, it will be in the form of a letter that contains instructions to sign and return it to be sent a check. If you sign the form, also known as a release of liability, you give up your right to sue the at-fault party and pursue any further compensation. Although insurers may imply that their offer is a “now or never” type of agreement, it is not true. Instead, their goal is to settle claims quickly and for as little as possible.
If you accept an initial settlement, there is the risk that you do not yet fully understand the extent of your injuries and financial losses. If your injury turns out to be more serious than expected, you may end up with much less compensation than you need to make a full recovery. Take, for example, the following scenarios:
Therefore, before settling, it is important to either fully recover physically or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is when a doctor determines that nothing more can be done to improve your condition. That way, you will know how your injuries will impact you in the future.
The first settlement offer may be enough to cover your initial out-of-pocket expenses, but your agreement should take much more into consideration. For example, the amount of compensation you receive should reflect:
This is by no means an exhaustive list. However, a San Diego personal injury attorney will be able to assess your case and determine which types and the amount of compensation you are entitled to.