Maybe you were on the highway during the afternoon rush hour in heavy traffic and an 18-wheeler merged directly into your left side, totally your vehicle and breaking your leg in three places. Perhaps a drunk driver hit you from behind on the surface street early one morning.
When you get hurt or suffer major property damages in a car crash, you turn to the insurance of the driver that hit you for compensation. Most drivers carry liability coverage in case they cause bodily injuries or property damage to other people. You naturally expect that their insurance will pay for your expenses, and you may even feel relieved when you get an offer for the settlement just a few days after the crash.
However, insurance companies often offer settlements because they want to save money. Accepting it quickly could leave you at a disadvantage later.
A settlement often means taking less than you should get
The risk in any insurance settlement scenario is that what you accept is not actually enough to cover all of your costs. A settlement agreement typically comes with the contractual release for the insurance company. They will no longer have any future liability regardless of what costs you have in the future.
When a settlement offer is significantly below the policy limits for the coverage available, it is likely beneficial for the insurance company for you to accept it.
How do you respond to a settlement offer?
When the insurance company offers a lump-sum settlement, you need to determine what your costs have been and what your future expenses will be. Lost wages, diminished vehicle resale value and hospital bills can all contribute to the existing losses you have already suffered. After you have a realistic estimate of what the crash will cost you, you are in a position to counter the initial offer and hopefully negotiate for a better settlement amount.
Of course, someone coping with injuries from a car crash may not have the emotional clarity or resilience to handle the stressful process of negotiating with an insurance adjuster. Getting professional help can make it easier for those who get hurt in a car crash to secure an appropriate settlement from the appropriate insurance company.