In the aftermath of a serious unexpected injury, you might be staring down piles of medical bills, as well as struggling with your household budget due to missed work and lost income. With financial stress – in addition to the pain and suffering from your injuries – it is only natural that you are anxious to receive compensation for your losses from the liable party’s insurance company.
Once you receive a settlement offer, it might be tempting to accept it, so you have a check in your hand as soon as possible. However, this can be a huge mistake, and you should never accept an offer without first discussing the matter with an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer.
Below are some reasons why you should never accept a first offer without legal guidance. To discuss your specific case, contact our legal team directly.
First Offers are Generally Quite Low
You might expect that insurance companies would be willing to make payments that fully cover the losses of victims. Insurance companies are just that, however – companies. Their priority is their own profits and not the well-being of claimants. This means that insurers want to minimize what they pay out, and they commonly train adjusters to offer as little as possible to claimants.
These companies will make a quick offer to claimants for a fraction of what the claim is worth. They are hoping that you want payment as soon as possible, so you might jump at the chance to accept the offer. Insurers also know that unrepresented claimants often do not know their options, and they might not know how to negotiate for a higher offer – or even know that negotiation is an option. Too many people end up with a settlement that is far lower than they deserve because they accepted a first offer without legal counsel.
What Happens if You Accept an Inadequate Offer?
You might not realize how inadequate a settlement is right away. You might use the funds to cover the medical bills you have, but then you might not have any left to pay bills for your future treatment. You might not also have enough to make up for the income you lost or compensate you for any intangible losses, such as pain and suffering.
Some injury victims assume they can simply request additional funds from the insurance company once they realize they did not receive enough to cover their losses. This is generally not possible, however, as insurers have claimants sign waivers when they accept payment.
Signing a waiver means that you give up your right to seek further compensation in relation to the accident and injuries involved in your claim. You will not be able to file another insurance claim nor file a lawsuit in civil court seeking additional damages. You are, in essence, stuck with the settlement amount you received. This means that by accepting an offer that is too low, you will be personally responsible for any losses not covered by the settlement.
How an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
There are many things that the right personal injury lawyer can do to help improve your settlement offer. First, many injured accident victims do not have an accurate idea of what their claim is worth. They might request coverage of their medical bills but fail to take many other losses into consideration. This can result in the acceptance of much less than they could – and should – receive for their losses. An experienced lawyer will know how to determine what your claim is worth and demand the full amount you deserve right from the start.
If you have a lawyer from the beginning of the claim process, the insurance company will know that it cannot use its usual tactics to convince you to accept a low offer. However, if you started the process without a lawyer, it is never too late to seek legal representation and advice. If you receive an offer, you should not hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney who can review the proposed settlement.
If your attorney determines the settlement offer is inadequate, they will know how to negotiate with the insurance company for the settlement you truly deserve. This might involve:
- Combatting allegations that you were partly liable for the accident
- Presenting evidence to prove the true value of your losses
- Getting expert opinions regarding the severity of your injuries, your future medical expenses, your future lost earnings, and more
In the face of persuasive and reliable evidence, the insurance adjuster might feel they have no choice but to offer enough to cover your losses.
Having a lawyer also serves another important purpose that can increase your settlement offer. Once you have legal assistance, the insurance company knows there is a greater chance you will file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the negligent party if you do not receive a fair offer. The insurance company is charged with covering any judgment against its policyholder, so you can expect the insurer to do everything it can to defend against the lawsuit.
The litigation process is costly for insurance companies in many ways, even if a case does not go to trial. Often, in order to avoid litigation, the insurer will increase its settlement offer to resolve the case out of court.
If you have a skilled lawyer on your side and the insurance company still refuses to act reasonably, your attorney will know the best course of action to take. You can focus on recovering from your injuries while your legal team uses their experience to fight for the financial recovery that you deserve under Georgia law.
Speak with Our Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers Today
If you sustain serious injuries in vehicle crashes or any other type of accident in the Atlanta area, you want to contact Spaulding Injury Law for assistance. Our Atlanta injury attorneys can advise you of your rights and options, so please call (770) 744-0890 or contact us online for your free case evaluation.