Should I Take the First Offer of a Car Accident Settlement?

Should I Take the First Offer of a Car Accident Settlement?

You should think twice before taking the first offer of a car accident settlement. That’s because the insurance company may not have your best interests in mind. It may offer less than you need, hoping you’ll accept and resolve your case quickly. It knows once you sign a waiver of liability, you forfeit the right to request more money later.

When you partner with a car accident lawyer in Myrtle Beach, they can manage all negotiations with the insurance company and evaluate any potential settlement offers. That way, you can make an informed decision when accepting an offer. After a collision, you deserve damages that account for your past, present, and future losses.

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You Should Know Your Damages’ Cost Before Accepting a Car Accident Settlement

You Should Know Your Damages’ Cost Before Accepting a Car Accident Settlement

Before requesting compensation from the liable insurance company, you should know how much your damages cost. This offers a starting point for negotiations. It also gives insight into how much you’re owed for your injury-related losses.

When you work with a lawyer, they can calculate your losses. They do this by considering your:

Economic Damages (or Financial Losses)

Economic damages refer to compensation for objectively verifiable monetary losses. When you incur economic losses, it is crucial to record them. This record can serve as critical evidence when proving the losses you dealt with because of your injuries.

There are many types of economic damages someone could recover.

Common types include but are not limited to:

  • Medical expenses: Your settlement should offer compensation for the healthcare you needed for your injuries. Coverage could account for doctors’ visits, emergency room care, ambulance rides, diagnostic tests, surgeries, and hospitalizations.
  • Rehabilitative care: You can seek recovery for any rehabilitation expenses, such as physical or occupational therapy. Your injuries could require you to undergo these therapies to recover from your injuries.
  • Lost income: You could include any income you lost as a result of your injuries. You can also seek tips, commissions, and more.
  • Property damage expenses: The liable insurance company should offer coverage that accounts for your vehicle’s damage. You shouldn’t have to shoulder the costs of repairs or replacement alone.

When you work with an accident attorney, they can determine the economic damages you could seek compensation for.

Non-Economic Damages (Your Non-Financial Losses)

Non-economic damages refer to compensation for subjective, non-monetary losses. These damages require you or an attorney to determine their values through a formula. They are sometimes more difficult to calculate.

Examples of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering: This compensates the injured party for the physical pain they experienced because of their injuries. If you dealt with physical pain, anguish, discomfort, or inconvenience related to your injuries, you could recover this expense.
  • Emotional distress: You could seek damages for emotional distress if the collision caused you to suffer anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

An attorney can be helpful when calculating damages, especially non-economic damages. Once your legal team determines the value of your losses, they can explain whether the insurance company’s first settlement offer is fair.

Ask Yourself These Questions When Weighing a Possible Settlement Offer

You ideally want to walk away with compensation that accounts for your past, present, and future losses. You don’t want to resolve your case and face out-of-pocket expenses, either.

If you’re considering a settlement offer from the liable insurer, you should ask yourself these questions:

  • How long will my injuries keep me out of work?
  • Do I require in-home help with basic tasks?
  • Will my injuries leave me with a permanent disability?
  • How much do my financial losses cost?
  • What does the liable insurance policy say?
  • Have I already paid for certain injury-related losses?

A car accident lawyer familiar with your situation can provide answers to these (and other) questions. The answers can give you an idea if an insurance company’s offer meets your needs.

The Insurance Company May Not Deal in Good Faith

If the insurance company offers a low settlement after learning about your collision, this is a red flag. It could mean that the insurance company isn’t invested in fairly resolving your case.

Other red flags that the insurer isn’t on your side include:

  • The claims adjuster says that you have a limited time to accept a settlement. This could be a tactic to pressure you into quickly resolving your case.
  • The insurer denies compensation that’s clearly outlined in the liable auto accident policy.
  • The insurer continuously delays your case. It could do this hoping that you’ll find compensation elsewhere and drop your claim.

Many insurance companies prioritize their bottom lines over injured people’s interests. This reason alone is a good idea to consider getting legal help after a car accident.

Considerations After Getting the First Car Accident Settlement Offer

In many cases, the first settlement offer does not account for the full range of a car accident claimant’s losses. Most likely, it is not the highest the insurer will offer, either. Insurers like to start low, hoping to wear out claimants by discouraging them. Yet, there are many steps you can take in the aftermath of an unfair settlement offer.

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Considerations After Getting the First Car Accident Settlement Offer

In many cases, the first settlement offer does not account for the full range of a car accident claimant’s losses. Most likely, it is not the highest the insurer will offer, either. Insurers like to start low, hoping to wear out claimants by discouraging them. Yet, there are many steps you can take in the aftermath of an unfair settlement offer.

You Can Continue Negotiations With the Insurance Company

Here is a brief outline of what you could expect when filing your insurance claim:

  • Your lawyer sends a demand letter, outlining your damages, injuries, and the amount you’re requesting.
  • The insurance company responds with a settlement offer probably less than you need.
  • Your lawyer can use evidence, testimony from field experts, and other information to compel the insurer to reconsider its offer.

The insurance company’s response dictates what happens next. Your lawyer may continue negotiating, or they may consider other options.

You Can File a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Party

If the insurance company fails to offer what you need, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. An attorney can represent you throughout this process. You generally have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you wait too long, you could miss out on your opportunity to recover compensation.

You have options if the liable insurance company doesn’t offer fair compensation. A lawyer can assess your situation and explain more.

You Could Hold Another Insurer Accountable for Your Losses

You may immediately file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, as this is the route that many car accident claimants take. However, after investigating your situation, your lawyer may find that another party bears liability for your losses. For instance, suppose poor roadway conditions contributed to your collision.

You file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer, but it doesn’t offer what you need. In that instance, your lawyer can determine whether filing a claim with a government agency could yield fair compensation. Depending on your situation, you could hold both the at-fault driver’s and government agency’s insurers liable for your losses.

By forgoing legal aid, you could lose key insights that could make or break your personal injury case. If you’re worried about affording a lawyer, it’s worth noting that many work based on contingency fees. This means you can partner with a lawyer without paying anything upfront for their help.

What Happens if I Accept the First Car Accident Settlement Offer?

Accepting the first car accident settlement offer is risky. That’s because, as noted, accepting compensation ends your case.

By accepting less than you need, you risk:

  • Having to pay for certain expenses out of pocket. A car accident can generate thousands of dollars in damages none of which you should pay for. By prematurely settling, you could be stuck with these losses yourself.
  • Being unable to hold the negligent driver accountable. You can’t sue the at-fault driver and request more compensation if you already accepted an insurance settlement. This means the negligent party in your case could never be truly held accountable for their actions.
  • Facing problems in your day-to-day life. You need fair compensation to rebuild your life after a serious car accident. Without those funds, you could fall behind on bills, risk losing your home, and face pressures at work.

A Car Accident Attorney Can Help During Settlement Negotiations

A lawyer with experience managing car accident cases can explain whether you should accept an offer.

Here are some other reasons to consider legal help:

  • A lawyer can investigate the car accident. The first step to recovering compensation is proving liability. Usually, attorneys can determine liability by confirming how the car accident happened. If they can prove the liable party caused your injuries, their insurance company could offer compensation.
  • They can handle negotiating with the insurance company. Attorneys know the tactics and tricks insurance companies use to take advantage of injured people. An attorney can rely on their negotiation skills to secure financial recovery. They can also protect you from bad faith insurance practices that could derail your case.
  • An attorney can handle all of your paperwork. In a personal injury claim, there are a lot of documents that you need to file. When you hire an attorney, they can draft, review, and file all appropriate documents.
  • They can offer support. Getting injured in a car accident is a traumatic event. Having a car accident attorney by your side can provide the support and compassion you need to get through a difficult time.
  • They can represent you in a lawsuit. If you cannot reach a settlement with the insurance company, an attorney can file a lawsuit and represent you. They can take depositions, argue your case in court, and advocate for what you deserve.

When to Consider Hiring a Car Accident Attorney

You can partner with a car accident lawyer at any phase of the claims process, even after the insurance company makes its first settlement offer. Yet, many lawyers want to team up with injured claimants as soon as possible. That way, they have more control over the legal process and what happens.

Still, you should consider legal help if:

  • Your injuries are extremely severe and have left you paralyzed, disabled, or with other negative lifelong impacts. Each of these things can make you incapable of managing a legal case on your own.
  • Your accident involved a government vehicle. These cases are often complicated. That’s because government agencies generally have extensive legal resources.
  • The liable party states that you have shared responsibility for the accident. Successful allegations of fault could affect how much the insurer offers.
  • The car accident involved multiple vehicles. Determining liability when there are multiple vehicles involved takes time and effort. An attorney who has handled many car accident cases can provide guidance on determining liability and seeking compensation from the correct party.
  • You have incurred substantial financial losses. Your monetary losses aren’t something you should take lightly. Another party’s negligence shouldn’t affect your financial security.
  • You incurred non-monetary losses. An attorney can ensure you include all of the non-monetary losses in your claim. They can also calculate their value, so you have an accurate estimate of how much your claim is worth.

You don’t need a specific reason to partner with a car accident lawyer. Even if you just don’t want to deal with insurance companies, hiring an attorney could alleviate your burdens.

You Don’t Have to Take the First Car Accident Settlement Offer

Jeff Morris - Attorney for Car Accident near Myrtle Beach, SC
Jeff Morris, Car Accident Attorney

If you’re unsure about accepting a settlement offer from the insurer, whether it’s the first one, the second one, or allegedly the last one, you have legal options.

You can always consult with a car accident lawyer in Myrtle Beach, SC who can assess your damages’ value and seek what you need.

As noted, many personal injury lawyers offer free case reviews where you can learn about your options. The sooner you partner with an attorney, the sooner you could resolve your case.

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Thank you so much for your advice! I highly recommend him! Mr. Morris was extremely helpful with helping me understand the situation.
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At Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers, we have provided compassionate and aggressive counsel to personal injury victims in Horry County, Aiken County, and throughout South Carolina since 2016. We are available 24/7/365 days of the year. Reach out and get your case evaluated at no cost.