If you receive an offer to settle your accident claim, should you accept it, or should you fight for more? This is a critical question for anyone who has been seriously injured as a result of a product defect or someone else’s negligence. Making the right decision can mean the difference between maximizing your compensation and paying for someone else’s mistake for years to come, and it requires a thorough understanding of the facts and law at hand.
If you are dealing with the insurance companies after an accident, you need to avoid settling too soon. But, you also need to know when a settlement offer is fair in light of the legal issues involved in your case. Before you accept or reject any insurance settlement offer, here are five important considerations to keep in mind:
1. What constitutes “just compensation” in your case?
Do you know the full extent of your losses? In a typical car or truck accident case involving serious injury, the victim’s future losses will far exceed any outstanding medical bills, vehicle repair costs and lost wages. In order to evaluate a settlement offer, you need to have a clear picture of not only what you have lost, but what you stand to lose in the future.
2. Is there more money on the table?
While an insurance company’s first offer will rarely be its best, in many cases there will come a point at which there simply is not any more money to be had. For example, if an insurance company is offering an at-fault driver’s policy limit, this may be the maximum compensation available. On the other hand, if a trucking company or other corporation is legally responsible, there could be significantly more on the table.
3. What are your chances of negotiating a higher settlement? Of winning a verdict at trial?
If you reject an offer, what are your chances of securing a better offer in the future? Or, if the insurance company refuses to go higher, what are your chances of success at trial? If the evidence does not support a larger compensation award, or if the costs of litigating could offset any additional compensation, it may be time to think about settlement.
4. Were you partially at fault in the accident?
In some cases, the insurance companies will claim that accident victims are partially to blame for their own injuries in order to justify low settlement offers. You should never take the insurance companies at their word. Apportioning fault in an accident can extremely complicated, and it requires both a thorough factual investigation and critical legal analysis.
5. How much will you take home if you accept the settlement?
When you receive your settlement, you will need to pay your medical bills, you will need to pay off any pre-settlement loans, you may have to pay income tax, and you will likely have other costs and expenses to pay as well. To make sure you have the money you need now and in the future, you need to know all of the deductions that will come out of your take-home award.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you are dealing with the insurance companies after a collision involving a commercial truck or any other serious accident in the Houston area, we strongly encourage you to speak with our attorneys. To schedule a free consultation with an injury lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP, please call (800) 489-2216 or contact us online today.