A car accident can throw your life into chaos. It can be tempting to take the first offer the insurance company gives you and get back to your life. But before you accept a car accident settlement offer, there are several things to consider.
First, know that you can reject any settlement offer from the insurance company and still get compensation. Insurance companies like to tell you that their settlement offer is final and non-negotiable. Nonsense. Any experienced car accident attorney can tell you that the first settlement offer is the beginning of the negotiation process. Insurance companies want to give you as little money as possible and as quickly as possible before you hire an attorney.
In most cases, you are wise to reject the first accident settlement offer from the insurance company. The company knows if the case goes to trial, they probably will pay more, so use that to your advantage.
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Second, all car accident settlement agreements are final and binding. Every agreement has a release of liability. This means that the auto insurance company is not responsible for paying you anything more outside the settlement agreement. You cannot come back a month later and ask for more money and you cannot sue.
That is true even if you discover later that your injuries are far worse than you thought. You should not even consider settling until you are certain that you are fully recovered from the car accident.
Third, your injuries could be worse than they appear at first. You might think that you only have a sore neck the day after the accident. But a week later, the pain has gotten worse. It could turn out you have a ruptured disc in your neck. But because you took the quick settlement, you are stuck with the medical bills and lost wages arising from the more serious injury.
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Before you accept a car accident settlement, you should know how your injuries will affect your life, overall health, and future employment. You also need to understand what level of ongoing care or treatment you will need because of the accident. Do not accept a settlement offer before you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), which only your doctor can determine.
Fourth, the total cost of your car accident is more than your out-of-pocket expenses. Many settlement offers only include money for repairs, immediate lost wages, and medical costs not covered by your health insurance. They rarely cover the full cost of your accident. There are many other things you could need to be compensated for:
- Vehicle repairs
- Replacement services for duties in the house you cannot perform, such as shopping, cooking, cleaning up the yard, caring for children, etc.
- Medical costs in the future
- Lost earnings in the future
- Mental health treatment for serious accident trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
As a car accident victim, it is important that you understand the value of everything that accident compensation should cover, before you consider a settlement offer.
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