SHOULD I ACCEPT THE FIRST SETTLEMENT OFFER AFTER MY CAR ACCIDENT?

If you haven't been fortunate enough to emerge unscathed from your car accident, you're likely dealing with the daunting prospect of medical bills, car repairs, lost income, and any other financial losses stemming from your car accident. You've probably filed an insurance claim with the hope that the payment you receive from the insurance company will substantially enable you to get back on your feet sooner rather than later. But before speeding straight ahead and accepting the first settlement offered by the insurance company, you should ask yourself, is this an offer I should accept?

Always keep in mind that the goal of an insurance agent is to save the insurance company as much money as possible on your car accident claim. Because of this, chances are that the first offer thrown your way will be a low-ball offer that the insurance company is hoping you're naive enough to accept.

How can you tell whether a settlement offer is fair? The following are a few tips that may help you

spot red flags with a settlement offer you receive from an insurance company.

1. The insurance company makes a settlement offer fast. A settlement offer shouldn't be made before a reasonable time to thoroughly investigate your claim has passed. Before making a settlement offer, an insurance company should consider all the evidence relevant to your claim. The insurance company should also give you an opportunity to provide any pertinent evidence that you may have relating to your claim. If you receive a shotgun settlement offer, the insurance company may be trying to fast-track you into accepting an offer and waiving your right to sue before you've had an opportunity to do your research or contact a lawyer.

2. The insurance company attempts to pressure or intimidate you into accepting the settlement offer. After extending a settlement offer, the insurance company should give you a reasonable time to consider the offer and consult with a lawyer. If the insurance company attempts to pressure or intimidate you into accepting the settlement offer quickly, you may want to hold off on accepting the offer until after you’ve talked to a lawyer.

3. The insurance company will not explain the settlement offer or stops communicating with you. You should be able to ask questions and receive answers explaining how the insurance company arrived at the settlement amount offered to you. If the insurance company won't or can't justify the basis for the settlement offer or stops communicating with you outright, you can probably take that as a sign that the offer is less than fair.

What can you do to help make sure that you don't fall victim to an unfair low settlement offer?

1. Do your homework on your claim. You probably shouldn't accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company, at least not before you've had time to thoroughly evaluate your claim and consider your immediate and long-term financial needs. Remember, what may initially seem to be a minor injury could snowball later and detrimentally impact your future health and livelihood. Take the time to critically evaluate your claim and calculate your immediate and long-term damages resulting from the car accident.

2. Know your rights. A settlement offer is the start of the negotiation process. As part of the negotiation process, you are within your rights to reject a settlement offer and make a counteroffer. However, you want to make sure that you can backup your counteroffer with a thorough understanding of your claim, the evidence supporting your claim, the value of your claim, and the claims process.

3. Consult with a lawyer. An experienced lawyer will know the advantages and shortcomings of your claim and, by extension, when and how a settlement offer should be accepted, countered, or rejected. If it means you're taking a step toward future financial peace, you may want to consider taking advantage of a free or nominal cost consultation with a lawyer before accepting the insurance company's settlement offer for your car accident claim. If you would like to talk with me about the settlement offer you received or have another legal question you want answered, feel free to reach out and contact me at 833.528.7846 or click the link below.

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