Should I Accept the First Compensation Offer?

Should I Accept the First Compensation Offer?

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Should I Accept the First Compensation Offer?

Insurance companies offer settlements when they’ve received enough information about the case to make a relative judgment about the compensation for your injuries. Just because the insurance company has told you this number, however, doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

Accepting the first offer could cost you valuable financial support when you get hurt in an accident. There’s so many other things related to your accident that you may by handling that you might overlook the opportunity to protect yourself and respond with a counteroffer. 

After you are seriously hurt in an accident, one of your first steps will be to communicate with the insurance company on your end to let them know that you have suffered in an accident. Your insurance company or the other party's insurance company may get involved in this process of helping you to recover compensation.

For most people going through an accident they assume that the insurance company will be there to help them and so it can be frustrating or even shocking to realize that the insurance company has not got through the potential impacts of your case or made a fair settlement offer. The truth is that the insurance company is out to represent their best interests and not yours. Even if you have been a paying customer for years, this is no guarantee that you will recover full and fair compensation. 

In these circumstances you will want a lawyer to help you to understand your rights and to avoid some of the common pitfalls in responding to an insurance company's offer. It is all too often the case that the first compensation offer from the insurance company does not fully cover all of your interests or compensate you for the injuries you have sustained. 

The insurance company might even lowball this offer and rush you to accept the compensation offer quickly so that the matter can be closed out on their end. However, you don't know what your compensation offer is or how to consult with an experienced attorney until you have had the experience of speaking with a lawyer and determining your next steps. Most people going through an accident want to know that they've retained a dedicated lawyer who can advise them about every aspect of their case.

What Is a Compensation Offer?

When you contact your insurance company to let them know you have been hurt in an accident, they might ask for information like your medical records from your injury treatment and details about property damage to your vehicle. These are certainly important as they tell part of the story of how the accident happened and how it affected you but they often do not paint the full picture of how the accident changed your life. This is why you must be prepared to work with an experienced attorney if the first compensation offer presented to you does not cover all of your accident injuries and needs. The sooner that you can speak with a personal injury lawyer about your first compensation offer the better a position you will be in to move forward. Your lawyer will evaluate the same information that the insurance company does but with an eye towards the future. 

The insurance company might only be seeing your case from the perspective of the present time as in how many injuries and damages have you already sustained as a victim. This leaves the important consideration of long term care problems and other expenses like lost wages out of the picture entirely. Only when you hire a lawyer early on within your case will you be able to get the support of someone who is on your side in this situation and who can represent your interests from the beginning. 

Your lawyer, for example, might tell you that the first compensation offer presented by the insurance company is far too low considering the expenses you will need to take on for the remainder of your life. Perhaps you need rehabilitation and physical therapy to treat the injuries caused by the accident and the insurance company has only included a computation for those costs for a few years. A lawyer can help you to prepare a compelling case illustrating why that is incorrect and why your full and fair compensation should include a greater time period of payment for these medical costs. Most people in this situation are unaware of the full scope of their rights and could inadvertently block themselves from getting the compensation they deserve. This is not your fault as you would have no context for going through the legal system in your state to recover compensation for an injury until this point. This is a big reason to retain an experienced personal injury lawyer who has been there before and who can give you powerful insight about what to anticipate and how to respond to a settlement offer.

Do I Have to Take a First Settlement Offer?

You are not required to take a first settlement offer in any personal injury case. Remember your insurance company is a business and may be primarily concerned about protecting their bottom line. You should always speak to a car accident attorney first to understand the possible benefits of accepting a first compensation offer as well as the challenges. 

If you accept a settlement offer, the paperwork likely requires that you waive any further rights to file a legal claim or ask for additional compensation. This is because the compensation offer from the insurance company is considered to be inclusive of all injuries you currently have and those that you could develop in the future associated with the accident. Now you can see why it's so important that this information be calculated properly because you could wind up losing out on important compensation benefits. 

Take your time to read through the compensation offer and discuss it directly with your lawyer. This will give you a better perspective on whether or not this is indeed fair and your lawyer can help you determine what evidence will be presented and in what order to show the insurance company why this is not a full or fair settlement offer. Do not hesitate to consult with an experienced and dedicated lawyer about your case. Making mistakes, such as signing the first compensation offer blocks you from getting the compensation you need to move forward in your life. Thankfully, having legal representation brought into your case sooner rather than later can make it much easier for you to answer the question “Should I accept the first compensation offer?” The first compensation offer is usually low because the insurance company is hoping that this lump sum payment seems tempting to you in the moment. Giving this up could block you from getting the full support that you need and when it's important to your family, this is a good next step.

What Happens if I Don’t Accept the First Offer? 

If you decide not to accept the first settlement offer because it is not enough money, you can also consult with your attorney and make a counteroffer. This does not end the negotiations, but rather responds to the insurance company's suggestion with an amount that you feel is more fair based on your individual injuries. You should be prepared to support this claim with additional evidence, but if your attorney has already done the legwork to help you know how to respond to the first settlement offer, you will probably already have this information prepared.

Once you send back a counter offer, the insurance company has time to review it. They will consider any additional information or counter-arguments you make during that period. From there, they can accept the counteroffer, respond again with another number, or you end up in a possible stalemate. In that situation, you want to have your lawyer ready to go to trial if necessary. 

Bear in mind that does not mean that you are wrong if the insurance company refuses to accept your counter settlement offer. Instead, This is an opportunity to continue conversations and negotiations with the help of your personal injury lawyer. In the event that you were unable to come to terms of agreement, the case will proceed to trial as originally planned. 

Remember that your case can settle at any point before or during trial. In some cases, the other side may be compelled to come forward with an additional settlement offer after hearing evidence from your expert witnesses or senior attorneys' presentation in court. In other cases, the judge might recommend that you all revisit the possibility to settle again rather than continuing to proceed through Court. Any event if you are not able to reach any settlement offers, however, the case will be evaluated by the court and a final decision rendered. This is why you need the right lawyer who knows what to do if you decide not to accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company after your accident. 

Don’t hesitate to get started. Contact the experts at Morgan & Morgan today for a free case evaluation to take your first steps toward settling your insurance offer.

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