How to Decline a Settlement Offer in Court

How to Decline a Settlement Offer in Court

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How to Decline a Settlement Offer in Court

Did you know that you don't have to accept a settlement offer from an insurer? If you disagree with the offer, you can decline it. However, rejecting a settlement offer isn't as simple as saying, “Sorry, I won't accept it.” Instead, before rejecting a settlement offer, it's important to think through this decision.

The primary reason for rejecting such an offer is that it does not meet your needs. In other words, you believe that you may be entitled to more than what the other party has offered. However, while attorneys can help you negotiate a better offer, they must also be realistic.

You've probably read or heard that having an attorney significantly increases your chances of settling the case. That's correct. But what most people won't tell you is that attorneys can't work miracles.

They can't make the other party pay you an unreasonable amount of money. For example, if your injury is worth $10,000, having an attorney doesn't mean the other party will agree to pay $1,000,000 for the same injury. Rather, the whole point of having an attorney is to maximize your claim.

This means that the attorney can help ensure you receive compensation for everything you're entitled to based on your injuries. It doesn't mean that you'll recover what you're not entitled to. This explains why the insurance company will want you to provide sufficient evidence for every claim you make. For example, if you claim medical expenses, you must be able to provide evidence, such as medical receipts, to prove your claim.

Another thing you need to know is that once you reject a settlement offer, the offer is considered 'dead'. You can't go back to reclaim the offer when you change your mind. This is the primary reason we mentioned that you need to think through things before rejecting an offer.

While accepting the initial offer is never advisable (because it's usually lower than what you're entitled to), you shouldn't rush to reject it. Instead, you need to seek legal counsel before making such a decision.

Rejecting a Settlement Offer in Court

The process of rejecting a settlement offer in court varies depending on the jurisdiction. As mentioned earlier, this isn't something you should dare take on without the help of a legal representative. It's quite easy to make certain irreversible mistakes, jeopardizing your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries.

All the insurance company needs to do is tell the court that you rejected the initial offer. When that happens, you'll bear the blame if you didn't think through things before declining the offer.

Always consult with an experienced attorney to help you handle this process. Such an attorney knows the tactics insurance companies use to deny injury victims the kind of settlement they need and deserve. Additionally, these attorneys know that injury victims who don't have legal representation are likely to make mistakes along the way. As mentioned earlier, rejecting a settlement offer without consulting an attorney is a good example of such a mistake.

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  • How Can an Attorney Help?

    When you hire an attorney to review the settlement offer, they'll help determine the following:

    Whether the Offer is Reasonable

    Insurance companies usually provide unreasonable settlement offers as a tactic to help avoid paying what they owe. This is because they make money by minimizing the amount they pay to injury victims.

    If they pay you what you truly deserve, they'll not make as much profit as they hope to. It doesn't matter if you've been paying your premiums promptly; insurance companies will always prioritize their interests. In this case, their interest is to ensure they pay you the lowest amount possible, keeping the rest as profits.

    That said, it's also not advisable to assume that every settlement offer you receive from an insurance company is unreasonable. An experienced attorney can help determine whether or not the insurance company's offer is what you deserve. To do this, the attorney will review certain factors, including your insurance policy.

    This applies mostly when filing a claim against your own insurer. For instance, if you live in a no-fault state like Florida, you must first file a claim with your insurer after a car accident.

    This is because all Florida drivers must have Personal Injury Protection insurance. This insurance covers their medical bills, caregiving costs, and other related expenses if injured in a car accident, regardless of who's at fault.

    Here's an introduction to “no-fault” states.

    However, there's a catch; PIP insurance may not proceed past a certain limit, depending on the specific coverage you purchase. To put things into perspective, Florida drivers must have at least $10,000 worth of personal injury protection. Therefore, if you get injured in a car accident and decide to file a PIP insurance claim with your provider and you have the base coverage ($10,000 in this case), the company won't settle for anything more than that amount.

    In other words, you can't claim compensation that's more than your coverage limit. Such a claim is considered unreasonable.

    If the insurance provider provides a lowball offer, it's also considered unreasonable. For example, let's say you're entitled to $9,000 as compensation for your injuries. It's unreasonable for the insurance company to write you a check for $100.

    Whether You Can Prove That You're Entitled to a Better Offer

    It's not enough to claim that the initial offer is unreasonable. Instead, you'll need to prove that you're entitled to more. Again, that's something a seasoned attorney can help with.

    To do this, your attorney will review the nature of your injury. Then, they will establish a monetary value for your damages. This will also depend on the nature of your injuries. For example, if you got injured in a car accident in Florida, your PIP insurance will only pay for damages such as:

    • Medical expenses
    • Lost wages
    • Caregiving costs
    • Ambulance bills
    • Emergency room charges

    And so on.

    Therefore, you may be unable to recover damages such as pain and suffering through your PIP coverage. However, you may be able to recover these damages by filing a separate claim with the other driver's insurance provider.

    The attorney will help build a strong case on your behalf. As mentioned earlier, you can't just say that you won't accept a settlement offer without providing a counteroffer. Similarly, a counteroffer shouldn't be just a random figure to which you feel you are entitled as compensation for your injuries. Instead, it should be evidence-based, and that's where an attorney comes in. They will help collect the evidence you need to file a reasonable counteroffer with the insurer.

    Whether the Insurance Provider Is Acting Out of Bad Faith

    Some insurance companies won't settle a claim when they know they should. It won't matter how much evidence you provide to prove your injuries - the insurance company won't just settle. That's what is considered acting out of bad faith.

    A seasoned attorney understands the kind of tactics insurance companies use to avoid settling valid claims. For this reason, the attorney can evaluate your case to determine whether the insurer is acting out of bad faith. And if they are, the lawyer will know the most appropriate action against the insurer.

    It's also important to note that some insurance companies might refuse to settle a claim for valid reasons. This doesn't mean they're acting out of bad faith. For example, if you're partly at fault for the accident, the insurer might refuse to settle your claim.

    In such a case, the attorney will reach out to the insurance company to negotiate a reasonable settlement. If the insurer still won't settle, the attorney might decide to file a lawsuit.

    Remember, you may still be able to recover damages even if you're partly at fault for an accident. This is because most states follow the comparative negligence doctrine when it comes to these kinds of accidents.

    Once the attorney has confirmed that the settlement offer is unreasonable, they'll help you draft a response to the offer. The rejection letter will include the following elements:

    Reason for Rejection

    The attorney will explain why the offer is unreasonable. For example, the claims adjuster made certain errors in their appraisal.

    Suggest a Counteroffer

    Your attorney will also provide an offer they believe is reasonable for the kind of injury you sustained. As mentioned earlier, rejecting a settlement offer without a counteroffer isn't good enough.

    Explain Why the Counteroffer Is Reasonable

    The attorney will explain why they feel that their counteroffer is reasonable. They may also provide copies of receipts as evidence.

  • Can I File a New Claim After Agreeing to a Settlement Offer From the Insurer?

    In most cases, you can't file a new claim for that same incident if you accept the settlement offer. Once you accept the offer, you'll be required to sign a release of settlement agreement. This agreement states that you've accepted the offer from the insurer and will not seek further legal action against them regarding that particular case.

    This also explains why it's important to have an attorney review the offer before you respond. The only way you may be able to file a new claim is if you can prove that the insurance company committed fraud or misled you into agreeing to the initial offer. But it's usually difficult to prove such a case, and it's better to be safe than sorry.

  • Where Can I Find an Experienced Attorney to Review the Settlement Offer?

    While many personal injury attorneys can handle these kinds of cases, it's always advisable to work with those who understand the specifics of your case. That's where Morgan and Morgan comes in.

  • How Can Morgan and Morgan Personal Injury Attorneys Help?

    Personal injury laws are broad. For this reason, each case requires a unique approach. For example, the settlement offer for wrongful death isn't the same as that of a product liability case where the victim lost a finger.

    At Morgan and Morgan, we have an army of over 800 personal injury attorneys. Our attorneys are experienced in different areas of personal injury. They know what settlement offer is reasonable and what isn't.

    That's the benefit of working with a powerful personal injury law firm. Whether you have a case of product liability, wrongful death, car accident, medical malpractice, or anything along those lines, our attorneys can help calculate the most reasonable settlement offer and back it up with evidence.

    Lastly, you need attorneys who have your best interests at heart. Unfortunately, that's not always easy to find in the world of personal injury. Some attorneys may only be interested in closing a case and adding it to their list of success stories.

    At Morgan and Morgan, we're different. We don't settle for less. If the settlement is unreasonable and the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate, they'll see us in court.

    If you've received an unreasonable settlement offer from an insurance company, you shouldn't rush to reject it. Instead, contact Morgan and Morgan right away. We might be able to help.

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