Insurance companies are businesses with one main goal: To make a profit. That means they aren’t always looking out for your best interests, especially after an accident. This principle often leads insurers to make offers that don’t fully compensate you for your injuries and losses.
The Harris Keenan & Goldfarb team believes in the power of knowledge. This is especially true when dealing with insurance companies. You should think twice before saying “yes” to an insurance company’s settlement.
What Constitutes a Fair Insurance Settlement?
In the wake of an accident, victims often face mounting medical bills, lost wages, and a whirlwind of emotions. An insurance settlement can offer a respite from these burdens. But how do you determine whether the insurance company’s settlement offer is fair? A reasonable settlement should comprehensively address several critical aspects of any accident or injury:
- Medical Expenses: This is often the most tangible and immediate cost following an injury. A fair settlement should cover past medical bills and anticipated future expenses related to the injury. These include rehabilitation, therapy, and any necessary surgeries.
- Lost Wages: If an injury forces a plaintiff to take time off work or, worse still, prevents them from returning to work entirely, a settlement must include compensation for these lost wages.
- Pain and Suffering: It’s challenging to put a dollar value on emotional distress or physical pain. But it’s an essential component of any settlement.
- Property Damage: If the incident resulted in damaged property, the cost of repairing or replacing it should be part of the settlement.
- Permanent Disability or Disfigurement: If an injury leads to permanent disability or significant disfigurement, it’s crucial to consider the lifelong implications of these conditions. A fair settlement will factor in the long-term effects on quality of life, ability to work, and the costs of assistive devices or treatments.
- Out-of-Pocket Costs: Sometimes, miscellaneous costs are associated with an injury. These can include hiring help around the house and paying for transportation to medical appointments. Though sometimes overlooked, these costs are real and should be included in a settlement.
Reasons to Reject an Insurer’s Settlement Offer
While every personal injury case has unique elements, there are some common situations in which the smart move is to reject the insurance company’s offer. Those situations include:
- Insufficient Medical Evaluation: If you receive an offer before a comprehensive medical evaluation, accepting an insurer’s offer is premature. Injuries, especially those from accidents, can have delayed symptoms. Accepting an early offer could mean you are not compensated for late-appearing complications.
- Not Considering Future Costs: An offer that only compensates you for current medical bills without considering future treatments, surgeries, or therapies might be inadequate. Always think long-term when assessing a settlement offer.
- Disregarding Intangible Losses: Pain, suffering, emotional distress, and a reduced quality of life are all valid losses. This is true even if they don’t come with a straightforward price tag. If an offer doesn’t account for these non-specific costs, think twice before accepting it.
- Low-Ball Offers: It’s common for insurance companies to test the waters with an offer far lower than what’s reasonable, hoping you’ll accept. If an offer seems too low, it probably is.
- Pressure to Settle Quickly: If an insurance company is pressing you to make a hasty decision or is hurrying the process, this could be a red flag. They might be trying to get you to settle before you realize the full extent of your losses.
- Lack of Legal Counsel: If you’re negotiating without guidance from a personal injury attorney, the insurance company might perceive you as an easier target for a lower settlement. Before accepting any offer, it’s always wise to consult with a lawyer who can assess the true value of your claim.
What Happens If You Reject an Insurance Company’s Offer?
When you turn down an insurer’s proposal, it typically leads to further negotiations. Mediation might be the next step, as it’s an informal way to reach an agreement. However, if a solution remains elusive, the next step could be filing a personal injury lawsuit and initiating a legal process culminating in a court trial. While there’s potential for a higher financial award throughout the lawsuit process, it’s essential to be prepared for a longer timeframe before your case concludes.
With more than $500 million in compensation recovered for our clients, the Harris Keenan & Goldfarb team has the drive, experience, and skill set to help you reach a fair settlement. Call 800-724-6529 today or complete our contact form for a free case review.