Insurance companies often make quick and low offers to personal injury victims. It can be tempting to take the quick cash because, for most people, an accident has impacted their finances. To keep you from falling victim to this well-known insurance tactic, I’d like to go through how to respond to an insurance settlement offer.
Why is This Topic Important?
When you've suffered injuries due to someone else's negligence, pursuing fair compensation is crucial for your recovery and well-being. Insurance settlement offers to play a significant role in this process, as they are often the primary means through which you can recover damages.
However, it's important to recognize that insurance companies have a vested interest in minimizing their financial liability. As a result, they may be inclined to make quick, low settlement offers early in the process. If you accept their settlement offer, you will have to sign a waiver forever discharging your rights in the claim—that means decisions on whether to settle your claim are very important.
Why Do Insurance Companies Make Quick Low Offers Early On?
Insurance companies often employ tactics to protect their bottom line. Early low offers serve several purposes:
- Minimize Costs: By offering a quick settlement, the insurance company hopes to pay as little as possible before the full extent of your damages becomes clear.
- Pressure for Quick Acceptance: They may create pressure to accept a fast settlement, hoping that you'll accept a lower amount due to financial strain or lack of information about your rights.
- Avoiding Legal Costs: Settling quickly can help insurance companies avoid the expenses associated with prolonged negotiations or potential legal action.
It's important to remember that initial settlement offers might not adequately cover your expenses and losses, putting you at risk that you will be left with outstanding medical bills or other liabilities from the accident.
1. What is an insurance settlement offer?
An insurance settlement offer is a proposal made by the at-fault partys insurance company to compensate you for your injuries and damages resulting from an accident or incident.
2. Should I accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company?
It's generally advisable not to accept the first settlement offer immediately. Insurance companies often offer low initial settlements to protect their interests. Before accepting, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to assess whether the offer adequately covers your damages.
3. Can I negotiate the settlement offer?
Yes, you can negotiate the settlement offer with the insurance company. Your settlement amount should adequately cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. You can counter-offer offers from the insurance company – and you should!
4. How is the value of my claim determined?
The value of your claim is determined by various factors, including the severity of your injuries, medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and the long-term impact on your life. This can be challenging to know the value of these damages without the assistance of an experienced attorney. However, if you wish to handle your own claim, I would recommend reading my book, Car Accident Cases Made Simple(r), to provide an overview of strategies and tips to help you.
5. What steps should I take before negotiating or accepting a settlement?
Before negotiating or accepting a settlement offer:
- Seek medical treatment and follow your doctor's advice.
- Document all evidence, including medical records, accident reports, and photos.
- Keep records of your expenses, such as medical bills, property damage costs, and any other related expenses.
- Consult with a personal injury attorney to understand your rights and options.
6. How can an attorney help me with an insurance settlement offer?
An attorney can provide invaluable assistance by:
- Evaluating the fairness of the offer and whether it adequately compensates you.
- Negotiating with the insurance company to achieve a better settlement.
- Protecting your rights and ensuring you don't accept an offer that doesn't cover your true damages.
7. What if the insurance company denies liability or offers an unreasonably low settlement?
If the insurance company denies liability or offers a settlement that doesn't reflect your damages, an attorney can help you explore legal options, including filing a lawsuit to seek the compensation you deserve.
8. Can I still file a lawsuit if I reject a settlement offer?
Yes, you can still file a lawsuit even after rejecting a settlement offer. Consulting with a New Mexico personal injury attorney can help you understand the implications of rejecting a settlement and pursuing legal action.
9. Is there a time limit to accept a settlement offer?
While there might not be a specific time limit to accept a settlement offer (there are some exceptions), it's essential to act promptly. Statutes of limitations apply to personal injury cases, so it's crucial to consult an attorney to ensure you meet all necessary deadlines.
Remember that the information provided in this FAQ is intended as general guidance. Every personal injury case is unique, and seeking advice from a qualified New Mexico personal injury attorney is crucial to making informed decisions regarding insurance settlement offers.
Our dedicated personal injury team here at The Injury and Disability Law Center is here to help you. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our office at 575- 300-4000, starting a chat, or filling out our online form.
If you want even more information, download my free book, Car Accident Cases Made Simple(r), where I discuss this topic and more.