When an insurance company quickly offers to settle your personal injury case, they should know what your case is worth and you should just take it, right?
Probably not. There are three reasons why jumping at the first settlement offer is almost never a good idea:
- You Don’t Know the Full Extent of Your Damages
If your injuries are recent, it is likely that you have not completed your accident-related medical care, which takes time. Medical providers routinely employ non-invasive treatment such as medication, massage, physical therapy, or pain management, and see if that is effective before they consider recommending more expensive (and invasive) procedures such as steroid injections and surgery. When you take the first offer, you likely won’t get enough money to cover the cost of future medical treatment.
- You Need to Decide on an Acceptable Settlement Amount
Before you consider any offers from insurance companies, you should decide on a minimum settlement figure you will accept, based upon your economic and non-economic damages, wage loss, the impact your injury may have on your future earning capacity, and your attorney’s advice. This figure will guide you throughout the negotiation process and help you obtain a fair settlement.
- The First Offer is Usually Low
Regardless of your damages, an insurance adjuster’s first offer is usually extremely low and sometimes merely a tactic to see if you and your attorney know what your case is worth. If the offer is somewhat reasonable but a little low, this might be a sign that the adjuster is motivated to settle the case, a situation that will allow your attorney to counteroffer and work toward a fair settlement.
If an insurance company seems too willing to settle your claim and is pressuring you to accept a lowball figure, you may need to resist the temptation of settling too soon – for too little.