Should You Accept the Insurance Settlement Offer?
Personal Injury Law Firm
Most personal injury cases settle before a trial occurs. Actually, when the injured party hires a personal injury attorney, the pre-trial litigation process is used to reach a higher settlement. A trial can occur in a personal injury case, but more often than not, these cases settle before going to court.
This article describes what you should consider before agreeing to a personal injury settlement. If you have questions about a settlement, talk to a qualified personal injury attorney.
Settlement Offer Before Making a Claim
If you were hurt in a car accident, you and your attorney may inform the defendant that you plan to file a claim unless the defendant compensates you for your injuries. If the claim involves a lot of damages and injuries, it is wise to get legal advice before you accept anything. In some cases, you can pay an experienced attorney an hourly rate to review the settlement offer, rather than paying a contingency fee for a relatively small amount of work.
Who Is Making the Settlement Offer?
Once you have filed a claim, any settlement offer will be made by the defendant or his insurance company. If the other driver has insufficient insurance to cover liability for your claim, you need to know if the defendant has enough money to pay if you win in a trial. If the other person has little cash and assets, you are not going to gain much from going to trial, even if you receive a large damage award.
If the settlement offer from a defendant with no assets or cash is not a lot less than what you could hope to gain after a trial, then settling early could be the best course. That said, if you are determined to punish the defendant for what they did, winning a financial award at trial still could be something you want. Even if the defendant cannot pay, the person could endure bankruptcy and/or serious credit damage.
If the other driver does have adequate insurance to cover your damages, the insurance company usually will control any offers that are made, but not in every case. Unlike a defendant with no insurance or assets, you do not have to worry about the company running out of cash.
When the insurance company is going to pay, the key thing to know is what the policy limits are.
The defendant must pay out of pocket for damage awards that exceed his policy limits. If the policy limit is very low and the defendant has no cash, then a very low settlement offer could be the best you are going to get. If the limit on the policy is high, you do not need to worry about what is available cash wise to pay a damage award.
When Is the Offer Made?
The other major factor to consider before agreeing to a settlement is when the offer is made. If you do not have an attorney and the case has not been developed with discovery, the insurance company probably will make a very low settlement offer. If the insurance company knows you do not have money, expect the offer to be even lower.
But if you are represented by an experienced attorney and the case is well developed, a first settlement offer could be closer to what the damages could be at the end of a trial.
Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
This is a brief summary of the major issues to consider before agreeing to a personal injury settlement. For more information about your specific case, please contact a personal injury law firm New York, NY relies on.
Thanks to Okun, Oddo, & Babat, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and settlement offers.