You’ve endured a life-changing injury through no fault of your own. Due to this injury, you may no longer be able to work, and your finances could have started spiraling out of control. Instead of doing the things you once enjoyed, your days are now filled with doctor’s appointments and medical bills.
Plain and simple, your world has been turned upside down. You’ve brought this to the attention of the wrongful party. Now, after many disputes and lots of bargaining, you’ve been offered a settlement for your accident.
It may be tempting, but you may not want to take that settlement just yet. There are some things that you should know before you accept a personal injury settlement.
Considerations for Accepting a Personal Injury Settlement
Now that you’ve been offered a personal injury settlement, it’s time to sit down and think about it. In this situation, it is always best to contact your lawyer and assess the situation with a legal professional before accepting the offer outright.
What You Need to Understand
Even though you have a copy of the settlement in your hand, you shouldn’t rejoice just yet. There are a few things that you need to understand before you decide to accept a settlement:
- Even if you reject an offer, you still have the right to receive a fair settlement. You can still seek a settlement that more closely meets your needs. If an insurance company tells you that your options are limited, remember that this is not necessarily a confirmation that you cannot receive what you need. Insurance companies have their own interests, and are looking to pay out as little as possible.
- Injuries don’t simply go away. Some may even last a lifetime. Nevertheless, an insurance company will make you an offer based on their assessment at this moment. They may not consider what ongoing or extensive treatment you’ll need (e.g., multiple surgeries, wound care, therapy) and will skew toward the least required payment possible.
- Your financial status will quickly change. Due to the accident, you may be out of work and may be unable to return to work. Not only will this loss of income affect your entire life now, but it’ll affect your future too. This should be a major factor in your decision.
Questions You Need to Ask Yourself
Once you’re sure that you understand what’s being offered in the settlement, it’s time to consider whether it’s right for you. There are several factors you’ll want to consider here. Take your time and ask yourself some questions:
- Do you have an attorney? You should never try to deal with the insurance company alone. Research shows that doing so often results in much less compensation.
- Have you fully recovered from the accident? If you haven’t fully recovered, you may still have a lot of medical expenses ahead of you. Don’t settle a claim without knowing all of your medical costs both now and in the future.
- How much are your pain and suffering worth? While it’s essential to ensure that your settlement includes economic damages, you also need to consider non-economic damages (e.g., pain, suffering, mental distress, reduced quality of life).
- Did you file a lawsuit? While this isn’t necessary, NOLO discovered that filing a lawsuit is beneficial. When you file a lawsuit, an insurance company is forced to take your case more seriously and must spend time gathering evidence that could strengthen your case.
- Did you try negotiating a fair settlement? You shouldn’t feel compelled to accept the first offer you’re given. You may be entitled to better compensation if you show the insurance company that you’re willing to negotiate.
- Is this offer better than what you’d receive by going to trial? Although you may wish to avoid a trial, it isn’t always possible to do so. Sometimes going to trial is to your benefit because the jury will potentially award you far better compensation. You should make this decision with help from your attorney.
- Do you feel like you’ve been heard? Take a moment to consider whether you feel the insurance adjuster heard what you were saying. They should have spent time discussing how every aspect of your life has been changed by the accident. If not, chances are they aren’t offering you a fair settlement.
- Will all of your medical bills be covered? Since someone else’s fault caused your medical expenses, they shouldn’t be able to deny treatment or tell you that they’re only paying a set amount. However, it’s in the insurance company’s best interest to offer you the lowest payout possible. Remember, you don’t have to accept it and you do have options.
- What does your future hold? You need to consider how long it’ll take to fully recover from your injury if a full recovery is even possible. Make sure that the settlement you’re receiving is sufficient compensation for both now and in the future.
Talk to an Attorney Before Accepting a Personal Injury Settlement
Filing a personal injury lawsuit doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience, itself. When faced with the burden of having to choose this option, a personal injury attorney is your best bet.
If you find yourself in this position, contact the attorneys at Hann Law. We will help you in your time of need and we will fight to help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.