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Why You Shouldn’t Accept the First Settlement After a Car Accident

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The aftermath of a car accident is a tumultuous time. Injury victims face the prospect of medical treatments for their injuries and time away from work while they recover. At the same time, their vehicle may require extensive repairs or replacement. In the midst of this chaotic time, insurance companies commonly reach out to a car accident victim with a settlement offer. It may be tempting to quickly accept the offer so you don’t have to worry about funding medical care, car repairs, or a replacement vehicle. But should a car accident victim accept the first settlement offered by the insurance company of the at-fault driver?

Unfortunately, many car accident victims make the mistake of accepting an early settlement offer from the insurance company, only to regret it later when the cost of their damages exceeds the amount they accepted in their settlement.

Why Do Insurance Companies Make Fast Settlement Offers After Car Accidents?

It’s important to keep in mind that insurance companies are not on your side after an accident, even if their representatives sound compassionate over the phone. Typically you are speaking to an insurance adjuster assigned to your case for the primary purpose of protecting company profits at your expense. Insurance adjusters understand the trepidation car accident victims face in the early days after an accident while they are dealing with painful injuries and property damage. The insurance adjusters know that a car accident victim may accept anything that feels like a lifeline in the turmoil. Sadly, they almost always undervalue the claim in a first offer. They intentionally reach out with a first settlement offer early so the victim accepts the offer before they know the full scope of the damages they are facing. “Damages” in a car accident claim include medical expenses, lost income, future income loss, and compensation for pain and suffering.

In the early days after an accident, the injury victim may have little understanding of how long their recovery will take, how much work they will miss, what medical treatments and rehabilitation will be necessary, and even whether or not they’re facing a permanent partial or total disability. It’s beneficial to wait until the full extent of the damages is clear before accepting a settlement.

A First Settlement Offer Usually Requires Signing Away the Right to Pursue Further Compensation

By accepting the first offer, the injury victim also signs away the right to a lawsuit. They are unable to return later and seek further compensation once they know the true extent of the damages they are facing. When another driver’s negligent or reckless action behind the wheel causes an accident, injury victims have a right to file a lawsuit if the at-fault party’s insurance company fails to offer a reasonable settlement amount for their damages. By accepting the first settlement offer, the injury victim forgoes this right.

A first settlement offer should serve as the starting point for negotiations between the injury victim’s attorney and the insurance company. Once a skilled St. Louis car accident attorney has documented evidence of the at-fault driver’s liability and carefully calculated a list of the victim’s economic and non-economic damages, they begin negotiating for the largest possible settlement amount for their client.

Most car accident claims are resolved through settlements, but an attorney will file a lawsuit if necessary to recover full compensation for a car accident victim’s damages through a jury award.

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Call the Floyd Law Firm Before You Accept a Settlement After a Car Accident

No car accident victim with significant injuries should accept an early settlement after a car accident without experienced representation. Not only are these fast offers typically substantially less than the victim is entitled to recover, but some injuries do not present symptoms until days or even weeks after the accident. A car accident victim should undergo a thorough medical evaluation after the accident and hire a personal injury attorney from the Floyd Law Firm to protect their rights before accepting a settlement.