Should I Accept a Settlement Offer From an Auto Insurance Company?
A few days after a car accident, it is likely you will hear from the auto insurance company with a settlement offer. Never accept their offer before consulting with legal counsel.
When you have been seriously injured in a car accident, your medical bills are skyrocketing at the same time that you cannot work. A quick offer from the insurance company may look appealing – which is exactly the insurer’s intent. They know you need money, and they would like to settle for as little as possible to close your case. The insurance adjuster may even tell you there is no need to hire a lawyer.
Once you agree to a settlement, the claim is over, even if you later discover that your injuries are more serious than you initially believed them to be.
The experienced New York City car accident lawyers at Douglas and London can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Our lawyers have secured millions for injured clients in settlements and verdicts.
New York No-Fault Laws
Since New York is a no-fault auto insurance state, car accident victims may assume that all of their medical expenses and lost wages are covered. This is not necessarily the case. An insurance adjuster may contact you and offer a small amount to cover your out-of-pocket costs, as long as you waive further policy claims.
That might sound tempting, but it could turn out that you may require substantial funds for future medical treatments. If that is the case, you will be forced to pay for it out of your own pocket.
The First Offer
The first offer by an auto insurance company is almost guaranteed to prove a lowball figure. Insurance adjusters know a certain percentage of accident victims will agree to it, and they will have closed a case with minimal effort and expense. The fact that most of these victims are still recuperating and in pain when they receive that first offer makes them more vulnerable to accepting a low figure.
The truth is that no one knows the real value of their claim without professional legal evaluation. When a person is severely injured, the true extent of their medical expenses won’t be known until they reach “maximum medical improvement,” which is the stage at which your doctor determines that you have reached the ceiling of your recovery and will not likely further improve.
After you hire a personal injury attorney, all negotiations with the insurance adjuster should be conducted by your legal representative. The insurance adjuster should not contact you directly. Your attorney knows a reasonable settlement amount for your individual case. If the insurance company fails to agree to such a settlement, the case can then proceed to court, which is not in the insurance company’s best interests. Overwhelmingly, car accident claims are eventually settled, but there is always the potential for the case to head to trial.
Certain injuries allow the injured party to go outside the no-fault system and file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault entities. In New York, those with certain injuries may file such lawsuits. These include:
- Fetal loss
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent loss of an organ or bodily system
- Significant limitation of a bodily system or function
If the injury is severe enough that the person is disabled for more than 90 days out of 180 days following the accident, he or she may also file a lawsuit.
Contact a New York Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident due to another person’s negligence, it is understandable that you may need money as soon as possible to pay your bills. However, an auto insurance company is determined to pay you as little as possible. Contact the New York City personal injury lawyers at Douglas and London. After evaluating your case and determining whether your claim is valid, we will protect your rights and negotiate fair compensation. We offer free consultations, so schedule an appointment by calling or texting 24/7 or completing our online contact form. There is no fee unless you receive compensation. Hablamos Espanol.