Once you have received an initial offer, and you have gone through the settlement process with the at-fault party’s insurance company for your personal injury claim, you will have some serious decisions to make. At the end of the day, if you cannot reach a settlement amount that both parties feel is reasonable, you will end up with a car accident lawsuit. At that point, an attorney would become essential, that is why most injured parties opt to hire an attorney much earlier in the process. That way, you can avoid all the headache, and have an experienced party on your side who can counsel you every step of the way.
Deciding whether or not you should accept a compromise as a settlement offer depends on a variety of factors. While only the victim has the right to decide whether or not to settle, an experienced personal injury attorney would typically advise you to settle if the offer is close to the amount that you are after. If the offer is not even close and is completely unacceptable, then an attorney would typically not accept the offer and would instead file formal litigation on that particular case. There are alternatives to litigation. Both parties could agree to go through mediation or arbitration. Those are less costly and may lead to a fair outcome. However, those decisions are not binding so they may just end up adding more cost and dragging out the settlement process even more than it already has been.
When you don’t have any idea how your case would come out if it were tried, you will have difficulty making a good decision about whether or not to accept a compromised settlement offer. You may want to consider how the insurance company is arriving at their number based on the process of how they calculate car accident settlements.
Negotiations require one to be stern, yet reasonable, tough, and yet fair. The sad reality is that time is money, injury victims often feel pressed to accept a settlement lower than the amount they really think their case is worth if they can get that amount quickly. If you are not in financial hardship, and can afford to wait, it will typically result in a higher settlement. Most injury victims do not feel that they have the luxury of time.
If an attorney were involved, the offer would certainly be much more than just the amount of the medical bills, but if the settlement amount is enough to pay all of the medical bills, accepting settlement at least becomes an option. Before accepting the compromised amount, keep the following in mind:
- At least be sure to make it to their final offer.
- Never accept the first offer on the table.
- Counteroffer a much higher number than what you want.
- Make sure that their amount moves from their initial offer.
- Ask questions like, “is that the highest number you are authorized to give me to avoid going to court?”
If you know the law, you document everything, you represent your interests well, and you negotiate masterfully, you may be able to feel comfortable taking a settlement offer. If you are lacking in any of those areas, or would like to avoid the heartache, you may want to consider consulting with an experienced auto-accident attorney.
This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.