Know When to Accept Your Insurance Company's Offer After a Car Accident
Summary: The New York City attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers suggest those injured in car accidents do not accept the first offer from an insurer. It is best to determine the value of all damages, including future medical costs for not only physical injuries but pain and suffering as well, and lost wages. Once a damage amount is calculated, then an injured person is better able to understand a reasonable amount for a settlement offer.
When you’ve been injured in a crash, especially when your injuries are serious, you probably have a big pile of medical bills stacking up. You might have missed time at work, and consequently, lost income. You may also have experienced significant property damage.
You’ve filed a claim with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company for your damages. But with all the expenses you’ve already incurred and possible future expenses you may have because of your accident, how do you know when to accept an insurance company’s settlement offer?
Don’t Accept the First Offer
A good general rule is not to accept the first offer you receive. Insurance companies will often seek to pay out as little money as possible, so will usually give you their lowest offer first, hoping you’ll accept it. Instead of accepting it, however, you might think of this offer as a starting point for negotiations, especially if the offer doesn’t come close to fairly compensating you for your damages.
Determining Your Damages
How do you know how much money to try and negotiate for your damages? Keep a damages file to track all the expenses related to your accident and injuries. Depending on the extent of your injuries, the process of determining an actual damage amount can be relatively simple or can be quite complicated.
For example, if your injuries were more minor and involved a couple of doctor’s visits, a day or two lost at work, and some bodywork done on your car, it’s fairly easy to quantify your damages. You can add up the doctor’s bills, the repair bill and the wages you lost and come up with a damage figure.
When injuries are more severe, however, your damages may include both quantifiable and less easy to quantify losses, such as:
- Medical bills from multiple medical providers
- Lost income from days you’ve already missed at work
- Possible future medical costs for treatments related to your injuries
- Possible future lost income if you are disabled and can no longer work or if your work will be limited
- Significant property damage.
Additionally, you may also suffer stress, anxiety, physical pain and an overall reduced quality of life because of the accident. You might seek compensation for this “pain and suffering” in your damage claim. As you can imagine, it can be hard to place a dollar value on pain and suffering. It is also difficult to look into the future and figure out what medical treatment you might need or how much income you stand to lose.
Consider Skilled Legal Assistance
For these reasons, it can be a good idea to have an experienced car accident attorney review your case. Working with an attorney will ensure you won’t overlook any damages, and a skilled attorney can help you more precisely calculate your less easily quantifiable losses. An attorney can also be your advocate and handle negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf, which often results in higher settlement amounts. They can guide you in deciding when you should accept an insurance settlement offer. If you don’t receive a fair settlement offer from the insurer, your attorney can file a personal injury claim through the courts
If you decide to seek out the services of an attorney, look for one in the state where you live. In the New York City area are the experienced and skilled attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers, P.C. Insurance laws are highly complex and vary greatly between states. And if you live in one of the no-fault insurance states, which are Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah, there are minimum damage thresholds your case will have to meet before a personal injury claim can be filed.
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