Car accidents are major events that no one prepares for in advance. When they happen, it is important to educate yourself quickly on how to respond. The time-sensitive decisions you make in the aftermath of a car accident have a huge impact on how much compensation you receive. That’s why it pays to find the best attorney in Houston, TX, even if you have already been offered a car accident settlement.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer If I Was Already Offered a Settlement?
Working with a car accident attorney is always advisable, even if the insurance company has already offered you a settlement. Insurance companies often try to tempt car accident claimants with low offers. They know that once you accept an offer, it is usually impossible to re-open the case. Your lawyer’s job is to protect you from these kinds of manipulative tactics.
Personal injury claims can be worth hundreds of thousands…even millions of dollars. A lawyer can assess all the details of your case to determine how much compensation you will need to cover your recovery. If necessary, your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company to increase your settlement offer.
Don’t Accept a Settlement Offer Too Soon
Over and over, we hear from people who have accepted settlement offers before they took the time to review them. An in-depth look into the settlement process reveals why you should never accept a settlement offer before you have had the chance to speak with your attorney.
What Is a Settlement Offer?
If you have never had to submit an insurance claim before, it is important to understand how insurance companies operate. A claim is basically a way of informing the insurance company that you have legal grounds to request compensation for an accident. Most insurance companies prefer to settle outside of court by agreeing to pay all or some of the amount you request.
The settlement offer is the document that states how much the insurance company is willing to pay and what terms are attached to the payout. It is important to remember that insurance companies are for-profit businesses that maximize their bottom line by keeping payouts as low as possible, regardless of the injuries their claimants may have suffered.
Settlement Offers Are Final
Most insurance companies will require you to sign a release along with the settlement offer. The release usually states that you may not re-open your case or ask for more money after you have accepted the offer. If you learn later that your claim was worth more than the settlement amount, you will be out of luck. Even if you find that your injuries are more costly to treat than you expected, you will not be able to increase your payout to cover them.
Many Settlement Offers Are Too Low
Car accidents can be extremely costly. Even a little fender-bender can require expensive repairs to your vehicle, while accidents involving severe injuries can result in a lifetime of costly medical treatments. Insurance companies know that many people do not realize how much money is really needed to recover from an accident. For that reason, many settlement offers are too low.
Another reason you might receive a low offer is that insurance companies anticipate bargaining. Reviewing offers with an attorney and negotiating for more money is a standard part of the claim submission process. Therefore, the insurance company might intentionally make their first offer low to reduce the final payout you receive after the lawyer had negotiated for more money.
Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Talk to a Lawyer
If an insurance company sees that you were involved in a costly accident, they will try to get you to sign a settlement offer before you have had the chance to talk to a lawyer. They don’t want to give you the opportunity to learn about all the damages you could potentially claim, and they don’t want you working with a lawyer who knows how to negotiate strongly on your behalf.
Legally, a settlement offer can only be made between the defendant and the plaintiff. An insurance company might try to convince you that since you are the one signing the offer, you do not need the input of a lawyer. Regardless of what they say, it is your right to work with an attorney who can provide the legal advice you need to maximize your compensation.
How Can a Lawyer Increase Your Car Accident Settlement?
Your insurance company might try to settle with you before you speak with a lawyer because they know that statistically, claimants who work with a skilled attorney receive higher payouts than those who don’t. Here is why the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer usually outweigh the legal fees:
Pointing Out All of Your Damages
The insurance company might try to downplay your claim by failing to recognize all of your damages in the initial settlement offer. Your lawyer should go through the aftermath of the accident with a fine-toothed comb to identify all of the damages that could increase the value of your claim. You should choose a lawyer who is highly familiar with all of the losses that may have factored into your accident, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional stress
As you work with your lawyer, you might learn about damages that you didn’t realize were eligible for compensation. For example, if you are claiming lost wages, you can include any promotions you missed out on or vacation time you did not earn. Additionally, there are some obscure losses that the average person might not think to list in a car accident case, such as the loss of spousal attention.
Compiling Evidence to Support a Higher Payout
If you receive a settlement offer that is too low, you will need to support your argument for a higher payout with evidence of your losses. Working with a lawyer is the best way to ensure that your statements are sufficiently demonstrated and that your evidence is submitted according to legal protocols. Even if you do not go to court, having a well-backed case will show the insurance company that you have grounds to win a legal battle if they persist in denying you an adequate payout.
Evaluating Your Settlement Offers
Experienced personal injury lawyers have seen many cases. With experience comes the ability to make educated predictions on how a court would view your accident if you took your claim to trial. Your lawyer will use his or her knowledge to advise you on whether you should accept a settlement offer, hold out for more money, or wage a legal battle. The best personal injury attorneys can offer both strong negotiation skills and the ability to win cases that go to trial.
Speak With a Personal Injury Attorney in Houston, TX
After a car accident, costs can build up quickly. It can be tempting to accept a settlement offer quickly, but you should always talk to a lawyer first. A skilled lawyer can help you be sure that you are getting the right amount of money for your losses. To speak with an attorney in Houston, TX about your car accident settlement, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC, today!