3 Points To Consider Before Accepting Insurance Money After An Accident
Motor vehicle accidents can have disastrous consequences for the victims – even if the damages seem to be minor at first.
It is very common for concussions and other internal injury symptoms to be subtle, and be easily missed by doctors during the first diagnosis. So, if you were in an accident where everything seemed fine initially, a small offer from the perpetrator’s insurance company may look like a gesture of goodwill, and you might be inclined to take it.
However, once you have accepted the settlement and signed on the paperwork, you are legally barred from asking for more money – and insurance companies know this.
It is when you go to the hospital for a follow-up and get diagnosed with severe injuries as a result of the accident, the at-fault party is already in the clear after giving you less than what you deserve.
So, how do you protect yourself from this ordeal? How can you ensure that you don’t have to worry about insurmountable hospital bills later on?
Here are three things that can help you get a fair payout:
Remember, Insurance Companies Will Limit Their Liability
While they may advertise otherwise, insurance companies always have profit as their main interest.
Their own profit; not yours.
And they will try to retain as much of their money as possible, even when it means an unfair settlement for you.
A very commonly used practice by insurance providers is ‘swoop and settle.’ They know how to approach you when you are the most vulnerable – you may even get a visit from an agent on your first day at the hospital.
You will be offered a quick settlement for your troubles, typically an amount that is way below what you can get after a proper trial with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
Since insurance companies want to cut down on their liabilities, they want you to believe settling as soon as possible is in your best interests.
What’s worse is that their agent manages to convince victims that filing a lawsuit is a long, painful ordeal and that they might not get a better deal out of it.
And yes, while a trial does take longer, it gives you the time you need to gauge the true costs of your accident, thereby allowing you and your lawyer to calculate the rightful amount.
Not taking this aspect into consideration can lead you to be lured into a false state of urgency to accept the initial payout offer.
Insurance Companies Are Responsible For Long Term Costs – Not Just Immediate Bills
The truth is, there is no way of knowing what your total medical costs will be right after an accident.
In the long run, you may have to account for additional medical costs such as follow up visits to the doctor, and possibly a therapist to help with the mental trauma.
Other long term costs include loss of employment, loss of transportation or the ability to drive, and long term physical costs that are not immediately known.
Loss of employment essentially surfaces in the form of pay cuts or being removed from service altogether as you take continuous sick leaves for your post-hospitalization care.
For example, chronic pain, a common and debilitating result of motor vehicle accidents, usually surfaces a few weeks or months after the accident. This means that physical injuries that require consistent long term care cannot possibly be taken care of by a small, hasty settlement.
Depending on the severity of the accident, you may also lose the ability to drive – either because of some physical injury or because of irreparable damage to your vehicle.
In such cases, you will need considerable funds to go for complex medical procedures, rehabilitation, buying a new vehicle, or using public transport for your daily commute to work.
Whatever the initial medical costs, it’s true that your medical and other bills will keep piling up, and slowly increase with time – and typically, insurance companies don’t want to pay for that.
Having settled for a lesser payout up front means there is nothing you can do against the at-fault party once the severity of these costs hits you – in fact, 2/3 of people who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributor.
Remember, it is important to calculate all the potential expenses you will have to face because of an accident. This will help you decide what constitutes a fair settlement, so you are not left to deal with these costs by yourself.
Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer Increases The Chances Of You Getting A Fair Settlement
Personal injury (PI) lawyers deal with insurance companies on a regular basis and are well versed in tactics employed by them to withhold fair settlements.
Therefore, hiring a PI attorney can help you see past the seemingly attractive offer by insurance companies. This lets you determine a settlement amount that can help you pay for upfront medical bills and long term costs.
In fact, as per the Insurance Research Council, working with a lawyer can help you get 3.5x more money compared to the initial offer.
So, in what other ways can a personal injury lawyer help you?
Well, an attorney also helps you gather all the evidence required to prove that the other party was indeed at fault, and use a formula to calculate the adequate amount for your compensation.
This process might take longer than getting paid within the week – maybe even up to a year or two – but it saves you the trouble of paying uncalculated costs out of your own pocket.
In A Nutshell
It is unfortunate that after a life-altering incident, victims have to grapple with the technicalities of the American healthcare system.
On top of that, insurance companies quickly step in and strike when you are at your most vulnerable. They try to convince victims that accepting a lower settlement is a wise option, as it can avoid a lengthy lawsuit.
However, if you accept the money straight away, then you cannot ask for more in the future, especially when you realize that there are doctor visits and therapy bills that you are not aware of right now.
This is why it’s important to hire a personal injury lawyer who will help you account for everything you are owed as a result of an accident – thus, helping you make an informed decision when accepting the settlement.
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My case was recently settled this holiday season with attorney Brian Roller. All I can is wow they are such an amazing and attentive firm. I had the pleasure of having Luz and Margaret as the assistants on the case and they were absolutely efficient. They were always available and answered all my questions in a timely manner. I received a more than great settlement and couldn’t be anymore thankful than to have had them represent me on my auto case. Would definitely use them again and million times after that if needed.- Martha G.
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