Should I Take the First Settlement Offer in My Personal Injury Case? (And How to Handle a Lowball Settlement Offer)
Table of Contents
- Why Did I Receive a Lowball Settlement Offer?
- Steps to Respond to a Low Settlement Offer
- Don’t Settle Until You’ve Healed
- Remember: You Cannot Renegotiate After You Accept a Settlement Offer
- How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Negotiate a Settlement
- The Brown Firm: Protecting the Injured in Georgia and South Carolina
It’s common to feel overwhelmed after a car accident, slip and fall, or medical mistake injures you or someone you love. This is especially true if you have large, unpaid medical bills, severe injuries, and lost income.
That’s why the insurance adjuster swooped in and offered you a “quick and easy” settlement. They are trying to take advantage of you.
I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.
Why Did I Receive a Lowball Settlement Offer?
Don’t let yourself be bullied into taking a lowball offer to settle your claim that doesn’t meet your needs! Many adjusters will offer unfair settlements to you after a crash or incident—and discourage you from even calling a personal injury lawyer. Fortunately, you don’t have to accept it. And you don’t even have to speak with the insurance adjuster again.
If you’re not absolutely sure what your case is worth, or you haven’t spoken with a personal injury attorney yet, make sure you do so before accepting anything. If the amount of money you’ve been offered won’t cover your long-term needs, taking it can lead to financial disaster down the road.
An experienced personal injury attorney can handle the entire process and ensure that you get the settlement offer you deserve. There are many reasons why the first settlement offer (and even second or third offers) from an insurance company are often lowballs.
There’s Missing Evidence
The adjuster might not have all the necessary information, like medical bills and records of other damages. When you work with an experienced personal injury lawyer, they will carefully investigate your claim, consulting with eyewitnesses, experts, and the authorities. Our law firm often uncovers:
- Missing medical records
- Surveillance and GPS data associated with a car crash
- Information about improper maintenance or negligent hiring
- Detailed calculations of your lifetime needs and future medical expenses
- Other wrongdoers who are liable for your injuries
Make sure the adjuster has everything they need during their investigation of your accident. If you think that your offer was made based on incomplete information, reach out to The Brown Firm. We can help you fill in the gaps and provide your adjuster with the information they need to properly evaluate your claim.
The Adjuster Thinks Your Case Is Weak
Your low settlement offer could be due to perceived flaws in your personal injury claim. Maybe there wasn’t a lot of damage to your vehicle, you had unexplained gaps in medical treatment, or perhaps you have pre-existing injuries to the areas of your body that were injured in your accident.
Unless you address these issues, your case might be worth less than you hoped for. Sometimes, a personal injury lawyer can help you fight back, using evidence and sophisticated legal strategies. But if you miss filing deadlines or make damaging statements to the insurance company, there might be little we can do.
To protect yourself, get a free consultation with a lawyer early on. That way, you will understand your rights and will have someone guiding you through the early stages of your personal injury claim.
The Insurance Company Wants to Save Money
Another major possibility, unfortunately, is that the insurance company is simply trying to protect its bottom line. The insurer’s top priority is saving money, not protecting your rights. They want to settle your case quickly and cheaply, meaning that initial settlement offers are quite often for far less than your case is truly worth.
RELATED: How Your Insurance Adjuster Determines Your Settlement Offer
Steps to Respond to a Low Settlement Offer
Some people think they can handle the insurance companies by themselves, but it is always a good idea to work with an experienced attorney, especially if you are recovering from injuries.
A personal injury attorney can help you understand and calculate the true value of your personal injury case, work with the insurance company on your behalf, and protect you from being taken advantage of by lowball offers.
If you do receive a low settlement offer from your insurance company, you and hopefully your attorney can take the following steps to get you the settlement you deserve:
Remain Calm and Analyze Your Offer
Just like anything in life, it’s never a good idea to respond emotionally after receiving a low offer. It’s an even bigger mistake to accept it out of fear that it’s the best they will do.
No matter how upset you get, or how in need of money you may be, never ruin the professional relationship you have with the other parties. Things you say and do can be sued against you if you try to renegotiate the offer.
Keep in mind that the insurance company’s initial offer will be the lowest offer they think they can get away with and serves as a starting point for negotiations.
And remember that if you are struggling with short-term finances while your personal injury case is ongoing, your attorney can often help you delay payment of your medical bills until after a settlement or verdict is returned.
Once you’re sure you can keep your emotions in check, you can start asking questions. Find out why the adjuster made the offer they did. Ask your claims adjuster to break down how they made their offer based on the information they have.
Your insurance adjuster must give you the reasons why they came to their decision if they decide to deny your claim. Their responses can help guide you on how to respond with an appropriate counteroffer.
For example, as we mentioned above, if your offer was not enough or it was denied due to missing information, provide them with the information they need in your counteroffer.
Present the Facts
Everything needs to be documented after your accident. Your injuries, medical costs, property damage, lost wages, and any other documentation of damages can serve as valuable evidence to support your claim. The more evidence you have, the easier it will be to prove your claim.
Having the paperwork necessary to back up the amount you believe is needed to cover your damages makes it harder for your insurance company to send you a lowball offer.
Presenting your adjuster with all the facts, backed by a paper trail, will likely force them to give you a better settlement offer.
Develop a Counteroffer
With all your documentation, and after thoroughly reviewing the offer from your adjuster, you and your attorney can develop a counteroffer.
Other factors that you will need to consider when developing your counteroffer might be the limits of the insurance policies or the wrongdoer’s personal assets if the insurance policy limits aren’t enough to pay your damages.
There may be several offers and counteroffers made during the settlement negotiations. In fact, even after a lawsuit is filed, settlement negotiations can always continue, right up to the start of trial.
It will be up to you and your attorney to decide what you are willing to accept for your claim. If you cannot reach a fair settlement during negotiations, you might have to take your claim to court.
Respond in Writing
Your attorney will help you draft a formal response in the form of a demand letter to the initial offer notifying the insurer that you are rejecting the offer.
While drafting the letter, you and your attorney can point out faulty assumptions made by the insurance company that made the initial offer too low. Your written response should include additional details that had been left out initially, like proof of lost income, updated medical records and medical bills, details from police reports, and details about your non-economic damages, like how pain and suffering is affecting your life.
Don’t Settle Until You’ve Healed
When renegotiating a low settlement offer, you should remember to never accept an offer until you have made a complete recovery from your injuries, also known as maximum medical improvement (MMI).
In many cases, the symptoms you experience after an auto accident or other kind of personal injury may not be fully apparent for days or even weeks after the incident.
On the flipside, if you’ve been very seriously injured, it may take several months to make the fullest possible recovery, and for your doctors to confidently determine how much long-term or follow-up care you will need.
Simply put, you need to understand the full extent of your injuries—and how much they will cost in you economic damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering—before you can accept any offer with confidence. Once you’ve accepted and signed the settlement, you cannot renegotiate the offer or file another personal injury lawsuit.
Remember: You Cannot Renegotiate After You Accept a Settlement Offer
Your settlement offer is a binding contract. In a typical settlement, you agree to accept money in exchange for ending your lawsuit or giving up your legal rights against the other party.
Once your settlement agreement has been accepted and signed, there are no re-dos. If sometime down the road you realize that the settlement was too low to cover all your financial needs, there’s no going back.
That’s why it is so important to know that the settlement offer you’ve received is fair and reasonable. If you aren’t sure, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side is priceless when negotiating a settlement.
RELATED: What’s The Difference Between a Personal Injury Settlement and Verdict?
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Negotiate a Settlement
Your personal injury attorney has undergone extensive training with real-life experience, so they can help you calculate and fight for the full value of your claim.
Several factors can determine how fair compensation in a settlement is calculated, including:
- Current and estimated future medical bills
- Current and estimated future wage losses
- Property damage
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Whether or not liability for the accident is shared or in dispute
As you can imagine, while some of these factors are relatively straightforward (for example, existing medical bills), others are far more subjective.
For example, if an injury causes long-term difficulties (such as loss of a limb, chronic headaches, loss of ability to enjoy your favorite activities, etc.) that don’t have a direct economic cost, but still clearly cause suffering or diminish the quality of your life, you may well be entitled to compensation for these losses. The big question, though, is “how much?” Translating non-economic damages into a reasonable dollar amount takes the skill and experience of a seasoned attorney.
Liability is another major factor, as the amount of compensation you can recover will be reduced if you share a percentage of fault. An experienced attorney can help you preserve and organize key evidence and protect you from making preventable mistakes in dealing with claims adjusters, which can help you avoid taking more blame that you deserve.
With the experience and training necessary to deal with insurance companies and their lowball offers, your lawyer will even the playing field between you and the insurance company, increasing your odds of getting a fair settlement.
Make sure you find the right lawyer for your case, ask questions to get the most of your personal injury consultation.
Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?
The Brown Firm: Protecting the Injured in Georgia and South Carolina
Dealing with an insurance company after an accident can be stressful and aggravating. That’s why you need a personal injury lawyer on your side who will guide you through the entire process.
The lawyers at The Brown Firm will help you understand your rights, recognize a settlement offer that is too low, and negotiate a better settlement that will take care of your finances. Study after study shows that injury sufferers who retain legal counsel receive higher settlements on average than those who choose to go unrepresented, even after subtracting lawyer’s fees.
Speaking of fees, our team works on contingency, meaning that you don’t pay us anything unless we win you a settlement or verdict. This includes a free case evaluation, naturally, with no obligation whatsoever, so there is no reason not to get solid legal advice before accepting any settlement offer.
If you’ve recently been involved in an accident and want to be sure you get the compensation you deserve for your damages, click the button below or call (800) 529-1441 today to schedule a free consultation with The Brown Firm.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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