Should You Accept the First Insurance Offer After a Car Accident?
After a car crash, it is normal for a victim to seek compensation from their insurance company or the insurance company of the negligent driver. When seeking compensation from the negligent driver, the victim may be concerned about whether they should accept the initial insurance offer.
However, there are a number of factors to consider before a victim should accept an insurance payment after a car accident. If you were injured in a car accident and you are concerned about the insurance settlement you were offered, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
The Reiff Law Firm is dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they need after a serious car accident. We are here to discuss whether you should accept an insurance offer after a car accident. To schedule a free appointment to review your settlement offer and discuss other options, call (215) 709-6940.
Reasons to Decline the First Insurance Offer After a Car Accident
After a devastating car accident that may have left a victim with long-term injuries, it is understandable that the victim would want to accept the first insurance offer so they could move forward with their life. However, there are a number of reasons that a car accident victim should reconsider accepting the initial insurance offer.
One reason to reconsider accepting the first insurance offer after a car accident is that the offer may not be enough in comparison to your damages. Many car accident victims make the mistake of accepting an insurance offer prematurely before they understand the full extent of their injuries and other losses. For example, if you went to a doctor and learned that you might need extensive surgery due to the accident, the initial insurance offer may not have considered the costs of ongoing medical care.
Another reason to decline the initial insurance offer is that insurance companies will often try to minimize their liability for an accident. For example, the insurance claim adjuster may insinuate that you were partly liable for the accident in order to decrease your damages. That is why it is important to have thorough documentation of the details of the accident.
If you are already receiving insurance offers from the company representing the negligent driver, you should consider contacting an experienced Bristol car accident attorney as soon as possible. The Reiff Law Firm could help you in insurance negotiations to ensure that you receive the compensation you need in comparison to your expenses caused by the car accident.
To learn more about the damages that should be considered when considering insurance offers, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Factors That Affect a First Insurance Offer After a Car Accident
There are a number of factors that could affect an insurance offer after a car accident. You should consider the following factors before you agree to accept the first insurance offer of an insurance company.
Loss of Wages
If you were severely injured enough that you must take a significant amount of time off work, this should be factored into the insurance offer. A victim of a car crash should not have to struggle to manage their monthly expenses due to the actions of a negligent driver. A victim may even be able to argue for damages for future loss of wages due to the time needed to recover from the crash or seek treatment.
The damage to the victim’s vehicle should also be another major negotiation point. If the settlement offer is not enough to cover the damage to the victim’s vehicle, they should negotiate a different offer.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are based on the type of injuries suffered by the victim in a car crash. For example, if a victim suffered multiple bone fractures, this could be used to negotiate the settlement offer.
There are many other factors that should be considered when making a settlement offer. Our firm is here to help guide you through the process.
Will the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer Cover All of the Medical Expenses?
A significant percentage of your compensation after a car accident will go towards your medical expenses. However, it is often impossible to know what the cost of your treatment will be just a few days or weeks after an accident. Some injuries take a long time to diagnose accurately, especially certain head and back injuries. In other cases, your doctor might prescribe a course of treatment that initially shows some success but eventually proves ineffective. If you accept a settlement offer without fully understanding the scope of medical treatment and physical therapy you will require, it is unlikely that the amount will be sufficient to cover all your expenses. Once you agree to an offer, you are releasing the insurance company of any further liability. This means if your condition worsens and your need extensive treatment or surgery, you are prohibited from seeking additional compensation.
Should You Trust the Insurance Company?
While you should file an insurance claim in a timely manner, you need to remember that the insurance company or your agent is not working for you. That does not mean they are purposefully attempting to defraud you or are doing something illegal (though some do). However, an insurance adjuster is working on behalf of their company and the company’s best interests. An insurance company might not outright commit fraud after a car accident, but its agents might attempt to take advantage of an injured victim. Often this is done through offering a quick but unfair initial settlement, hoping that an accident victim needs money immediately and will not question the amount.
There are some precautions you should take to avoid the many mistakes that people make. First, review and understand your insurance policy. If you are familiar with the terms and conditions of your policy, you will know what to expect. Do not allow an insurance agent to tell you what you are eligible for, especially when it contradicts the policy’s terms.
Avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as fault or minimize your injuries. An insurance agent could ask how you are feeling or other questions to elicit a response that could be used to deny or limit your claim.
Never sign anything without consulting with our Philadelphia car accident attorneys. Any waiver or document you sign will likely be binding. You do not want to extinguish or waive any rights or options without understanding what you are signing.
You do not have to accept the first settlement offer. This also means you should not accept any payment from an insurance company unless you have agreed upon a number. Cashing check could constitute an acceptance of a settlement that is insufficient to cover your damages.
How to Negotiate a Higher Settlement Offer
Negotiating with an insurance company after a car accident is a viable option. However, if you want to maximize your compensation, you should not accept the first offer. Additionally, you should have an experienced attorney on your side.
Our Philadelphia car accident attorneys will help you understand what your damages are and what you should expect to receive. Our office will calculate this amount based on the available evidence. In addition to your medical condition, other important factors include who was at fault and the strength of your legal position if you decided to pursue a claim in court.
After receiving the initial offer, a counter-offer should be made. The counter-offer is not simply a higher number. Facts and evidence should support it. If you have hired an attorney, the insurance company will anticipate a negotiation. While your counter-offer might not be accepted, most insurance providers will come back with a substantially higher offer than their initial one.
What to Do If the Insurance Company Starts Ignoring You
Insurance companies understand the process. One tactic insurance providers employ is purposefully delaying claims. If you believe an insurance adjuster or agent is purposefully not returning your emails or phone calls, contact our Philadelphia attorneys.
If your call is not being returned, it might not be intentional. In some situations, a case could have been reassigned, someone could be on vacation, or there is another reasonable explanation. It is important to follow up with another call, voicemail, email, or letter.
However, if an insurance company still does not return your call, it could be a bad faith tactic. Sometimes an insurance provider will not handle a claim reasonably or fairly. By ignoring you and intentionally dragging out the process, the insurer is attempting to force you to accept the initial and insufficient offer.
It is important to remember that if an insurance company is ignoring it does not mean you did something wrong or lack coverage. Ignoring is not a denial or a rejection of your claim. It is a tactic used to try and intentionally lower the claim. Typically, an insurance company is not feeling any pressure to settle a claim while your medical bills and lost income pile up. If you think an insurance company is acting in bad faith and have not contacted an attorney, do so immediately.
Do You Have to Use the Body Shop that the Insurance Company Says
While your insurance company will recommend a body shop, the choice where your take your vehicle is yours, you just want to ensure that your car is repaired correctly.
It is not uncommon for an insurer to have contracts with body shops. By having professional relationships with certain repair shops, an insurance company is able to negotiate lower costs for parts and labor. These shops will also meet the insurance company’s requirements. Still, if you have a mechanic you are comfortable with, you are entitled to have your car repaired there. Some insurers will try to pressure you into using their recommendation and sometimes threaten that your claim will take longer to process. If you have an attorney already dealing with the insurer, they could assist you during this process.
One important note, if you have a leased vehicle, then the contractual terms of the lease could dictate where any repairs are performed. Be sure to understand your obligations under your lease agreement. If you have any questions, our car accident attorneys are available to help.
Personal Injury Lawsuit vs. Insurance Offers for Car Accidents
Another option for resolving your car accident case is to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. As mentioned, an insurance offer may not provide you with the damages that you need for your injuries and other related losses. However, filing a personal injury lawsuit will ensure that you could request the damages you need to handle your expenses after a car accident.
The Reiff Law Firm is here to speak with you about whether it would be prudent to file a lawsuit after a car accident or whether you should negotiate a better settlement offer. Our experienced Media car accident lawyers are ready to work with you.
Our Experienced Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyers Can Help Deal with the Insurance Companies for You
If you or a family member was injured in a car crash, you should work with an experienced car accident attorney before you accept an insurance offer. The Reiff Law Firm has worked on a plethora of car accident cases for decades, and we are here to offer you legal representation that meets your unique needs. If you would like to schedule a free legal consultation to discuss the details of your car accident, you should call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940. You also have the option of using our online submission form to schedule your free case review.