The Dangers of Settling a Case Early
According to the World Health Organization, between 20 and 50 million people worldwide suffer non-fatal injuries each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Slip and fall incidents account for over 1 million emergency room visits each year in the U.S., as reported by the National Floor Safety Institute. These and other types of personal injuries often result in an insurance claim.
If you’re involved with a personal injury claim, you may be anxious to reach a settlement, especially if you’re dealing with medical bills and/or lost wages as a result of your accident. However, in order to get the settlement you deserve, it may be better to wait. Learn more about the reasons why you should avoid settling a personal injury case too soon.
Image via Flickr by Presidencia de la República Mexicana
Your Injuries Could Worsen
When you suffer a personal injury, it isn’t always apparent how that injury will affect you in the long term. Serious spine and brain injuries can be very complex, with far-reaching effects that may be unknown for weeks or even months after the injury occurs. For example, you could suffer serious migraines, chronic pain, loss of balance, or memory issues later on as a result of the accident. These complications can significantly affect your ability to live and work as usual, and you deserve to be compensated for that.
Even injuries that appear to be fairly straightforward could have long-term complications. A broken arm may be healed relatively quickly with a cast and/or surgery, but what if you require physical therapy afterwards to regain full wrist movement? A case of whiplash may seem to heal initially, but what if you end up with recurrent neck pain for years afterward?
These kinds of effects may not be apparent right after an injury, so waiting allows more time to thoroughly assess the injury.
You May Not Get the Compensation You Deserve
When you’re pursuing a personal injury claim, it’s important to remember that the medical expenses are just one piece of the puzzle. You need to allow time to determine not only the full physical toll of the injury, but also to account for the medical expenses, lost wages, and other financial damages that may accrue over time. You’ll want all of those costs to be factored into your final settlement. If you accept a smaller settlement up front, you may be missing out on the other types of compensation that you deserve, including:
- Treatment expenditures: Remember that medical expenses can extend far beyond the initial treatment you receive directly after the injury occurs. You may also need to be compensated for ambulance charges, rehabilitation, cognitive therapy, reconstructive surgeries, or even permanent disability. Your settlement should also account for accessories like crutches or wheelchairs as well as in-home care when required.
- Lost income: Did you have to miss work after your accident? Will the injury affect your ability to work in the future? Your settlement needs to include compensation for any lost wages, from a temporary absence from work to the loss of future earning ability due to your injuries.
- Pain and suffering: You may endure a great amount of physical and mental stress associated with your injury. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine how much should be added to your settlement due to your personal pain and suffering.
The Insurance Company Isn’t Working in Your Best Interests
Don’t assume that the insurance company’s initial offer is fair. The adjuster’s job is not to make sure you receive full compensation. Instead, they are working to minimize losses for the insurance company, so their goal is to give you as little as possible in the settlement.
Because injury complications often appear weeks or months after the initial injury, insurance adjusters often push for an earlier settlement. This way, they will not have to include reimbursement for the complications that have not yet appeared.
It’s important to be aware of these ulterior motives, especially right after your injury. This is when you are most vulnerable, and the insurance company hopes that in your injured state, you’ll be willing to accept whatever is offered. Instead of doing that, consult with an attorney who has extensive experience handling personal injury claims like yours to make sure you are compensated fairly for the accident.
Personal Injury Settlement FAQs
Figuring out how to get a fair settlement can be challenging. Check out some of the most frequently asked questions associated with personal injury settlements.
How Long Should I Wait Before Accepting a Settlement?
The answer to this question varies depending on two factors: (1) the extent of your injuries, and (2) where you live.
You should look to your doctors and other healthcare providers for guidance on whether your injury has been fully assessed. This is called maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning that your condition cannot be improved any further. When you’ve reached that point, you’ll have a much better idea of how much is reasonable to demand in your settlement.
In addition, you’ll need to take into account the statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This can vary by state, but it often extends for about two to four years after the injury occurs.
How Can I Pay for Medical Treatment Before a Settlement Is Reached?
Don’t accept an offer too early just because you’re worried about mounting medical bills. If you need help with payments in the meantime, your personal injury lawyer can help you secure a physician’s lien or medical lien. This will place a lien on your settlement to ensure that payment for your medical treatments is received once the compensation from your settlement has been disbursed.
What Insurance Company Tactics Should I Watch Out For?
The insurance company will often try to secure an early settlement in order to minimize their losses. If an adjuster contacts you in the days after the accident, do not agree to anything before speaking with an attorney. An adjuster could even show up at your home or the hospital, trying to get you to accept a check or sign a settlement before you’re ready. Avoid these encounters by having your attorney handle communication with the insurance for you and enlisting family members to turn adjusters away while you recover.
Have any other questions about personal injury claims? Let us know. You deserve to receive compensation for any personal injury you endure. If you need assistance in handling your claim and securing a fair settlement, contact Alvarez Law Office.