If you are like most people, your main priority after being injured in an accident is to get back to your normal life as quickly as possible. You want to get better, you want to get back to work, and perhaps most of all, you want to get past dealing with the insurance companies.
So, you are hoping for a quick settlement. You have seen the commercials, and you are hoping that the insurance companies will offer you fair compensation. Then, before you expect it, a settlement offer comes. Should you accept?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is almost certainly a clear “No.”
Why Shouldn’t You Accept the Insurance Company’s First Offer?
When dealing with the insurance companies after an accident in West Virginia, there are many important facts you need to know. But, one of the most important facts is this: The insurance companies never put accident victims’ best interests first.
If you receive a settlement offer early in your case (i.e., before you submit comprehensive evidence of your financial and non-financial losses and before your attorney has a chance to negotiate), the chance that the offer reflects adequate compensation for your injuries is extremely small. This is because:
- The insurance companies will not calculate your losses for you, so any offer they submit is going to be non-specific to your injuries; and,
- The reason you have received a settlement offer is because the insurance companies want you to settle before you have a clear understanding of the full long-term effects of your injuries.
To be clear, when an insurance company makes an early settlement offer, it is doing so in order to protect its own best interests and limit the amount that it pays for your injuries. Your case is over once you accept a settlement, so the insurance company’s goal is to entice you with a “quick and easy” settlement while you are unaware that its offer reflects a small fraction of the amount you are rightfully owed.
When Should You Accept an Insurance Settlement Offer?
With this in mind, is it ever in your best interests to accept a settlement? Yes, absolutely. With an experienced attorney representing you, you can negotiate a settlement that provides just compensation for the financial and non-financial losses resulting from your injuries.
When deciding whether to accept a settlement offer following an accident in West Virginia, the key is to make an informed decision based on complete information. This includes information about:
- Who was at fault in the accident;
- How much you will need to pay for medical treatment, rehabilitation, and prescriptions;
- How much time you will miss from work (and perhaps whether you will ever be able to return to your previous employment);
- What other financial losses you will incur; and,
- What amount reflects fair compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other non-financial losses.
Once you have all of this information, it will likely become painfully clear just how unfair the insurance company’s original settlement offer was. With this information in hand, you (or your attorney) can also present a strong case for maximum compensation and negotiate based on actual facts and figures rather than faulty assumptions.
Gathering this information and negotiating for a fair settlement will take time, but it will be worth it. If you have been seriously injured, the amount you are entitled to receive could be many times the insurance company’s original offer.
What if You Never Receive a Settlement Offer for Just Compensation?
Now, let’s assume that you have been seriously injured in an accident, you have hired an attorney who has presented all of the relevant evidence to the insurance companies, and the insurance companies still will not offer a fair settlement. What are your options now?
At this point, you might be looking at taking your case to trial. While statistics show that the vast majority of personal injury claims settle, some cases go to trial, and many cases settle only because the victim is unaware that he or she is entitled to more than the insurance company has offered.
When you hire an attorney to represent you, your attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement, but at the same time he or she will also begin preparing for the possibility of taking your case to court. This will effectively set a timeline for the settlement negotiations, and it will also let the insurance companies know that you are serious about recovering just compensation. If your trial date arrives and you still have not received a fair settlement offer, the insurance companies will be forced to choose between offering a fair settlement and defending against your evidence in court. In many cases, the risk of a substantial verdict will be enough to convince the insurance companies to settle for just compensation before the jury reaches its decision.
Discuss Your Case with a West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney at Colombo Law
If you have been seriously injured in an accident in West Virginia and would like to discuss your case with an attorney, we encourage you to contact us for a free case review. To schedule an appointment as soon as possible, please call 304-599-4229 or get in touch online now.