When someone is injured in an accident, insurance companies will often encourage a quick settlement. The reason is simple: these companies know that by dangling the “carrot” of a quick settlement before the victim, he or she will likely take the money and relinquish all rights to future compensation. This means that, by offering a quick settlement, the insurance company can often get out of paying the full value of a claim. In fact, many settlement offers from insurance companies are pennies on the dollar when compared to the true value of a case.
A victim who is represented by a personal injury attorney rarely encounters this problem. Insurance companies know that personal injury attorneys will not encourage their clients to settle quickly but to hold out for a reasonable sum that represents not only the economic damages in the case, such as medical bills and property damage, but the non-economic value of the case as well, such as sums for pain and suffering. Because personal injury attorneys insist on fair and transparent settlement offers from insurance companies, victims who are represented by a personal injury attorney often recover more than those who represent themselves.
Quick Settlements May Equal Less Money
Victims should beware of any attorney who promises a quick settlement. In most cases, quick settlements have a much smaller value than those that are worked out over time.
Sometimes clients become anxious when they have to wait for a settlement. They may think that by not taking the initial offer they have forfeited their right to compensation and that the insurance company will not pay. This is rarely true, although insurance companies certainly encourage this type of thinking.
Waiting May Be Better
The settlements that are worked out over time are often the ones that are truly reflective of the case’s value. An illustration may help to clarify this process.
Martin is injured in a car accident. His medical bills total $5,000 and the damage to his car comes to $5,000. Almost immediately, the other driver’s insurance company begins calling and offers Martin $15,000, which is $10,000 in economic damages and another $5,000 for pain and suffering. Martin thinks this sounds like a fair offer and accepts. The entire transaction, from the date of the accident to the day Martin receives his check, is just over ten days.
Unfortunately, Martin was experiencing pain in his neck that he paid little attention to at first. However, as the weeks go by and the pain does not improve, Martin seeks treatment for the neck injury. He goes to a doctor who diagnoses whiplash from the accident and tells him that he will need medical treatment for the next few months totaling another $5,000 in cost. Martin has no way to recover this amount because he has already waived his right to further compensation.
Martin got a quick settlement, but he will end up losing money. Had Martin gone to a personal injury attorney, the lawyer might have convinced Martin to wait a bit and be sure that his medical treatment was fully covered. A personal injury attorney might also have given Martin the advice to ask for more for his pain and suffering.
Personal Injury Cases Are Marathons, Not Sprints
Most personal injury cases that are settled quickly simply do not cover everything important about the case. Insurance companies often push for quick settlements, but victims are usually better off trying to recover damages over the long term than the short term. A personal injury attorney can help a victim recognize a fast and easy settlement as opposed to a truly valuable, long-term settlement.