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After a crash that wasn’t your fault, you need money to pay for your medical bills and lost wages. And if the insurance company offers you a settlement in the days or weeks after the accident, you may feel relieved and ready to accept it without hesitation.
However, it’s important to remember that insurance companies are profit-driven and don’t offer victims settlements out of the kindness of their hearts. Instead, they usually offer settlements to reduce how much money they give victims.
Keep reading to learn why you shouldn’t immediately accept an insurance company’s offer—especially without consulting an experienced Ohio car accident lawyer.
Insurance companies know that injured victims need money right away after crashes. For many Ohioans, a single missed paycheck can be a financial emergency. And when that missed paycheck is coupled with big medical bills, any settlement offer may be hard to resist.
Because many victims need money right away, insurance companies offer them fast settlements that are far less than the money they’re owed for all of their damages. Unfortunately, victims who accept those immediate settlement offers can’t get more compensation later, even if the money runs out before the bills do. Settlement offers are “one and done”—once victims accept them, they’re legally forbidden from asking for more money later.
So, although you may need settlement money as soon as possible, it’s still best to wait until a lawyer helps you get an offer (or a jury verdict) that gives you fair and full compensation.
When insurance companies offer settlements after crashes, they may quickly calculate how much money victims need for their initial medical bills and lost wages to get them to accept. However, they rarely consider how crashes affect victims emotionally and psychologically.
After a crash, you may suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. You also may be in too much pain to enjoy your hobbies or spend quality time with family and friends. A lawyer can help you get compensation for your pain and suffering, but the insurance company is unlikely to consider it when offering you a settlement on their own.
In addition to likely missing out on compensation for pain and suffering, you also miss out on the chance to get punitive damages if you accept the insurance company’s offer.
Unlike money for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, punitive damages aren’t designed solely to compensate victims. Instead, they’re designed to punish at-fault parties for acting extremely recklessly—and they’re only awarded by a jury at trial.
Punitive damages are much rarer than damages for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, but they can add a substantial amount of money to your total damages if they’re applicable in your case. And if you accept the insurance company’s settlement offer, you lose the chance to get them. Speaking to a lawyer can help you determine if you might be eligible for punitive damages.
Just because the insurance company is unlikely to offer you a fair settlement right away doesn’t mean they will never offer you a fair settlement. However, getting to that point usually requires work, which includes collecting and presenting evidence of fault and damages.
It also usually requires several rounds of back-and-forth negotiation to arrive at a fair settlement for you and your damages. Trying to do this on your own is extremely difficult and often mentally exhausting, which is why hiring a lawyer to handle this process for you can make the process quicker and easier.
If the insurance company offers a fair settlement, your lawyer will advise you to accept it. However, sometimes insurance companies refuse to offer fair settlements no matter how much evidence is presented or rounds of negotiation are completed.
In this case, the only remaining option for getting compensation is to take the case to trial. Our law firm is dedicated to serving our clients’ best interests, whether that means negotiating for and accepting a fair or settlement or forcing the at-fault party to court.
There are many important reasons to get an experienced law firm on your side after a crash.
A lawyer can collect evidence and handle all of the paperwork while you focus on getting better. They can also handle all communication with the insurance company, including phone calls, emails, and letters. But perhaps most importantly, they can advise you on when or if you should accept the insurance company’s settlement offer.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio auto accident lawyers stop at nothing to help our clients get every penny they deserve for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We’ll review all settlement offers you receive, negotiate to help you get a fair deal, and take the at-fault party to court if necessary.
Contact us today for a free case review.
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