Should I Take the Insurance Company’s First Settlement Offer?
Speak to a Car Wreck Lawyer First
You’ve been in an accident and you’re hurt. You’ve been to the hospital, but you don’t know how much it costs, because you haven’t been sent a bill yet. Worse, you have to go back, and you may need ongoing physical therapy.
You can’t work because of your injury. You have some sick time built up, so you haven’t lost your paycheck, but it’s running out and you don’t know when you’ll be able to get back.
Your car is wrecked. Your brother has been letting you use his, but that’s not going to last. You need a new car, but you don’t have enough in savings for a down payment.
Out of the blue, the driver of the other car’s insurance company calls you, offering you some money. You’ve thought about calling a Los Angeles injury attorney, but you haven’t yet. You don’t know if you want to get an attorney involved. It seems like a lot—certainly enough to put a down payment on a new car—but you wonder: should I take it?
The short answer is: NO! As tempting as that money may be, it is almost certainly not a fair amount of money, given what you have been through. It may not even be enough to cover all of the bills that you will have. Of course, if you are not comfortable negotiating, that is what a good car lawyer is for. Here are a few reasons why you should never take the insurance company’s first offer, and why getting a good lawyer is a better move.
You may not know what your bills are
In any accident where you are hurt and require medical treatment, it may take a while to finally receive all of the bills for the treatment that you received. If you have health insurance, your bills will be sent to your insurer first, they may make some payments, and then you will have to pay the rest. But your health insurer may take months to actually process those claims and send you the final bill. And even when they do, you may not even know how much they paid the hospital.
Only the simplest injuries require a single visit to the doctor. Many injuries require follow-up visits, or even regular, ongoing visits, like for physical or occupational therapy. You may require months or years more treatment when the other driver’s insurance company calls you, offering you money.
Some injuries may not even appear until days or weeks after the accident. This is especially true of emotional or psychological injuries, like PTSD.
Once you take the insurance company’s money, your claim is over. You cannot recover any more money, even if you incur more costs, and even if you call a car wreck attorney in Los Angeles. Your insurance company will have a lien on whatever money you do get, allowing them to recover some of the money that they paid for your injuries. A good auto accident lawyer in Los Angeles has represented hundreds of people in accidents, and knows how to negotiate with both the other driver’s insurance company and your insurance company to make sure that you receive the most money possible.
The First Offer is Always Low
When the insurance company hears about your accident, they have one goal: close the file as quickly and as cheaply as possible. When the adjuster calls you, nothing would make him happier than for you to take his offer.
The first offer is always a fraction of the full amount of money that the insurance company is willing to settle the case for. Even if the adjuster tells you that the money is his “full authority,” this is almost never the case. There is no law that says that an insurance company must be honest in negotiating with you, so they typically aren’t.
The insurance company does not see your claim like going to the store, picking something off the shelf, and paying the price on the tag. The insurance company sees your case as more like buying a house or a car—negotiation is expected.
No insurance company starts negotiating by offering the maximum amount that they are willing to pay, and nor should you start any negotiation by telling the insurance company the minimum amount you are willing to take. Just like you expect the insurance company to go up, they will expect you to come down, so you want to leave yourself some room to move and still get a satisfactory amount of money. A good car wreck settlement lawyer Los Angeles knows all of the tricks, and get negotiate on your behalf.
You May Not Know What Your Claim is Worth
What is a satisfactory amount of money? The insurance company knows what your claim is worth—they settle thousands of claims a year. You may never have another claim in your life. The insurance company knows this, and knows that by dangling an impressive sounding amount of money in front of you, they can get you to take too little money.
By getting a Los Angeles personal injury law firm on your side, you bring in a person with just as much information and experience as the insurance company. An attorney knows what’s fair, not just what sounds impressive. Your lawyer can negotiate effectively with the insurance company, taking the time required to present your claim to them in the best light possible. And an auto accident attorney in Los Angeles is not afraid to go twelve rounds negotiating—if it takes a lot of back and forth to get you what you are due, then that is what they will do.
If you’ve been hurt and don’t feel comfortable negotiating with a giant insurance company, call a good Los Angeles injury lawyer today.
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