What If The Insurance Company Is Offering Me a Fair Settlement?

ELI5: Negligence

The Insurance Company’s Job Is to Make Money 

When you buy insurance, you pay a fee—called a premium—on a regular basis. You pay a premium in exchange for financial coverage (up to your policy limit, of course) in the event that you cause an accident. When people are injured in an accident, the insurance company of the at-fault party will make an settlement offer to the injured-party. A settlement offer is saying you agree to withdraw or waive any claims you may have against the at-fault party for injuries you sustained in that accident, in exchange for an agreed sum of money. It is in the insurance company’s best interest to get the injured party to accept the LOWEST settlement offer possible. When the injured party accepts a lower settlement offer, it means that the insurance company gets to keep more of the money it has collected from premiums of its customers. The insurance company’s job is not to make sure that all your injury-related expenses are paid; the insurance company’s job is to turn a profit. 

What Is a Fair Settlement? 

“The insurance company offered me a settlement that paid all my medical expenses. That seems fair, right?” A lot of people believe this. However, medical expenses aren’t the only type of expense a person incurs when they are injured in an accident—whether that’s a car crash or some other calamity. Many people have property damage, emotional distress, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earning potential, and more. Only a licensed personal injury attorney can tell you what additional benefits you may be entitled to as part of your personal injury claim. Whether or not you’ll have a claim for certain ailments will depend on the facts of your situation and the laws of your state. If the insurance company has offered you a settlement, do not accept it without consulting with a personal injury attorney first. While you may ultimately be the one who decides whether or not a settlement offer is fair, a licensed personal injury attorney can provide insight based on the benefits available under the law that perhaps aren’t being considered, and can tell you what others with similar injuries have received. That may influence or alter how you feel about whether the settlement is in fact fair or not. Many personal injury attorneys offer free consultations to help their potential clients determine the best course of action. This is something you should take advantage of, even if you believe the insurance company’s initial settlement offer was fair. If you ever feel like there are too many personal injury attorneys in the world, remember that if the insurance companies were fair, personal injury attorneys wouldn’t have a job. 

Don’t Personal Injury Attorney’s Take Your Money? 

If you choose to hire a personal injury attorney, a pre-negotiated portion of your settlement will go toward your attorney’s fees, however, in almost all cases, the client will get more when working with an attorney, even after the legal fees are subtracted from the settlement. Insurance companies nationwide have performed studies that support that, on average, they pay individuals with attorneys three times more than they pay people without. A lot of people say that it’s better to work with insurance by yourself since you’ll get to keep the whole settlement. However, insurance companies generally offer such small settlements, that the settlement you’ll get from working with an attorney will almost always be more than what you’d get from working with the insurance company—even after your legal fees are subtracted from the settlement. Personal injury lawyers also work on contingency. This means that if you go all the way to court, and you don’t get a settlement or judgment in your favor, you won’t have to pay your personal injury attorney anything. 

Is Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney Really Worth It? 

When you’re injured, especially when you’re injured enough to need a personal injury attorney, the last thing you’ll want to do is worry about is negotiating a settlement with the insurance company that’s actually fair. For example, did you know that if someone causes you  injury in a car crash, and you will probably need a rental car while yours is getting fixed. You may need to work with the at-fault party’s insurance to get that handled, and anytime you’re talking to the other side, you should probably have an attorney. What if you don’t have rental coverage, and there is a dispute about liability, so the at-fault party’s insurance isn’t willing to provide you with a rental car yet? Using an attorney can help you get paid for “loss of use” or payment for the days you were without a vehicle, and perhaps had to rent one yourself. If you hire a personal injury attorney, they’ll do that sort of work for you. Not only will they figure out everything that you’ve got a claim for, they’ll also figure out how much compensation is actually fair, and they’ll negotiate the compensation with the insurance company. Insurance companies can, and often do, dissuade people from hiring an attorney. They may say that hiring an attorney isn’t worth it, or that they can resolve your claim without the help of an attorney. Insurance adjusters will usually make you a quick, lowball offer, in hopes that they can get you to sign the settlement documents before you do with promises to take care of any additional bills later. If you sign a settlement release, there will be not payment later! The only way to know for sure if you’re getting what’s fair, is to schedule  a free consultation with a reputable personal injury attorney. 

But I Don’t Want to Go to Court! 

A lot of people don’t want to hire a personal injury attorney because they believe that hiring an attorney will drag out the process. This isn’t necessarily true. Remember, because personal injury attorneys take your case on a contingency, the faster they can resolve the case for you, the faster they get paid as well. Usually your interests will be aligned with that of your personal injury attorney.  Hiring an attorney doesn’t necessarily drag out the process. In fact, it can actually streamline the process—especially for those who know that they initial settlement offers are far too low. What usually makes the process “drag on”- is your need for treatment and to ensure that your injuries are completely healed. You never want to settle your case prior to knowing the true extent to which you are injured, because this will be your one and only chance to ensure that treatment gets completely paid for. While going to court does generally take more time, the vast majority of personal injury cases do not go to court. Most personal injury cases can be settled—meaning the personal injury attorney and insurance adjuster work together to negotiate a settlement. This way, the client can focus on their recovery and the personal injury attorney can deal with the claims process. “I don’t sue people”: Many people think that suing someone is greedy, or is going to put the person at-fault in the “poor house” because of an accident. Remember, if the at-fault party has insurance, they’ve already paid for their attorney and any settlement amount that gets paid to you through their monthly premiums. It’s very rare that you’ll ever take someone’s house and vehicles through a personal injury lawsuit, so if you’re worried about the at-fault party, don’t be! They’ll be okay. If you have been injured, and you need to speak with an attorney, contact Moxie Law Group today. 

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