Never sign an agreement, waiver, or anything else from any r car insurance company without speaking with a lawyer first. Odds are the first offer will be much less than you can get. Here are some things to know about car accident settlement agreements.
They End the Matter Entirely
A settlement agreement is a contract between you and the insurance company. Once you sign it, you’re bound to all the terms in the agreement. The goal of the insurance company is to settle the matter entirely. They don’t want you to come back asking for more money over the same incident.
They know that most people don’t know the laws behind car accident settlements and sometimes will try to get a settlement offer to you before you can speak with a lawyer. An unscrupulous insurer might even hide language in something that seems essential to sign, like a medical release form.
Again, do not sign any document unless you have an attorney look over it first. You are not required to sign anything immediately. If the settlement agreement has improper language or clauses, your lawyer will want to get those changed.
You May Not Know the Value of Your Claim
Even if the amount seems reasonable to you based on what you know, the offer may be far less than what is fair you need. To get a fair amount, you need to have the experience of a personal injury attorney on your side.
Claim damages fall into two kinds: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the ones you can put a dollar amount on, like lost wages, your medical bills, your future medical bills, car repairs, and so on.
Non-economic damages are things like pain and suffering, the intangible damage is done to you because of your accident. You probably don’t know how much those can be worth, which ones you qualify for, and how to prove them to the insurer. A lawyer does.
It Is Not a Final Offer
Since a car accident settlement agreement is a contract, that means you can negotiate it. There is no legal requirement to sign an agreement immediately or lose it. You might have a certain amount of time to review it. Use this time to your advantage.
Take the agreement to your lawyer instead so they can analyze it, or if you have a lawyer, give the insurance representative their contact information. Your lawyer will read it over and start negotiating for the best settlement they can obtain in your situation.
Lawyers know how to speak the language of the insurance companies to get them to pay you what you’re truly owed. They also have the knowledge to sue the responsible parties, if necessary.
You May Lose the Right to Sue
If you sign the agreement, you’ll be giving up the right to sue the insured party for more money. But did you know you might also sign away the right to sue any other party in the accident?
In cases where there are multiple drivers or other responsible parties, it’s important to keep this right until your lawyer has investigated all the avenues of compensation.
You Can’t Claim Further Injuries After You Settle
Many car accident injuries don’t become apparent until days or weeks after the accident. Your body has an amazing ability to hide the pain in an emergency, including mental pain. When it feels safe again, you could suddenly feel pain where there was none.
This is great for survival, but terrible for car accident settlements. You could settle too soon and then discover an injury for which you were not compensated. You can’t go back to the insurer and ask for more money after you have settled.
Situations like this illustrate why a medical examination is so important after an accident. There may be injuries that are not initially apparent or your condition may deteriorate over time. you need to know the full extent of your injuries before agreeing to settle your case. Plus, early treatment will improve your prognosis.
You Don’t Have to Face the Insurers Alone
Insurance companies hire large numbers of lawyers to handle their cases. Why should you get to face all that legal firepower on your own? You don’t have to play their game. Instead, hire a personal injury attorney who knows how the game is played and will play to win on your behalf.