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The insurance company offered me a settlement after my car accident. Can I accept it?

We do not advise anyone who has been in a car accident to accept an offer from an insurance company before talking to a car accident lawyer. How can you know if an offer is fair if you do not know your rights or what you are entitled to recover? You can’t. You need a lawyer to advise you to whether the offer is fair and whether you ought to accept it.

And be wary of the lawyer who will tell you right away that they know the value of your case. We cannot know the value of your case until we know how bad you are hurt. And that means giving it adequate time for you to get your medical care and to know how you are doing after your care is completed.

Insurance companies tend to rush to offer a settlement that may seem good on the surface but is typically much lower than you are entitled to, based on the facts of your case. Offering fast and early is a time-worn trick to get you to sign away your rights – meaning if you do accept an offer and discover your injuries are far more serious than you thought and are going to take longer to resolve if at all, you have no recourse to go back and seek more funds. Be aware that your settlement of the case does not have to be in writing. If you tell the insurance company over the phone that you will accept their offer or that you’re settling the case, then it is enforceable, and you have given up all your rights.

Insurance companies also offer less upfront if you do not have an attorney representing you, knowing that if you are not represented, they can offer whatever they think might work. Accident survivors with attorneys protecting their legal rights often receive up to three times what the insurance company offered. Going to court is not an option insurance adjusters want to deal with and as a result, they tend to revise their offers upward. If all else fails in terms of negotiations, your case can go to trial – something an insurance company does not want.

While you could accept an offer from an insurance company, be aware that you could be losing thousands of dollars in compensation that you may need to pay medical and other accident-related expenses. The other point to consider is that if you accept a low offer and then find out you cannot return to work and that you need life-long care, the amount you may have received is not going to cover your care.

Even if the insurance company representative is friendly and seems sincere, do not answer their questions. They are on a fishing expedition to get information to use against you to reduce the amount of the claim, or if possible, dismiss it. Always refer an insurance adjuster to your attorney. If you do not have one when they call, just tell them your attorney is going to handle things for you, and leave it at that.

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