This is a hard question to answer as multiple factors will need to be considered. Insurance companies routinely make settlement offers very early on in the process because they know car crash victims are in need of compensation and unaware of how much their claim may be worth.
It is important to mention that some verbal agreements may be binding while others may not be. If you agreed to an offer over the phone but have not yet signed anything, negotiations may not necessarily end. You may want to have an experienced attorney advocating for your rights in these situations.
At Sigman Janssen, we have helped many car crash victims pursue the maximum compensation possible for their damages. An initial consultation costs nothing and there is no obligation to retain our services.
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Are Verbal Settlement Agreements Enforceable?
Maybe, based on the particulars of that agreement. A verbal settlement may be enforced if there was an offer, an acceptance of that offer and consideration, meaning each party exchanged something of value.
Verbal settlement agreements are often made over the phone. Insurance companies will generally call car crash victims and make settlement offers to settle claims as quickly as possible. If a car crash victim accepts a settlement offer in person, he or she is more likely to sign the offer soon afterward.
You may think that it may be challenging for an insurance company to prove whether or not you verbally agreed to a settlement over the phone. However, if you agreed to have the insurance company record your phone conversation and you accepted a settlement offer, it may be harder to rescind the offer and negotiate for more compensation. Even if the conversation was not recorded and you agreed to a settlement, the insurance company will likely have the conversation written down.
You have every right to discuss any settlement offer you receive with an attorney before agreeing to it. Unlike the insurance company, which is focused on paying out the least amount in claims, an attorney will be focused on representing your best interests.
If you have already verbally agreed to a settlement offer, an attorney may also be able to help you formally rescind the offer to negotiate for full compensation.
How Do I Respond to a Settlement Offer?
You are not obligated to give an answer right away. You can inform the insurance company that you need some time to think about the settlement offer or that you will be consulting an attorney about it.
You may be feeling some guilt or pressure for making the insurance company wait for your decision. However, insurance companies will do whatever it takes to convince car crash victims that the initial settlement offer is the only offer they will get.
Insurance companies may even attempt to discourage you from seeking legal representation, arguing that half of your settlement will go to legal fees. This is not the case. The reality is that car crash victims who hire attorneys are more likely to obtain more compensation than victims who do not.
What Happens After Signing a Settlement Offer?
Once a settlement offer has been signed, it is very difficult to get out of it. Settlement offers also typically contain clauses that release insurance companies from any future liability for the accident.
Unless you are able to prove that the insurance company committed fraud or coerced you into signing, it is not likely that you will be able to pursue more compensation.
It is important that you do not sign anything until you discuss the offer with an attorney. You want to make sure that you are adequately being compensated for your damages, especially if you sustained a serious injury that may require future medical care. If you agree too soon to a settlement offer and your injury worsens, the insurance company will not be responsible for additional expenses.
Why the Initial Settlement Offer is Usually Low
Initial settlement offers are usually a lot lower than the actual value of a claim. Insurance companies are interested in lining their own pockets, not in offering car crash victims full compensation.
The insurance company is hoping that you are desperate enough to accept the initial offer. They know how costly medical bills are and that you may be unable to work while recovering from your injuries. They know the financial, physical and emotional burden a crash can place on victims and their families.
Insurance companies also know the challenges in accessing the full value of a claim early in the process. Car crash victims need to be able to complete their treatment so their doctors can see if ongoing treatment is needed. Then your attorney can start to determine what your claim’s value may be.
Get the Legal Help You Need
If you have verbally accepted a settlement offer, you may still have legal options available. Our firm has a proven track record, recovering millions for our clients, including crash victims.
An initial consultation to review your claim with an Appleton-based automobile crash attorney is 100 percent free and completely confidential. There are zero upfront fees if we represent you.
Call (877) 888-5201 for legal help today.