There are generally two ways accident victims recover compensation after an accident. They either settle the claim with the insurance company or take the case to court and let a jury decide.
Once both parties agree to a settlement, and the agreement is signed, victims cannot obtain more compensation for their damages. That is why victims need to make sure the settlement provides all the compensation they will need for medical treatment, lost wages and other damages.
There are several factors to consider before accepting a settlement offer from the insurance company. However, you should not consider these things on your own.
Our Appleton personal injury lawyers have helped countless injured victims settle their claims. We know how to evaluate settlement offers. We are prepared to help you consider the best course of action for your unique case. We do not charge you anything up front and there are no fees while we work with you.
Below, we discuss some of the factors to consider before agreeing to settle a claim.
Do You Know the Full Extent of Your Damages?
You have the right to pursue compensation for all your damages after an accident caused by another party’s negligence. This includes economic and non-economic damages.
Before you can accept a settlement, you should know how much your case is worth. Remember that the insurance company will try to pay out as little as they can.
How Much Have You Spent on Medical Care?
After an accident, you need medical attention, not just to stabilize and diagnose your injuries, but also to treat them. These are all costs that should be compensated by the liable party.
These are common examples of medical costs that are often included in a settlement:
- Ambulatory services
- Emergency room visit
- Hospital stays
- Medical equipment
- Follow-up doctors’ appointments
- Physical therapy
- And more
You should also consider the costs of future medical expenses, especially if you suffered permanent injuries.
Did Your Injuries Affect Your Ability to Work?
Some injury victims may not be able to work immediately after an accident. Some may never be able to work in the same capacity they did prior to the accident.
That means victims will lose income, temporarily and maybe permanently. Whether you were unable to work for a short time or an extended period, the settlement the liable party offers should cover all your lost wages.
A claim for lost wages may also include the following:
- Overtime pay – only if your job frequently required you work overtime hours
- Bonuses – if your injury caused you to lose a bonus
- Paid time off (PTO) – Although you cannot recover the hours you used, you can receive compensation for the vacation or sick days you were forced to use while recovering from your injuries.
- Employee benefits – If you were forced to leave your job or find a different one you may be able to recover compensation for the benefits you lost, such as 401(k) contributions or health insurance.
Future damages for the loss of earning capacity should also be considered before accepting a settlement. These are wages you would have earned had you been able to continue working in the same capacity you did before the accident.
How Has the Accident Affected Your Personal Life?
An accident changes a lot of aspects of a person’s life, especially if the injuries he or she suffered are permanent. Some of those injuries may not be visible, either. For example, you may begin to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the accident.
Your relationship with your spouse and other immediate family may also be impacted. Especially if an injury left you paralyzed. You may not be able to play with your children the way you used to.
Then there is the physical pain you experience after an injury. This can make everyday life much more difficult and affect your ability to do the things you used to do.
Although it is difficult to determine the value of pain and suffering, it is something that must be considered before accepting a settlement. The experienced lawyers at Sigman Janssen know how to evaluate non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
Have You Tried Negotiating a Higher Settlement?
It is important to note that the insurance company can make another offer, even if they tell you they will not make another one. This is a tactic they use to try and get injury victims to settle quickly.
However, the insurance company is unlikely to make another offer unless you are represented by an attorney. The insurance company is even more likely to make another offer if your lawyer has taken cases to court. Insurance companies would like to avoid the courtroom.
You should not accept a settlement offer until you and your attorney have discussed it and tried to negotiate for more compensation. The first offer is often far below the full value of a claim.
What Are Your Chances of Winning the Case in Court?
Before accepting a settlement, your lawyer must also consider how likely you are to win the case in court. This is especially important when the insurance company is refusing to increase its offer.
If your lawyer has solid evidence proving that another party is liable for your damages, filing a lawsuit may be a viable course of action. Filing a lawsuit may push the insurance company to increase their offer.
There is a risk in taking the case to court because the jury might not rule in your favor. If you settle, you know you will receive compensation for your damages.
You need an experienced attorney to evaluate your case. That way you can trust in his or her assessment of your case.
Call a Knowledgeable Attorney Today
You should not accept a settlement offer from the insurance company before speaking to a lawyer. Even if you think you have calculated the extent of your damages and negotiated with the insurance company for a fair settlement. If you do not have a lawyer on your side who is ready to file a lawsuit, the insurance company is not likely to offer fair compensation.
Our attorneys are prepared to discuss the details of your claim to see how we can help.
Call (920) 260-4528 to schedule a free legal consultation.