After an accident, insurance companies sometimes offer you a settlement. At first glance, it appears to be a vast sum of money, and accepting it is tempting. Before jumping to take this money, here are some questions you should ask yourself.
Why Were You Offered This Settlement?
Consider this settlement broadly. Why is the insurance company offering you this money? Maybe it’s out of the goodness of their hearts, and they just want to do the right thing.
You know that isn’t the case. Insurance companies notoriously do not like paying benefits. Their entire business model is centered around taking in mountains of cash, doling it out only when absolutely necessary.
The insurance company is looking out for itself. There is nothing generous or altruistic about the money they are offering. In the long run, this offer is designed to benefit them, not you. Keep that in mind the second you are offered a settlement, then consider the following situations.
Are You Sure You’re Okay?
Commonly, people believe that they are fine after a big car accident. They feel okay now, and they don’t want to make a fuss. They drive home, only to develop severe pain later. Remember that immediately after a car accident, your body is coursing with adrenaline. This hormone is an evolutionary holdover, designed to dull your pain, giving you the chance to get to safety. Once it wears off, the pain begins.
Before signing or agreeing to anything, go to a doctor. Go as soon as you can after the wreck. Your doctor may be able to detect an injury early and get you in treatment right away. This will help you heal more quickly and effectively, and it can keep you from agreeing to an insurance company’s bad deal.
Medical treatment doesn’t always happen all at once. Doctors could discover damage wears you down over time, even if you feel okay now. If so, further treatment is required. You’ll need to make regular appointments. This could lead to surgeries and visits to other specialists. On top of that, there are prescriptions to take as you heal. In short, medical treatment is expensive.
This is especially true if you suffer a catastrophic, life-altering injury. A severe spinal injury, for example, can cost over one million dollars to treat in just the first year of recovery. With each passing year, the cost decreases, but it could still cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to maintain your quality of life.
The insurance company wants to get to you quickly. It knows that injuries can present themselves later. By giving you money upfront, it is shielding itself from the long-term expenses associated with your recovery. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you may not be able to collect any more compensation.
How Badly Was Your Car Damaged?
The damage to a car is similar to an injury. The car may seem to run fine, minus a few strange noises. What you don’t see or hear, however, is deep, internal damage that begins to erode and grow worse. Over time, what started as a few dings makes the car inoperable. Just like you would with your body, get your car checked right after your accident. The damage could be far more extensive than what you originally believed.
Remember, the insurance company wants to avoid paying for future repairs. By offering you a lump sum, it protects itself from paying for future repairs.
What if You Miss Work?
Right after a car accident, you have no way of predicting the future. Physical recovery can be much more involved than you initially believed, as can repairs to your vehicle. Either of these issues can cause you to miss work.
What happens if you burn through all your sick time? Then you are probably taking unpaid time off, losing income. More devastatingly, an injury could cause you to lose your employment altogether.
Future income could be affected as well. Perhaps you were on the verge of gaining a big promotion, but your recovery got in the way. You still have your original job waiting for you, but this loss of potential income counts when you need compensation.
Taking a settlement could leave your loss of income uncompensated. This leaves you in a financial bind, trying to make up for what you’ve lost coupled with any other expenses you accumulate.
Speak with an Attorney
Before signing or agreeing to any settlements, talk to a lawyer. Allow them to overlook the deal. They should be able to anticipate tricks and help protect you from them. Remember, a settlement is a legally binding agreement. By taking it, you are probably cutting yourself off from any future compensation, which could leave you in a financial bind later.
If you’ve been offered a settlement, allow us to review it before signing. We can help you spot a bad deal and offer advice on how to proceed. Our number is (817) 591-4222, and you can contact us online.