You pay your insurance premium in full and on time. You probably have done so for years without ever needing to make a claim. Then, one day, it happens. Someone else runs a red light, merges into a lane where you’re driving other otherwise makes a bad decision that causes a crash.
Suddenly, you’re facing massive medical expenses, days or weeks of missed work, and major expenses related to repairing or replacing your vehicle.
You file an insurance claim, seeking quick coverage. Your insurance company reviews your damages, the police report and the policy of the other driver. Knowing what they may collect from the policy of an at-fault driver can help your insurance company determine what to pay in the wake of your crash. Regardless of how positively you view your relationship with your insurance company, you should carefully review any settlement offer before agreeing to it.
First settlement offers are often lower than they should be
Your insurance company knows exactly how difficult injuries can make life in the wake of an unexpected collision. If you can’t work, you are probably concerned about paying your rent or mortgage, as well as all your other bills and obligations. You are also probably facing a growing pile of medical bills. Surgery, physical therapy and trauma care are not cheap.
Your insurance company expects you to be a little frantic and desperate. That will make their lowball offer seem reasonable or even like a lifeline. However much you may need money in the near future, you have to consider the ongoing costs of this accident. Before you decide about a settlement, you need to determine what this accident will likely cost you.
In addition to the quotes for car repairs, your lost wages so far and the existing medical bills, you should include estimates for future lost wages and ongoing medical expenses related to the crash. If the offer isn’t comparable to the reasonable and likely costs of this crash, you may need to politely but firmly decline the offer from your insurance company.
Explore all of your options for compensation
Your insurance company may offer a second settlement amount. You may find yourself in a position where you or someone on your behalf will need to negotiate with your insurance company or the company that wrote the policy for the driver who caused your crash. If insurance doesn’t cover all of your expenses, however, you may need to consider a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit against the other driver could allow you to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, in home nursing services or care, and even pain and suffering.