Have You Received a Lowball Settlement Offer from an Insurance Company?
One of the most important reasons for hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is to obtain a favorable settlement agreement. Defendants and insurance companies will do everything they can to pay you as little as possible for your personal injury claim. However, the bare minimum is unlikely to cover your medical bills and other damages. If you’ve found yourself Googling “not happy with settlement offer” in search of answers, this post is for you.
A personal injury lawyer with Reich & Binstock can help you negotiate a fair personal injury settlement offer in your case. We’ve handled settlement negotiations for decades, won billions in financial compensation for our clients, and taken on whole teams of lawyers in defense of our clients’ rights. If you’re unhappy with the insurance company’s settlement offer in your case, we can help you fight for full and fair compensation. To schedule a free consultation with our skilled personal injury team, please call our Houston law firm at 713-622-7271 today.
Why Do Insurance Companies Offer Unfair Settlements?
The short answer is that every insurance company exists to make a profit. They care more about their bottom line than negotiating a fair settlement offer for a victim in a personal injury case. Paying out as little as possible is actually one way they try to maximize their profits. The other way is collecting insurance premiums.
In other words, offering plaintiffs as little as possible in personal injury cases protects their bottom line. Having an attorney on your side negates their ability to take advantage of you by offering a lowball settlement. This is why you should always consult with an attorney before accepting an early settlement offer.
How Does a Personal Injury Settlement Negotiation Work?
The vast majority of personal injury cases resolve with settlement offers. Therefore, the settlement conference is one of the most important parts of an accident claim. In general, the process of settlement negotiations has the following steps.
Calculation of Damages: Before speaking with the insurance company, you should hire a personal injury lawyer. They will have the skills necessary to give you an accurate valuation of your claim. With an attorney on your side, you can make an informed decision on whether or not to accept an offer. Some of the damages you may be able to recover in a personal injury or wrongful death case include the following.
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Attorney’s fees
- Lost income through benefits and earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Initial Settlement Offer: Either side can initiate the first settlement offer. The insurance company may initiate the offer, or the plaintiff may send a demand letter to the insurance company. If the insurance company makes an offer before someone sends a demand letter, the offered amount will likely be much lower than the true value of the damages.
From there, the plaintiff can either accept or reject a settlement offer. Keep in mind that if you accept the initial offer, you will be barred from a higher future settlement offer. Even if you realize after the fact that the settlement was far too low, you cannot ask for additional damages.
Settlement Negotiations: The plaintiff and insurance company will then proceed with negotiations about the settlement amount. The defendant’s lawyer and insurance company will fight for a lower amount, while the plaintiff and their attorney will fight for a higher amount. In most cases, negotiations will not proceed until the victim fully recovers from their injuries.
Personal Injury Trial: If no agreement is reached about the settlement, the parties involved will likely proceed to trial.
Do I Have to Accept a Settlement Offer I Think Is Too Low?
Absolutely not. Your attorney will advise you of the approximate value of your claim by calculating the total sum of your damages. If insurance companies offer victims settlements that are too low to cover their damages, they are not required to accept.
What to Do If You Don’t Like Your Settlement Offer
If you feel that your personal injury settlement offer is too low to cover your medical expenses and other losses, you can decline the offer. It’s a good idea to seek advice from an attorney before declining an offer. They can handle the rejection and negotiation of the settlement offer on your behalf.
What Happens If You Reject a Settlement Offer?
Rejecting a settlement offer bars you from changing your mind later. Once you reject the offer, it is off the table. However, nothing really happens when you reject an offer. The insurance company may or may not make another offer. If they do not, your case may proceed to trial where your attorney will fight for fair compensation.
What Happens If You Accept a Settlement Offer?
Once you sign the settlement agreement, you release the defendant and their insurance company from further liability. In other words, you can’t go back and file a claim for more money. This is true even if you realize that the settlement wasn’t enough to cover your expenses.
How Long Do You Have to Accept a Settlement Offer?
Usually, a settlement offer will have a deadline. If you fail to accept the offer by that deadline, this will be taken as a rejection of the offer.
Can I Change My Mind on a Settlement Offer?
No. Once you accept or reject an offer, you cannot go back and change your mind. Settlement offers are like contracts. When you sign them, they are binding. If you find information that causes you to change your mind, this may or may not change the validity of the settlement. The best way to know for sure whether a settlement is fair is to speak with your attorney.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help with a Lowball Settlement Offer?
Personal injury attorneys have the experience and training necessary to negotiate with insurers for a fair settlement. It’s difficult to get a full picture of your expenses without skilled legal counsel. An attorney will help you add up your costs from the accident so you can seek compensation that will be more than enough to cover those expenses. Without an attorney, it is likely that the insurance company will take advantage of you.
Do I Need an Attorney to Get a Fair Settlement?
Not necessarily. However, insurance companies will take advantage of a plaintiff’s lack of knowledge and try to get them to accept a lowball offer. It is very unlikely that they will offer you a fair settlement unless you have a skilled legal professional on your side.
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Reich & Binstock Today
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence and you want to file a claim, you need help from a skilled Houston personal injury lawyer to ensure you receive a fair offer. The team at Reich & Binstock will fight to ensure that your rights are protected both in settlement conferences and at trial. To schedule your free case evaluation with us, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.