Should I Take The First Offer Of A Car Accident Settlement?

Should I Take The First Offer Of A Car Accident Settlement?
Should I Take The First Offer Of A Car Accident Settlement

Receiving a car accident settlement offer may seem exciting, but it can also be detrimental to your case if you accept the first settlement offer presented to you. One of the best things you can do is negotiate with insurance companies or defense counsel regarding all settlement offers. However, you should never attempt to negotiate alone, as you want an experienced car accident attorney handling this process for you. Contact a car accident lawyer in Connecticut today to learn more about enforcing your legal rights and what to expect regarding settlement offers.

Do Not Accept the First Settlement Offer You Receive

No client should accept the first settlement offer they receive from an insurance company or any other defendant without legal guidance and advice. Settlement negotiations are complex, but attorneys can represent their clients' best interests when facing off against the insurance company. The first settlement offer you receive is only the first stage of settlement negotiations, and therefore, you must perceive settlement negotiations as a long-term endeavor. Insurance claim adjusters use tactics to save insurance companies money. If you suffer serious bodily injuries, then you should focus on seeking medical treatment as soon as possible. However, you must ensure you are as healthy as possible before accepting a settlement offer. Understanding the total damages associated with your case will help you understand a range of settlement offers you should consider acceptable. The majority of civil lawsuits get resolved through settlement negotiations, and only a small fraction of civil lawsuits go to trial. Always seek the assistance of an attorney with experience participating in settlement negotiations and has obtained successful settlements for injured clients. Also, in the State of Virginia, settlement agreements are enforceable in the same manner as written contracts.

The Tactics Insurers Use to Reduce Settlement Offers

Insurance companies use many unique tools and tactics to reduce the overall amounts they pay to settle civil lawsuits. One common technique is for insurance companies to offer low settlement offers during the early stages of settlement negotiations. Accident victims must have a comprehensive understanding of their injuries and any necessary surgeries to recover their health. Although some individuals may be tempted to accept low settlement offers, it is more beneficial for them to negotiate with insurance companies. Recorded statements are often central to an insurance company’s strategy to prevent paying out a full settlement amount. If an accident victim receives a request from an insurance company to provide any recorded statement, they should decline it immediately. Insurance company representatives will attempt to use any statement to argue that the accident victim did not seek medical treatment for their injuries or that the subject incident did not cause their injuries.

Damages Injured Victims May Claim

It is also possible that an insurance company representative will challenge the total amount of your damages. Calculating your total general damages and special damages will help you during settlement negotiations. However, many insurance companies will attempt to undervalue the amount of your claim. Understanding how to substantiate your total damages calculation is integral to your civil lawsuit. You do not have to accept a settlement offer from an insurance company. Invoking your power to reject an offer will demonstrate to the insurance company that you want to pursue a reasonable monetary compensation for your car accident injuries.

The Documentary Evidence Insurance Adjusters Rely On When Assessing the Value of Your Insurance Claim

Insurance claim adjusters will use many different types of records to assess the potential value of your insurance claim. The following are some of the most common records insurance companies will request when analyzing your insurance claim:

  • Tax documents
  • Written proof of property damage
  • Earnings statements
  • Medical records
  • Medical bills

The current medical bills associated with your injuries may not fully account for your total medical expenses. For example, you may need to undergo additional surgeries, or you may suffer future complications due to your injuries. Speaking with an attorney is the best thing you can do before you provide an insurance company with copies of your medical records.

Drafting a Demand Letter

Attorneys typically draft demand letters and provide a summary of the damages that should be paid by the insurance company that insures the at-fault party. Most demand letters include the following information:

  • The total sum the injured party demands in financial compensation
  • Any applicable general damages, including pain and suffering
  • A list of special damages, including lost income and medical expenses
  • A total summary of all the medical treatment associated with the victim’s injuries
  • An explanation of the accident and how the at-fault party injured the accident victim

The demand letter is generally the first stage of settlement negotiations in civil lawsuits. Personal injury cases are unpredictable, and sometimes insurers will dismiss a demand for compensation and require the injured party to file a civil complaint for damages. A complaint is a legal filing that initiates a civil lawsuit.

A primary care physician will often help injured patients determine the course and scope of their medical treatment plan. Sometimes, an accident victim needs to undergo surgery, and at other times, an accident victim may need to schedule appointments with several medical specialists. Keeping track of all your recommended medical treatment will ensure that you are in the best health possible after suffering injuries during an accident. A victim should seek financial compensation from an insurance company only after receiving medical treatment. Medical records can substantiate your claims, and it is necessary to provide documentation regarding all the medical treatment you received due to your injuries.

The Injuries You Suffer During An Accident May Become More Severe Over Time

It is possible that some accident victims may believe they suffered only minor injuries during a car accident. However, some accidents may produce severe injuries that do not produce any discernible symptoms until days or weeks after the date of the incident. Speak with your primary care physician about whether or not you need to see a medical specialist for additional treatment. You might not feel serious pain or see any visible injuries due to the accident, yet symptoms may appear weeks or months after the accident. Assessing your injuries is critical to forming a reasonable basis for calculating the total damages amount associated with your personal injury case.

You Should Reject the First Settlement Offer Presented To You

No law can force you to accept a settlement offer. It is your decision whether or not to accept or reject a settlement offer, and no insurance company representative can require you to accept a settlement offer. A settlement offer may not contain a sufficient amount to cover your medical expenses and property damage. In such a case, it is in your best interest to reject the initial settlement offer related to an insurance claim or civil lawsuit.

Auto Insurance Policy

It is also possible that the insurance company intentionally undervalued your insurance claim amount. Therefore, the settlement offer you receive reflects this low amount. Do not accept these initial settlement offers. Most settlement offers presented early during a civil lawsuit help insurance claim adjusters test the waters to determine if you are likely to accept a low settlement offer.

The Types of Damages Injured Victims May Claim in Civil Lawsuits

Calculating the total damages amount associated with your case means you must understand which damages you may seek in a personal injury lawsuit. Damages are generally divided into general damages and special damages. Sometimes, a party will claim punitive damages, but this is the exception rather than the rule. General damages are also termed non-economic damages, and these are the unquantifiable elements of an accident victim’s injuries. Common examples of general damages include the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

Special damages are sometimes referred to as economic damages, and these are more quantifiable elements of a victim’s losses. The following are common examples of special damages:

  • Lost income
  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Housing costs

Understanding how to calculate the total damages related to a personal injury case is essential to understanding where to begin during settlement negotiation. You do not want to accept the first settlement offer you receive because, 99 percent of the time, it will not reflect an accurate calculation of your total damages.

Insurance Companies Will Investigate You and Your Personal Life

Insurance companies will analyze your behavior and examine many details about your life. Often, insurance companies will investigate any prior accidents in which you suffered injuries. They want to know if you have a history of filing accident claims against insurance companies. Social media platforms contain useful information that insurance companies may use to weaken your claim. You should not post photographs of your injuries on any social media application. Also, do not discuss the details regarding your accident on any social media platform. The best thing to do during this time is to focus on your medical treatment and how long it will take you to heal from your injuries. An insurance claim representative may contact you after they have investigated your online presence and your current economic situation. You need to maintain a low profile online while an insurance company is assessing the merits of your insurance claim.

Litigation, Trial, and Appeal

Although the majority of civil lawsuits do not go to trial, it is plausible that you will be a participant in a civil trial. Only approximately five percent of civil cases go to trial, but it is still possible that your case will go before a judge or a jury. You do not want to accept a low settlement offer if it is possible that you may recover a greater sum at trial. It is impossible to know how a judge or jury will assess your case, but if you do not receive a favorable offer in the settlement negotiation phase, then you can file a civil lawsuit to seek financial compensation for your injuries.

A Civil Lawsuit May Have a Different Value at Trial

A civil lawsuit requires an assessment of its own merits and in the context of the parties involved in litigation. A claim may potentially bring in a larger sum by going to trial. The jurors may be more sympathetic toward the injured party, or the judge may be willing to admit evidence that is favorable to your theory of the case. Accepting a low settlement offer at the outset of the negotiation period may be disadvantageous to your interests. A skilled personal injury lawyer will explain the costs and benefits of accepting any settlement offer.

The Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Hiring a personal injury lawyer will enable you to benefit from attorney-client privilege and attorney-client confidentiality. Protecting confidential communications between yourself and your attorney is critical to the outcome of your case. Therefore, the more information you can keep private and undisclosed, the stronger your civil lawsuit will be. Also, attorneys understand how to negotiate with insurance claims adjusters. By retaining a personal injury lawyer, you can ensure someone is skillfully reinforcing your legal rights. Therefore, having legal representation will enable you to present clear legal arguments regarding your injuries. A lawyer also acts as an advocate who provides you with guidance, legal advice, and recommendations for effective case strategies. Most attorneys will engage in settlement negotiations in a manner that will benefit their clients over the course of a civil case.

Brian Flood, Car Accident Lawyer

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer If You Want to Know More About Settlement Negotiations and Civil Lawsuits

Speaking to an attorney is one of the most productive things you can do if you have further questions about settlement negotiations. A knowledgeable litigator can assess how the facts of your case may influence the potential length of settlement negotiations. As you learn more about the role settlement negotiations play in civil lawsuits, the more comfortable you will be working with a car accident attorney who knows how to represent your legal interests with zeal.

Brian Flood


Brian has dedicated his entire legal career to helping accident victims. By choice, he has never represented the interests of an insurance company.

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