If you are involved in a car accident, it is possible that the other driver will try to pay you without getting the insurance companies. That driver’s insurance company may also try to offer to cut a check in an effort to settle the case quickly. However, it is generally not in your best interest to accept payment before you talk with an attorney.
You Don’t Know What Your Case Is Worth
The best reason to talk to an attorney before accepting a settlement offer is because you don’t immediately know how much your case is worth. This is because you may be entitled to compensation equaling 100 percent of your medical bills as well as lost future earnings. Since you don’t know how much it will cost to get treatment after the accident, there is no way to know if an offer to pay you $1,000 or $100,000 is adequate.
Personal Injury Attorneys Offer Free Consultations
It is important to note that most personal injury attorneys will offer free consultations. Therefore, you can talk about your case with legal counsel without having to worry about how it will impact your ability to pay other bills. This means that you have nothing to lose and possibly thousands of dollars or more to gain by asking if a settlement offer is in your best interest.
Accepting a Settlement Offer May End Your Case
If you do choose to accept a settlement offer from the driver who hit you or his or her insurance company, it could be the only compensation that you see. While you may try to sue for more money later, the fact that you have already been compensated may complicate your case. Therefore, it is generally more effective to file a lawsuit to preserve your rights.
From there, you can further analyze the settlement offer to determine if it is in your best interests. If you have to go to trial, it is likely that a jury award will match or exceed whatever you were offered originally to settle. However, the difference is that you now know that you haven’t left any money on the table.
Neither Party Wants to Pay What They Really Owe
You probably understand that neither the driver who hurt you nor the driver’s insurance company is interested in paying what they owe. Instead, they are trying to resolve the matter while giving you as little as possible to go away. By accepting a settlement, you are letting the other side benefit from your desperation. Ideally, you will realize that they are just as desperate and use that to your advantage to get 100 of the compensation called for under state law.
What If the Check Bounces?
It is possible that a driver who is offering to pay you right away is offering money that he or she doesn’t really have. If that person’s check bounces, he or she could be in another state or otherwise go into hiding before you realize what happened. There is also a possibility that a check from that driver’s insurance company won’t arrive for days or weeks after the accident. Therefore, you could be accepting less than what your case is worth without any guarantee that you get the money in a timely manner or at all.
If a driver or a driver’s insurance company offers to settle the case quickly, it is rarely in your best interest to do so. Instead, talk with an attorney as soon as you are physically able to. The consultation is free, and you can talk about any settlement offer that you have received in greater detail before choosing what to do with it.