When you are the victim of a personal injury, the damage can go far beyond the physical pain and suffering you endure. Lost wages, loss of independence, feelings of depression and even suffering from post traumatic stress disorder can be just a few of the lingering effects of a personal injury. When you are hurt, in pain and trying to pay the medical bills, the therapy bills and simply move forward with life, it can be difficult to know how to handle your personal injury claim.
Often in the immediate aftermath of an accident or injury, the liable party’s insurance carrier will make an offer of a financial settlement in an effort to quickly resolve the case. While it may be tempting to simply accept the insurance check and call this chapter of your life closed, it is extremely important to understand all of your options before you agree to take the settlement.
What Happens If I Take the Settlement Payment?
If you accept the insurance settlement from your personal injury, your case is considered closed. This means that you no longer have the right to seek additional monies from the liable party should you require more medical care, therapeutic rehabilitation, in home care or other expenses resulting from the accident or injury.
In some cases where injuries are minor, this may not be a factor to take into consideration, but for victims of major accidents or injuries, this could cause major financial hardship in the future. For instance, if you accept a settlement check and find yourself unable to resume normal life, work and activities, you cannot seek additional payment for the injury. Some injuries have a long lasting and far reaching impact that is not immediately apparent, especially during the stressful and chaotic time right after an accident and that is exactly when the settlement offer will be made.
Once you accept a settlement offer, you release the liable party and their insurance carrier from any responsibility, fault or future claims and you are on your own to cover the cost of any treatment, medications, physical therapy, equipment or attention you may need. If you accept the settlement, once you sign and return the agreement you a should receive a check within thirty days.
What Happens if I Reject the Settlement?
If you decide to reject the settlement offer, you can make a counteroffer to the insurance company. Let them know why you believe your costs associated with the injury are higher than their offer and back it with any documentation you have. Doctor’s prognosis, medication costs, recovery timeline in relation to lost work and wages and all other costs associated with your injury should be included.
If the insurance company declines your counteroffer, you can chose to go to trial. If you take this route, be sure you include legal and attorney fees in your settlement or you could end up with less than you need to cover the cost of your treatment and your legal fees.
How Do I Know If The Offer is Good?
Most people have very limited knowledge of how much their injury claim is worth, so it pays to have help from an expert. A personal injury attorney can help guide you through the process, help you understand your rights and connect you with the right people to accurately determine the extent, nature and severity of your injuries so you can et a better, more comprehensive and accurate idea of how long treatment will take and how much it will cost. Once this information is determined, it is much easier to tell if the settlement will cover you’re expenses or not and what course of action is best for you to take.
After an accident and injury, it can be hard to rebuild your life and reclaim your health. Make sure you protect yourself by carefully reviewing any settlement offers you need and be sure you have as much information as possible about your injury and recovery prognosis so you can accurately assess what you need to take care of yourself financially. Take your time considering your options, seek legal help and counsel and make sure you will not be a victim a second time by taking a settlement that will not cover the true costs of your injury.