Should I Take the First Offer of a Car Accident Settlement?
Soon after a car accident, you may be contacted by the insurance company with an offer to settle any claims you may have against the other driver or the insurance company in exchange for a financial payment. While it can be tempting to get money now to help pay bills after a car accident, you should never take the first settlement offer from the insurance company. The first offer is almost never the best offer that you can get from the insurer, and in the first days and weeks after a car accident, you are unlikely to know the full extent of your expenses and losses from the accident.
What to Know About Dealing with Insurance Companies
Here are a few key points to keep in mind when dealing with insurance companies:
- Insurance adjusters are trained, experienced negotiators – Remember that the insurance company’s adjusters often handle dozens or hundreds of accident claims at a time. As a result, they have extensive experience getting car accident victims to settle for less than the fair value of their claim. Because insurance companies have a financial interest in getting you to settle for as little money as possible, adjusters will investigate claims with an eye on obtaining evidence they can use to minimize your losses or deny your claim altogether.
- The other driver’s insurance company is definitely not on your side – If you file a liability claim against the other driver’s insurance, you should realize that while your insurance company has a contractual and customer relationship with you, the other driver’s insurer does not have that same legal relationship and thus might be even more motivated to minimize your settlement.
- The insurance companies can use anything you say against you – When you talk to an insurance adjuster, they are carefully monitoring everything you say, hoping you slip up and say something they can point to when denying your claim or offering you a low-ball settlement. For example, an adjuster may ask you how you’re feeling; if you instinctually respond that you are feeling “fine,” the insurance company may use that to argue that you have recovered from your injuries. Ideally, you should let your attorney handle all communications with the insurance companies.
What to Know About the Insurance Company’s First Settlement Offer
While the insurance company’s first settlement offer rarely provides fair and full compensation to you after a car accident, you are not obligated to accept that first settlement. Instead, you have the right to negotiate by making a counteroffer. If you are contacted by an insurer with a settlement offer, you should instruct the adjuster to contact your car accident lawyer; if you have not yet hired an attorney, simply take down the adjuster’s information and inform them that you will have a lawyer contact them soon. A car accident lawyer will have the experience necessary to properly value your claim; a lawyer will also be familiar with all the negotiating tactics and tricks that insurance companies use, and can aggressively push to get the insurer to agree to a settlement that is fair to you.
How to Get the Best Car Accident Settlement
Tips for pursuing maximum compensation in a car accident settlement include:
- Hire a seasoned car accident attorney as soon as possible
- Gather all evidence and records that you have, including photos/video, police accident reports, medical records, and bills/invoices/receipts/pay stubs
- Follow your doctor’s treatment instructions and recommendations
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Near You to Discuss Your Accident Case in New Jersey
Were you or a loved one injured as a result of a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Drazin and Warshaw, P.C. represent clients injured in car accidents in Westfield, Summit, Scotch Plains, Brick, Aberdeen, Asbury Park, and throughout Monmouth County, Ocean County, Union County, and Middlesex County, NJ. Call (732) 576-8860 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 3315 Route 35, Hazlet, NJ 07730 as well as offices in Red Bank, Brick, and Westfield.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.