Someone else cause a car crash, and you suffered extensive injuries. Maybe you broke a bone in three places or suffered a traumatic brain injury. You have gone weeks without working and have required tens of thousands of dollars in medical care.
The claims adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company has offered you a settlement. You will get one lump-sum payment or a structured series of payments, and you will have to use that money to cover all of your losses from the wreck.
Receiving an insurance settlement offer when you have been out of work for a while can seem like a fortunate turn of events. Unfortunately, settlements often favor the insurance company rather than the person making the claim. You need to be careful about accepting an initial settlement offer when you have a serious injury.
Once you settle, you have no future rights
Your right to claim any future compensation ends when you sign a settlement. The other party no longer has any liability for your losses, even if your injury takes a turn for the worse or you discover you can never return to work.
As soon as you sign the paperwork or cash a settlement check, the insurance company won’t have to make any more payments to you, even if your losses increase later. Obviously, a settlement can be quite beneficial for the insurance company, as they won’t have to worry about future liability. That leaves you with personal risk for financial losses.
What seems generous may not cover your costs
When you first look at the settlement offer, it may look generous. You may know right away that it is enough money to pay all of the medical bills you have currently and to cover the income you haven’t learned since the crash.
What you may not consider is how long the injury will affect your earning potential and what it will cost for you to get care in the future. If you incur any unpredictable future expenses, the settlement offer might actually fall far short of what you need.
Negotiating a settlement often requires that you carefully calculate your losses and counter the initial offer. Only by advocating for yourself or getting the right support will you receive the compensation you need for your injuries after a major car crash.