Your life can be turned upside down if you suffer severe injuries in a bicycle accident in Southern California. You may be tempted to accept the insurance company’s offer to settle your claim to obtain some money to pay your mounting medical bills and replace the income you have lost while you are off work recovering from your injuries.
However, accepting the insurance company’s first offer is a mistake. You should never accept a settlement without first consulting with an experienced San Diego bicycle accident lawyer if you hope to obtain the full value of your claim from the insurance company.
Why the Insurance Company Is Offering a Quick Settlement of Your Claim
You might think the insurance company is offering to settle your claim quickly because they want to treat you fairly. However, the opposite is more likely to be true. They probably understand that you have a strong case and that the value of your claim is high. The insurance company also knows that you may be struggling financially because you cannot work until you recover from your injuries.
The goal in offering a quick settlement is to save the company money. Their first offer will be a lowball one. They hope you are desperate enough to accept their offer to get your claim over with.
Why You Should Wait to Settle Your Claim
Deciding to settle your claim is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your case. Here are reasons you would make a big mistake if you accept the insurance company’s first offer.
Reason #1: You Do Not Know How Serious Your Injuries Are
You cannot know how serious your injuries are right after your bicycle accident or how long you will need to recover from your injuries. You must wait until you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI) to settle your case. This is the stage in your medical treatment where you have fully recovered from your injuries or have recovered as much as possible, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis.
It could take a long time to reach your MMI if you suffered multiple or long-term injuries. It is impossible to know the total amount of compensation you deserve until you reach this stage in your medical recovery.
Reason #2: The Offer Will Be Too Low
In California, victims of a bicycle accident caused by a negligent driver are entitled to past and future compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The insurance company’s first offer will not include all the damages you deserve.
You should not settle your claim for less money to obtain a quick payment. You should wait until the insurance company offers you a fair settlement—even if it takes you longer to settle your case.
Reason #3: Your Settlement Will Be Final
Another reason you do not want to settle your claim too quickly is that your settlement will be final. This means that you would not be able to reopen your claim to request more compensation if you later discover that your injuries were more serious or that you will not make a full recovery.
When the insurance company and you reach an agreement, they will require you to sign a release of all claims form. When you sign the insurance company’s release, you are agreeing to the following:
- You agree to release the negligent driver and the insurance company from any future claim for compensation due to the bicycle collision.
- You agree that your settlement is a final resolution of your claim.
- You waive your right to file a lawsuit and have your case decided at a jury trial.