If you were injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you will need to file a claim with their insurance company. You may expect them to treat you fairly and offer you what you deserve when settling your claim.
Unfortunately, the insurance company is a business. As such, their focus may be on making a profit instead of your health and needs. You should not be surprised if they make you a lowball first offer.
What Compensation Should You Receive in Your Car Accident Settlement?
In order to know if the insurance company is offering a low settlement, you need to understand what compensation you are entitled to under California law. You should receive both your past and future damages in your settlement. Types of compensation that should be included in your settlement are:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Property damages
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Wrongful death damages if a loved one was killed in the collision
How to Respond to a Low Settlement Offer
The insurance company may offer you a low amount in their first settlement offer in hopes that you want to settle your claim as fast as possible. This is especially true if you are trying to settle your claim on your own. Here is how you should respond to the offer.
Retain a Lawyer
A lowball offer is a red flag that the insurance company is not treating you fairly. If you have not yet hired an experienced car accident lawyer, you need to do so immediately. They will take over all communications with the insurance adjuster and negotiate your settlement so that you receive the maximum recovery. They will also conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your auto accident and your injuries and collect the evidence you need to win your case.
Analyze the Offer
While you may understandably feel angry at the insurance company, you need to remain calm. Remember that the offer you received is only the first one. Even if the insurance company was seriously considering your claim, they would not agree to pay you all that you should receive in their first offer.
Your attorney will analyze the offer with you and explain why it is not acceptable. If the insurance company has not explained why they offered you a small settlement, your lawyer will contact them to find out the reasons. This will help your attorney refute any inaccurate facts that led to the low offer.
Reject the Offer
You are not required to accept any settlement offer from the insurance company. If their offer is too low, your lawyer will reject it on your behalf in writing. It is most likely not the last one you receive from the insurance adjuster.
Wait to Settle Your Claim Until You Recover
If you have not fully recovered from your injuries, your lawyer may advise you to wait to settle your claim until you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the stage in your medical treatment when you have either:
- Fully recovered from your injuries; or
- Recovered as much as you can and your doctor can give you a final prognosis
It could take you months or longer to reach your MMI, especially if you suffered more than one injury. However, you cannot know how much your future damages will be until you reach this stage in your recovery.
Make a Counteroffer
When your lawyer knows how much your claim is really worth, they will make a counteroffer to the insurance company. They will do this in writing to outline the driver’s fault in causing the accident and refute any false claims of the insurance company. They will also explain the seriousness of your injuries, treatments you need and will need in the future, and the amount of compensation you would accept.
Do not be surprised if the insurance company rejects your first counteroffer. Your attorney and the insurance company may make several offers and counteroffers before your claim is finally settled.
File a Lawsuit
If the insurance company refuses to be reasonable, your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf and litigate your claim. While it could take longer to settle your case, it is likely that the insurance company will agree to a fair settlement before your case goes to a jury trial.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Did another driver cause your car accident in San Diego or Southern California? Start a live chat or call my office to schedule a free consultation.