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What Is a Good Settlement Offer for a Car Accident?

by John Gomez | Last Updated: February 24, 2022

What Is a Good Settlement Offer for a Car Accident

After a car accident, you will deal with insurers that will process your claim for damages. When the fault of the other party is apparent, you may receive a settlement offer from the driver’s insurance company to resolve the claim.

Naturally, most car accident victims do not know the true value of their damages and wonder whether the settlement offer they receive is a good deal or requires further negotiation.

Insurance companies will evaluate certain factors in a crash and its aftermath to determine the compensation a victim deserves under the policy. They often shortchange car accident victims, though, and a car accident lawyer can protect you from this practice.

Factors that Can Affect a Settlement Offer

  • The injuries you sustain—The severity of your injuries will affect the compensation you recover after a crash. Insurers use the type and severity of injury to estimate your damages. In some cases, insurers may describe your injury as minor or act as if the impact on you is not significant. The truth is, any injury can be serious to a victim and the effects of an injury can be very different from one person to another.
  • The timeline of your recovery—Due to the wide range of effects an injury can have on an individual, the prognosis of your injury recovery will influence your damages. The longer you can’t work and need treatment for your injuries, the higher your expenses and losses will be. This will lead to more compensation.
  • Whether your injuries will cause permanent or long-term effects—The development of a temporary or permanent disability after an accident is common, especially in cases where a victim suffers a catastrophic level of injury. When you develop a disability, your life is forever changed and the consequences of a car accident will live with you forever. Due to the extreme nature of these injuries, compensation for your injuries will go far beyond your current impacts as you must account for what your future will hold.
  • How your injuries affect your ability to work—If you cannot work you cannot earn money and care for yourself, your family or meet the financial obligations of your day-to-day life. The more of an effect your injury will have on your work duties and income, the more compensation you may be eligible for to make up for these unfortunate losses.
  • Your mental and emotional state after the accident—An accident is not something you will just get over. For many, fear, stress, and anxiety follow the jarring and emotional events of a car accident. While some people may move forward from these feelings and thoughts, others may have deeper impacts that require more time and help from professionals to recover and heal. Victims of car accidents that suffer long-term trauma may be eligible for additional compensation for their suffering beyond just the physical pain they endure in and after the crash.

What Damages Are Available in an Insurance Claim?

A settlement offer is not just an arbitrary number that an insurer comes up with. They go over each category of damages and decide the losses they believe you have sustained. Insurance companies are not going to help you figure out these losses.

It is up to you to make certain they understand the damages that arise because of the accident, and it can be a difficult uphill battle to do so. Saying what you have lost is not sufficient in an insurer’s eyes, you must have proof of these losses and support for your claims. This is where a car accident attorney can benefit you greatly during the insurance claims process.

A victim will not always sustain every category of damages following a car accident. A lawyer, however, will determine if you lost something in each group. You must also determine if your losses will continue. In some cases, damages are not only your current losses but also the future loss you are likely to accumulate because of the long-term effects of the injuries you sustain in an accident.

The categories of car accident damages:

  • Medical—Costs to treat your injuries may include emergency room visits, doctor visits, hospitalizations, medical procedures, surgery, rehabilitation, medical equipment, prescriptions, prosthetics, and any other expense to care for your injuries. You can seek recovery of the entirety of these damages when you are a victim in a car accident because of another’s negligence. Some policy limitations may apply, which is common when a victim sustains severe or catastrophic injuries. However, an attorney can offer guidance on what other options you may have to recover any loss not covered by insurance.
  • Income—When you suffer motor vehicle crash injuries that require recovery and care, you may miss work. Whether you work on the field, in an office, or at home, injuries can affect your ability to do your job. Any money you are out of because of lost hours, limited work capacity, or future potential income is potentially recoverable in a car accident.
  • Distress—Suffering is an unfortunate but real experience for many car accident victims. Injuries can cause immense pain and interfere with your ability to move, function, and enjoy your life. You may have emotional and psychological symptoms that arise after a car accident. A car accident can change your life and create new fears, anxieties, and challenges that affect you deeply. Through an insurance claim, you can claim pain and suffering. While this is not a loss that is easily valued, an insurer can make a payment for these impacts following a crash.
  • Property Damage—It is likely not high on your list of priorities following a car accident with injuries, but the loss or damage to your vehicle and other property in a car accident is recoverable through your insurance claim. Beyond the compensation, for repairs or the value of the loss of your vehicle, you may also be eligible for rental reimbursement or other transportation after a crash.

Should You Accept the First Offer by an Insurance Company?

It may be a surprise to you when you receive a settlement offer from an insurance company in the days following an accident. You may feel tempted to accept the offer and move forward, but beware. Insurance companies know what they are doing, and they use tactics to offer settlements quickly and pressure victims to accept or miss out.

You are not missing out by refusing to accept the first offer of settlement by an insurance company. The insurance company will not be offering to compensate you for the entirety of your losses off the bat in your claim.

Whatever the insurance company offers you in the initial settlement, it is likely far less than what your actual losses will be and what you are eligible to seek compensation for under the law pertaining to car accident damages.

Do not take the first offer. If you have not sought out a personal injury car accident attorney, do so as soon as possible. A car accident lawyer will help you understand what your accident claim is worth and give you a more accurate estimate of how much damages you can seek against the insurer.

What Can You Do If You Believe the Settlement Offer is Too Low?

When you realize the settlement by an insurer is too low and they will not budge in your direction, there are likely other options for you. If you have not hired a car accident attorney, now is the time to do so, quickly. A lawyer can step into your case at any point and take over negotiations of your claim to try to help you get the compensation you deserve.

If you already have an attorney but the settlement negotiations are proving to be unsuccessful, you will likely then move forward with a lawsuit in court. When insurers refuse to settle, it is not because you do not have a case. There are many motivations and tactics behind an insurance company’s decision not to settle with your demands. When the damages are too high, an insurer may take the gamble in court rather than pay damages to you without a fight.

How Often Do Car Accidents Resolve Through a Settlement?

If you feel nervous about your chances of resolving your case in a settlement negotiation without a lawsuit, it may ease your mind that most car accident victims do just that.

This message comes with a warning. In many of these cases, the victim has a car accident attorney that manages their case and negotiates with the insurance company. Going against an insurer solo is not likely to result in the same outcome. Even if you receive a settlement offer from an insurer without representation, the offer will likely be low and not be sufficient to meet your needs.

Is a Lawyer Always Necessary After a Car Accident?

Yes. A lawyer provides invaluable knowledge and experience that will help your case and increase the chance you will recover the compensation you need following a car accident. Insurers love it when a victim does not have an attorney. When they know that a victim is not represented and has no intention of seeking counsel for their case, they will use that information to their advantage.

Insurance companies use all sorts of tactics to get you to settle on their terms or find a reason to deny your claim. An attorney knows your rights and will use their resources and knowledge of the insurance industry and the law to fight for your compensation.

Lawyers in a car accident case will take on tasks including:

  •     Communication with all parties to the case, including insurance companies and the at-fault driver
  •     Gather evidence to support your case which includes evidence to prove the fault in the case and the injuries and damages you sustained
  •     Calculate your damages to account for all your losses to maximize your claim
  •     Negotiate with the insurance company to try to reach a positive resolution
  •     Keep you up to date on your case and communicate with you about your next step in the case

A Good Settlement Meets Your Needs

There is no way to predict the outcome of a case. However, if you have a lawyer representing you in your case, the odds of recovery are far better than proceeding without legal representation.

You cannot undo the accident, but you can try to move forward. When you suffer injuries due to the negligence of another party, you must protect yourself, your finances, and your future. Seek a car accident attorney as soon as possible following a crash to prepare your claim, negotiate, and fight the insurance companies and at-fault parties for the compensation you deserve.

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