Protecting Your Interests and Assets After a Car Accident
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2009 nearly 60,000 car accidents seriously injured more than 80,000 people on Texas roads. Although this marks a 5 percent decrease from the prior year, this is still far too many people with severe and sometimes life-altering injuries.
For those who have suffered injury or serious property damage in one of these auto accidents, an insurance company’s initial settlement offer may be tempting. After all, injured parties often need immediate access to funds in order to pay medical bills, vehicle repair costs, or to replace lost income due to the collision.
Unfortunately, accepting an insurance company’s initial settlement offer may also result in significant underpayment. Insurance companies recognize the financial stress that an accident or injury can cause, and use this information to offer unreasonably low settlements. Knowing that a smaller settlement now may simply prove too enticing to turn down, these companies get away with paying less than injured people are really entitled to receive.
In serious injury cases, insurance company adjusters have been known to not disclose their policy holder’s full coverage amounts in order to avoid paying out the total amount of coverage a seriously injured claimant may be entitled to.
So what can an injured person do? Perhaps most importantly, to avoid settling for less than the true value of a claim, an injured person must understand the costs of the accident and affiliated injuries.
Following a car accident, make sure that you understand the ultimate costs of your medical bills and any long-term treatment regimens. This often takes time to develop and until you and your medical professionals are reasonably certain about the long-term effects of your injuries, you should not prematurely settle your case. Don’t allow an insurance company to persuade you to accept a low settlement if this will leave you with significant out-of-pocket costs.
For example, if your injuries will permanently affect your ability either to participate in regular activities or your ability to work, make sure the insurance company has fully accounted for this in a settlement offer. If your vehicle has been damaged, make sure that any settlement offer considers the costs you have encountered, such as repairing or replacing your vehicle and any costs of a rental car or the diminished value of your car if it is repaired. If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, going to trial may be your best option.
To ensure that you understand the full costs of an accident, it is important to work with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. An attorney with extensive experience handling these legal claims can help you to properly evaluate the damage and to recognize when an insurance company is making a fair offer, or when the case must proceed further to ensure fair reimbursement for your damages and compensation for the harms you have incurred. Before accepting a settlement, speak with an experienced Texas personal injury attorney. You cannot afford not to.