Getting hurt unexpectedly often puts you at the mercy of insurance companies. Whether you got into a car crash with a drunk driver or got hurt on the job because of malfunctioning machinery, a severe injury can mean tens of thousands of dollars worth of medical costs and weeks without your usual income.
A settlement offer can feel like a lifeline when your family has gone a week or two without a paycheck. However, before you cash that check or accept a settlement offer, you need to think carefully about what it will mean for your family. There are three reasons to be skeptical of a first settlement offer when you have a big claim because of an injury.
The settlements absolve the insurance company of future liability
When you accept a settlement offer, whether it is a lump-sum, one-time payment or a structured settlement where you receive a specific amount of money every few weeks for a certain number of years, the amount you agree to in the settlement paperwork will be all you ever receive.
The insurance company is no longer liable to you for future claims once you take the settlement offer. Obviously, that means they have an interest in getting you to take a low settlement so that they can minimize the losses they incur.
Your costs may not be done accruing yet
At first glance, what the insurance company offers you might look like a reasonable amount. You may have a running estimate of your total medical bills in your head that seems to confirm the idea that the settlement is fair.
Still, it’s important to remember that this will be the only compensation you receive. Are you going to need another surgery in a few months? Will you require physical therapy before you go back to work? Future care needs absolutely have to factor into the amount that you expect from a settlement.
Not all of the costs of an injury come with a specific price tag
You know the amount you will have to pay to replace or fix your car after a crash and what amount the hospital charged you for the care that you received. However, there are other costs you have to consider that may not have such clear-cut prices attached to them.
For example, will you be able to do the same job you did before, or will you have to take a job with less physical responsibilities that pays less? Will you be able to continue doing all of the maintenance on your vehicle and repairs around your house, or do you need to start hiring people because of your injury?
Having an attorney review an insurance settlement offer — whether it is from a motor vehicle liability insurance company or a workers’ compensation insurance company — can help you better determine if the offer is reasonable. A lawyer can also help with countering a bad settlement offer and negotiating for terms that protect you. Connecting with help now can minimize the ongoing impact of this injury on your finances and future.