After an accident someone else caused, you can seek compensation in one of two ways: through a personal injury insurance settlement or a civil lawsuit in court. Most of the time, insurance companies will try to settle accident claims outside of court. Lawsuits are lengthy and expensive. An insurance company knows it’s likely to pay less by settling outside of court.
After you file a claim, the insurance company might respond quickly. However, the first offer is nearly always a lowball amount. So, although the insurance company might be willing to settle fast, it’s not necessarily the best for you. You will probably need to enter a settlement negotiation with the insurance company to fight for what you deserve.
How the Insurance Company Decides to Offer a Settlement
Most of the time, the at-fault party’s insurance company covers the damages. For example, the insurance company of the responsible driver in an accident pays for the accident costs like:
- Medical treatment costs
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Slip and falls, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents are also instances where insurance comes into play. So, if someone causes your injuries, you can probably file a claim with their insurance policy.
Fair Settlements Aren’t Easy
Insurance companies care most about their costs. So when an insurer gets an accident claim, they will look for ways to reduce what they pay. They’ll also do what they can to avoid a court case. This is why most insurers will try to settle before going to court.
Getting a fair settlement offer might be difficult. The first offer will likely be much lower than you request in your claim. You and the insurer will need to negotiate and hopefully come to a fair agreement.
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How to Know When to Settle a Claim
An insurance company will start with a lowball claim. They know that many accident victims do not have experience with personal injury cases. The insurer hopes you’ll take the first offer, which means closing your case. Once you accept money, you won’t be able to fight for more. The goal for most injury victims is to:
- Negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company, and
- Not have to go to court
How a Lawyer Can Help
How do you know what a fair settlement looks like? By knowing your total damages and understanding your full rights. A personal injury accident can examine all of your accident damages. Your lawyer will also:
- Determine who is at fault for your accident, including any partial fault
- Consider all future damages, such as ongoing medical care
- Account for pain and suffering damages that don’t have a set dollar amount
- Prepare for the possibility of trial, just in case you need to file a lawsuit
- Keep in mind how soon you want to settle your case
It’s hard to know what you deserve without a lawyer. But, unfortunately, we find that most accident victims drastically underestimate their damages after an accident. This can lead to a too-low settlement, leaving victims to pay out-of-pocket for many costs.
Fighting for Full Compensation for Your Injuries
As stated above, insurance companies don’t like to deal with court cases. For that reason, an insurer is more likely to negotiate a claim.
Having an experienced and well-known lawyer on your side helps, too. If an insurer sees you have an attorney, they know you have stock in getting a fair offer. In addition, having a lawyer is a sign that you might file a lawsuit if you don’t deserve the compensation. You and your lawyer can strengthen your injury case by:
- Gathering evidence from your accident scene
- Taking pictures of your injuries
- Documenting all of your costs from the accident
- Calculating your total economic and non-economic damages, including future losses
The insurance company will look for ways to reduce your claim value. If there are holes in your case, the insurer will find them and use them against you. But an experienced lawyer will think of every angle and build the most substantial claim possible. Thankfully, insurance companies often settle claims outside of court, and you are most likely to get the best offer with strong evidence and the help of a lawyer.
Always Hire a Lawyer to Help You
You may wonder why hiring a lawyer is necessary if your case won’t go to court. Aside from the reasons listed above, one of the most important things about hiring a lawyer is balancing the terms of negotiation with the insurance company.
Insurance companies often have lots of legal resources and a strong team of experts and lawyers on their side. However, if you know little or nothing about personal injury law, an insurance company can easily bully you into accepting a settlement far below what your damages truly are.
This happens to many personal injury victims in Georgia and throughout the country. Don’t find yourself fighting an uphill battle alone. In many cases, just hiring a lawyer is more than enough to get the insurance company to settle for what your damages are actually worth.
The Statute of Limitations for Accident Claims
Whether you go to court or not, all claims that involve an accident and personal injury have a statute of limitations of two years under OCGA §9-3-33. If you let the statute of limitations expire, you no longer have the right to file a claim and pursue financial compensation. So don’t forfeit your ability to win a settlement by sitting on your claim.
You do yourself a disservice with inaction. The insurance company wants you to either take their lowball settlement or sit on your claim. The longer you wait to take action, the easier it is for an insurance company to fight against the claim you eventually file. Always get help from a lawyer and take the necessary steps to secure your settlement.
Talk to an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Today
John Foy & Associates has been helping accident victims for over 20 years. We have grown to become one of Georgia’s largest law firms with a reputation as the “Strong Arm” against insurance companies.
We do not get paid unless we win your case. And every case is personal for us because we fight tirelessly for our clients. To learn more during a free consultation, call or contact us online.