The worse your injuries are after a car crash, the bigger the financial impact they will have. Obviously, more serious injuries will require more expensive medical care and can potentially keep you away from work for longer.
If you’ve been in the hospital for an entire week, you may feel afraid to even open the statement dropped off by the financial liaison for the facility. Not only do you have to worry about those hospital bills, but you have gone a week or more without any work and therefore without any income.
The insurance company knows about your situation
When the insurance company calls you back and says that they want to offer you a settlement, you may feel relieved or even exhilarated. You might think they acted quickly to help protect you. You probably imagine getting a check and being able to fix your car, catch up on your bills and pay off your treatment.
Before you sign any paperwork or cash a check, you need to ask yourself an important question. If that settlement was so beneficial for you, why would the insurance company offer it so early in the claims process?
Settlements protect the insurance company
What the adjuster working with you doesn’t want you to realize is that a settlement is actually good for the insurance company. When they offer you a lump-sum settlement, they require that you sign paperwork absolving them of future liability. Even if it turns out that your hospital bills will cost twice what they paid you, you will not be able to go back and ask for additional coverage.
Unless the settlement that the insurance company offers you is the maximum amount of coverage according to the policy limit, the chances are good that they offered that amount because they expect that your claim will actually cost more in the long run. Once you receive a settlement, you will be responsible for any future costs that exceed the amount the insurance company paid.
A first settlement offer is just a starting point
Regardless of what the insurance professional says when making the settlement offer, the chances are good that they can offer you more and intentionally left themselves some wiggle room to increase that offer later.
The average person already coping with medical issues will not be in a position to aggressively negotiate for more compensation. You may need help to handle the insurance company. An attorney can assist with establishing a reasonable estimated cost for your injuries and negotiating with the insurance company to get the right amount of compensation.
Recognizing that a settlement could leave you with unpaid bills will help you better protect yourself after a motor vehicle collision.