Dealing with insurance companies after a vehicle accident
An aggressive insurance company may approach you directly to resolve your case. While the company’s offer may seem tempting, it might not be in your best interests to take the initial offer. Without realizing it, at this point you have entered into a negotiation and, if you sign anything, a settlement. Before signing off on anything (including endorsing a check), we advise you to contact a seasoned settlement attorney and request an assessment. The settlement you’re being offered may be incomplete or incorrect. Most of all, it may not do justice to your injury because of the following:
- You may have ongoing medical issues as a result of your accident, and settling immediately may mean prematurely accepting inadequate or incomplete compensation.
- There may be additional defendants, such as an employer of the at-fault party.
- There may be additional insurance coverage, such as an excess or umbrella policy.
- Facts may develop in such a way to reveal entirely new defendants, not even simply an employer of someone who caused an accident.
- There may be medical or other types of liens which must be considered and resolved prior to any settlement.
Following the steps to a settlement agreement
Your first step, of course, is to get medical attention. Much of the rest can be handled by the attorney with input, of course, from you. For example, you should make a diary of how you are feeling so that when you are asked about your injuries several months down the road or even year(s) later, you will be able to refresh your recollection.
You should document everything: get names and addresses of all parties as well as their insurance information, and take pictures. You may need this documentation later to refute claims by the insurance companies or other parties. It may also become part of the public record if you file suit later. Of course, get the names of any witnesses. In a premises liability accident, have an expansive view of who might be a witness.
Depending on the circumstances, the insurance company may approach you with a settlement offer immediately. Assuming that you do not accept the settlement and retain a lawyer, the approach will be different. After sitting down with your lawyer, a letter of representation will be sent to the relevant entities. Your lawyer may take the next step by filing a formal complaint in the court system or may defer taking that approach until a more favorable time in the process.
At virtually any stage of the process, the claims representatives or defense attorneys may make a settlement offer. Perhaps they will propose mediation. It is always advisable to have an experienced attorney evaluate any approach that is made by the other side.
If you’ve been offered a settlement after an accident, your best approach is to retain professional counsel, and at the earliest stage possible. The reasons for being represented earlier rather than later are numerous: witness testimony can be preserved, photographs taken, insurance coverage ascertained, and so on. At Marino and Ehle, LLC we have the experience in personal injury law to help you. We know that every time we get compensation for a client we help them along the path to recovery. Call us today at (504) 362-0666 or contact us online to make an appointment for a free consultation.