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Eight Things to Remember When an Insurance Company Offers You a Settlement After a Personal Injury Accident

Here’s the scenario: you’ve been in an accident, or suffered a loss because of another party’s fault. You’re sitting in the hospital, or at home, and the phone rings from an unknown number. It’s the other party’s insurance company, and they’re offering you settlement money. It might even sound like a decent amount money: enough to pay rent for a couple of months.

Here’s the catch: insurance companies are massive corporations that rely on offering settlements to people like you. They’re hoping that you’ll take a small settlement up front, before you speak to an attorney, and give up your right to get full financial compensation.

You can thank the person on the phone for their offer, but before you accept anything, or make any kind of statement about the accident, you need to talk to a lawyer first. We’re going to explain why. 

If you’re reading this because you were just offered money by an insurance company, feel free to give us a call at 845-600-0000 for a free consultation from our experienced team of Hudson Valley personal injury attorneys. We’ve obtained settlements in the millions of dollars for everyday people all over New York after they suffered losses and injuries caused by other parties. We’ll push back against insurance companies for you.

1. They have more information than you

If they’re offering you money, an insurance company already has done due diligence on your accident. The minute they were notified of it, they mobilized investigators, researchers and actuaries to determine the amount of liability they may be exposed to. Based on your employment history and demographic information, they even can estimate how much the accident may cost you in lost wages.

If you’re an individual who was recently in an accident, the odds are that you don’t have the same access to information or comfort in negotiating that the insurance company has. If you work with an experienced personal injury firm, then they will match or exceed the amount of information that the insurance company has access to.

2. They have no obligation to treat you fairly

Insurance companies know that accident victims are often hurting for cash, and many times injured people happily accept a lowball settlement without realizing what they are getting is far below fair compensation. Unfortunately, if you accept a settlement, you lose your right to get that full compensation at a later time.

Additionally, insurance companies will often use well-honed questioning techniques over the phone to try to get you to phrase your side of the story in a way that is favorable to them. They may use your statement as evidence that your injury was partially from a pre-existing condition, or they may claim that you didn’t seek care quickly enough after getting into a motorcycle accident, for instance. If you’ve been in an accident, it’s best to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the other party’s insurance company.

3. Their offer will likely go up if you hire an attorney

Additionally, just by getting an attorney involved, the offer that’s being given to a personal injury victim can double or triple. Retaining the services of an experienced personal injury attorney is a strong signal to the insurance company that they won’t get their way.

It doesn’t take much to get started; just call us at 845-600-0000 for a free consultation.

4. You might not have to wait long for a bigger settlement

Depending on the circumstances, it’s possible that just by letting us work the case for a few weeks after an initial offer, we can obtain a much larger settlement. Some cases can settle in just a few weeks, while others may take months or even years of investigation and negotiation.

Either way, our job is to keep the case running strong from start to finish. We’ll hire investigators, interview witnesses, obtain footage, and use our knowledge from decades of similar cases to achieve the best possible outcome.

5. The threat of a lawsuit scares insurance companies

Even if you have all of the documentation and facts on hand, and can recite them all to the insurance company over the phone, you have a huge disadvantage. As an individual, it is unlikely that you’d be able to credibly represent yourself in court, and there are a myriad of technicalities or “gotchas” that insurance companies could invoke to limit the amount of compensation you’d receive. Hiring a personal injury attorney, and then negotiating through them, means that insurance companies will come with their best offers much more quickly.

6. They may pressure you into signing a medical authorization

An insurance company may try to talk you into signing a medical authorization for them to look into your medical records. You may think that this information will help them see the truth about your accident and they’ll offer you a fair amount of money for your injuries, but the truth is that they’re going to comb through your records to find any ammunition to argue against your claim. If you’ve had any pain or injuries in the past, they may try to claim that they’re to blame for your new medical expenses, and therefore offer you less compensation.

You should only sign a medical authorization if your attorney instructs you to.

7. They may try to influence your medical decisions

In the course of a conversation, a claims adjuster may try to influence your autonomy over your body; if you mention that you’re receiving a certain type of treatment or therapy for your injuries, they may say that they won’t cover it or that the cost will exceed what they can offer in a settlement.

When it comes to your medical decisions, you should listen to your doctor first, and consult with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you will be compensated for your injuries, pain and suffering.

8. They may rush you into not considering your full damages

Before an attorney gets involved in your case, the insurance companies will rely on moving quickly and confusing you in an attempt to get you to accept pennies on the dollar for your injuries. When they call you, they’re relying on the fact that you probably haven’t calculated the full cost of your injuries, which may include:

  • Medical expenses, including but not limited to surgeries, physical therapy, medication, hospital visits, ambulance rides and specialist care (months or even years after the accident)
  • Lost wages
  • The cost of automobile or other property repairs
  • Home care
  • Funeral or burial expenses (if it’s a wrongful death case)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Even if you attempt to calculate these losses on your own, you will be best served to calculate them with the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney who has worked on similar cases for decades.

Our personal injury practice has successfully pushed back against lowballing insurance companies for decades; call 845-600-0000 and schedule a free consultation in either our Kingston or Poughkeepsie offices.