Should I take a settlement / When should an accident victim just take the insurance settlement?

I Have Been Hurt in a Car Wreck. Should I Accept the Insurance Companies First Settlement Offer?

The auto insurance company's first settlement offer is almost always just that, a first offer to settle.  

The driver who was at fault for the accident (assuming that's not you) is going to be responsible for your damages, that means the cost of your past and future medical treatment, lost income from time missed at work, your vehicle repairs, past and future pain and suffering and any other compensable damages related to the accident.  

Assuming the driver who caused your damages has car insurance, the settlement offer is going to come from the insurance company for the other driver, and if you have a lawyer, he or she will be the intermediary.

What are your options once you’ve received a settlement offer?

The First Offer (Probably) Won't Be the Last

The insurance company’s first settlement offer is just that. And it’s almost always going to be a low offer. I have personally had settlement negotiations which went on for a month and involved in excess of 20 offer/counteroffer cycles.

You are absolutely free to reject the offer, and in most cases you should reject it. Listen to your lawyer. He or she will have advice that’s tailored to your situation.

The time settlement negotiations take will depend on a number of factors. They include the nature and seriousness of your injuries and whether fault for the accident is an issue.

Your lawyer will likely draft a demand letter, sometimes known as a settlement brochure. A demand letter is your chance to methodically present your side of the story. How the accident happened, who was at fault, what medical treatment you’ve received so far, the prognosis for your recovery, and any other information that helps your case. The letter will include details on all of these aspects of the case, and will also include a dollar figure that you would be willing to accept in order to settle the case.

Making a Counter-Offer, and What Comes Next

After the insurance adjuster’s first offer in your car accident case, you have the right to respond with your own counter-offer. Again, you may get the best results by putting your counter-offer and your supporting arguments into a detailed car accident demand letter. I often tell clients it is a lot like buying a car. There has to be give and take.

Typically this is the course that a typical car accident settlement will follow:

1. You and your attorney if you have one respond with a detailed car accident injury demand letter that asks for more (sometimes much more) than what the insurer offered.

2. The insurance company makes an initial offer that is usually less than what your claim is probably worth.

3) Your attorney and the insurance adjuster exchange a few more letters and participate in a few more phone calls where you try to keep the settlement figure in the higher range, and the adjuster tries to bring the figure down.

4) Your attorney and the adjuster arrive at a final settlement figure that is satisfactory to both sides.

It will very likely be worth your while to discuss your case with an experienced car accident attorney at Seaton, Seaton & Dierks, L.L.P. (785) 776-4788.

Richard H. Seaton, Jr.


Auto Accident - First Steps

I have been hurt in an automobile accident. What do I do now?

Because insurance companies begin investigating the circumstances as soon as they are made aware of the accident, you should talk to a lawyer before you talk with the insurance company’s representative or consent to their requests for information. 

You will most likely will be contacted by a representative of the insurance company, also known as an adjuster, who may wish to take a recorded statement from you either by telephone or in person. Their purpose may be to gain information that they will use later in time to deny liability or fault, or to decrease the amount they should pay. They may also ask you to sign releases for medical or employment information. Your insurance company may require you to report any accident to them within a certain time frame, which may also involve requests for recorded interviews, medical documentation, employment information or other relevant information.

If you have been injured as the result of someone else’s actions, or on someone else’s property, or as the result of a car accident, you may require medical treatment. The hospital, doctor, or physical therapist must be paid. Your personal injury protection policy, which is part of every automobile insurance policy in Kansas will pay your medical bills up to the policy limit.  After the policy limit has been reached, your medical insurance will cover part or all of your medical bills. You should present the correct information to the billing office of the medical provider.

When you visit Seaton, Seaton and Dierks, LLP, please bring the following with you to your appointment:  any information you got from the police about your accident, a copy of your auto insurance policy, any correspondence or information you have from the other person’s insurance company and any information you believe is related to your claim in any way. You should also have similar information about any umbrella or excess insurance policies you may have.

If your own insurance policy, whether it be your health insurance, car insurance, or disability policy, pays for medical services rendered to you for injuries as the result of fault of another, those entities may be entitled to statutory or contractual repayment if you are able to recover from the person at fault.

An injured person is entitled to recovery for the amount of reasonable and necessary medical bills for treatment. An injured person might be entitled to lost wages which result from missed time at work because of an injury. He or she might be entitled to other damages which are more difficult to quantify, such as pain, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, or lost earning capacity.  If you’ve been hurt in an accident, your first responsibility to yourself is to do everything you can to recover from your injury. You should follow the advice of all of your health care providers