After a serious car crash or catastrophic accident, the insurance company may approach you about a settlement. While a lump sum payment may seem appealing, you should always be cautious. Once you accept a settlement, you usually can’t go back later and demand more compensation. Keep reading to learn the basics of settlement negotiation from the experienced personal injury attorneys at Crosley Law.
Understand the Value of Your Injury Claim
It’s almost impossible to make a settlement demand or respond to an offer unless you understand the real value of your injury claim. In Texas, a victim may be entitled to a variety of compensation (or damages):
- Economic damages: Reimbursement of your out-of-pocket expenses related to the crash or injury, such as lost income, medical expenses, home modifications, and attendant care
- Non-economic damages: Compensation for other damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium
- Punitive damages: Compensation awarded by a judge or jury to punish someone whose intentional behavior or gross negligence injured another person
While some damages might seem clear-cut, others are more difficult to calculate and understand.
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At Crosley Law, we carefully investigate our clients’ injury claims and calculate all their damages. Our injury lawyers consider a wide array of potential losses and consult with experts when necessary. For example, in a catastrophic injury claim, a victim needs to do more than just add up their medical bills and missed work.
You’ll also need to estimate future medical needs (which might include additional surgeries, testing, and therapy) and lost earning potential. Similarly, you need to assign a dollar figure to the decline in quality of life that you may experience if you can’t pursue your favorite hobbies, if you are going to struggle with accessibility, if your relationships with loved ones change, and much more.
In these claims, we frequently consult with life planning, vocational, and medical experts to figure out exactly what our clients have lost and assign a dollar amount to those losses.
Evaluate the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Coverage
While some drivers and companies purchase policies with significant policy limits, Texas’ minimum requirements are modest. For example, a driver only needs a minimum of $30,000 in liability coverage per person with up to $60,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident.
“…a driver only needs a minimum of $30,000 in liability coverage per person with up to $60,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident.”
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No matter how large your financial and emotional losses are, most accident victims’ compensation is limited by the insurance policies involved in their claims. You’ll need to identify every insurance policy that applies in your case and its policy limits. Depending on your circumstances, you might have claims against the at-fault party’s liability insurance, your personal injury protection (PIP), your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM), and other policies.
Don’t Accept the Insurance Company’s First Settlement Offer
Insurance companies are for-profit companies, not good neighbors. They do their best to cut the value of victims’ claims and sometimes even negotiate in bad faith. When an accident victim has not hired a lawyer, the insurance company will almost always try to take advantage of them.
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When an insurance adjuster makes their first settlement offer, it’s usually at the bottom of their settlement authority, or the range that they can settle the claim for. They intend to negotiate back-and-forth with the victim, hopefully landing on a final settlement value that is significantly lower than the policy limits.
Consult with an Experienced Texas Injury Lawyer
While you can settle a serious injury claim without a lawyer, it’s rarely in your best interest. The personal injury lawyers at Crosley Law often meet with accident victims who tried to save money by negotiating settlements on their own. Later on, they discover that their injuries were more serious than they originally thought, and their settlements now seem unfair. Unfortunately, we can’t always help them that late in the process—most Texas settlements become full and final once they’re accepted.
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Rather than take that risk, it’s smart to consult with a lawyer before accepting a personal injury settlement. Our injury lawyers handle personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. You won’t pay a fee unless we help you recover compensation. That means your initial consultation is always free and there’s no upfront financial risk.
And your initial consultation can be incredibly valuable. We’ll listen to your story, ask questions, and learn as much as possible about your claims. Then, we’ll help you understand your legal options and make suggestions about how you should move forward. And if you decide to work with a Crosley Law attorney, you’ll receive sophisticated legal advice and a team that’s willing to stand up to the insurance company during negotiations and litigation.
Crosley Law: We Demand Fair Compensation for Our Clients
If you or a loved one are considering a personal injury settlement, it’s time to consult with Crosley Law. To request a free consultation, simply complete our simple, online form or call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000. We’d love to hear about your situation and help you learn about your legal options.