Most car accident claims are negotiated and settled out of court. This is beneficial for all parties concerned; it saves time and money. However, you still have to watch out and avoid mistakes that can cost you money. Here are two of the most important things to remember during this time:
Don't Automatically Accept the First Estimate
Insurance companies aren't charities; they are businesses. Like any other business, their main aim is to make a profit. This means to do everything (legally) possible to maximize their revenues and minimize their expenses. With that in mind, however, which route do you think they are going to take when a car mechanic tells them that a damaged drive train is going to cost between $1,000 and $1,500? You guessed it right; they are likely to go with the lower option. Unfortunately, that lower option might turn out insufficient for your needs, and you won't be able to do anything if you had accepted the settlement.
That's why it's dangerous to accept the first offer the insurer gives you. Get an independent repair estimate (or multiple estimates) and negotiate with the insurance adjuster for a fair settlement that will actually pay for the repairs.
Don't Sign Any Release without Consulting a Lawyer
When you sign a personal injury release form, it means that you will no longer hold the liable party responsible for your damages. This means you can't sue them even if you discover that the settlement they offered you wasn't enough.
Consider a case where you are hurt in a car accident, negotiate with the insurance adjuster, and accept a $10,000 check as the settlement. The insurance then gives you a release form that you happily signs. Six months after that, you are diagnosed with a disability connected to your accident that had been festering beneath the surface. In this case, it will be difficult to get the insurer to pay for your disability because you had already released them from the responsibility of doing so.
Therefore, consult an injury lawyer before signing any release. The lawyer will go over your case and determine whether you ought to sign the release or not. They will also scrutinize the language of the release form to ensure it doesn't favor the insurer.
When negotiating accident settlements, don't assume that the insurer knows and is interested in what's best for you. It's best to err on the side of caution and consult a lawyer each time you don't understand something.
When my spouse decided to divorce me, I realized that I really needed to work with a professional attorney. I started looking around for great general attorneys who would be willing to take the case, and I was able to find a great team that I felt good about working with. They were intelligent, hard working, and had been in business for years and years. This blog is all about working with an awesome lawyer who can help you to get a fair settlement in court. Check out these blogs for important tips on finding and working with an attorney.