The Law Office of James R. Snell Jr. February 2019

19 feb

Road to justice |

Don’t Shortchange Yourself

You Only Get One Settlement

All too often, we’ll get a call from an injured party after they’ve accepted a settlement from an insurance company. These conversations usually go something like this:

Hey Jim, I was recently in a car accident. When I got home from the hospital, a representative from the other driver’s

insurance company showed up at my house. They offered me $50,000 to pay for my medical costs and other expenses. It seemed like a lot of money at the time, so I signed. Now I’m realizing that it’s not even close to what I need. What can I do to get a bigger settlement? Sadly, the answer to this question is,“Not much.” Settlements can be voided, but only under the most extreme of circumstances. Proving that you were coerced into accepting an offer is extremely difficult. Unless you literally had a gun to your head when you signed, a court is likely going to come to the conclusion that you voluntarily accepted a settlement. In other words, you’re stuck with what you accepted. The worst part of this system is that it’s exactly what the insurance companies want. Their number one goal is always getting you to settle for the lowest amount possible. It’s their job to protect their own financial interest, which is something you have to keep in mind whenever you interact with them. That rep who showed up at the house the day after you got back from the hospital knows exactly what they’re doing. They know you’re in a vulnerable state and under stress from your accident and its aftermath. They figure if they can get to you now—when you’re discombobulated and in need of a hand — you’ll accept way less than you should. It’s a dirty business, but that’s just the way it goes. Your best defense against these underhanded tactics is to never agree to a settlement without first consulting an attorney. In fact, you should call an attorney immediately after a serious accident. Agreeing to a settlement may be the worst mistake, but even providing a statement to an adjuster can hurt your claim. Like it or not, insurance companies will do everything

they can to poke holes in your claim. Without the advice of a lawyer, you could hurt your case without even knowing it.

The first settlement an insurance company proposes to you is never going to be their best offer. Just like shopping at a flea market, getting the right price involves negotiating. The difference here is that the stakes are a

heck of a lot higher. You probably won’t regret paying $20 too much for a vintage vase; you’ll definitely regret accepting tens of thousands too little for your auto accident claim. Don’t sign a settlement you’ll end up cursing months down the line. Talk to an attorney to preserve your rights, and remember that once you sign a settlement, you’re stuck with it. –Jim Snell | | F: 800-567-6249 | P: 803-753-1476 1

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