Seeking Compensation for Personal Injury – Settlement Offer Before A Claim

In a few cases, a plaintiff or a plaintiff’s lawyer may notify a would-be defendant that they mean to file a claim, unless he or she compensates the plaintiff for the injuries he or she sustains. While such a case isn’t the main issue of this article, it’s worth noting that if a claim involves a substantial amount, both defendant and plaintiff would be better off getting legal advice before proceeding with anything.

It’s possible to pay an expert attorney an hourly payment to assess the case as well as the settlement offer, rather than having to pay a huge contingency payment for a tiny amount of work.

Consider Who’s Making the Settlement Offer

As soon as the complaint has been submitted, a settlement offer will be initialized by either the defendant himself or their insurance company.

And if the defendant has very little insurance (or none at all) to cover probable liability for the claim, the plaintiff will have to decide if the defendant has enough funds to pay for damages if the plaintiff is successful at trial. If the defendant has little money and only a few assets, the plaintiff isn’t going to receive much, regardless of the amount of the damage award.

And if an offer from the poor defendant is not much less than what the plaintiff could wish to get following a trial, settling, and evading the hassle may be the best way. But if the plaintiff is really determined to punish the defendant, then winning an award during the trial could result in permanent credit damage and bankruptcy for a defendant who can’t pay.

auto accident attorney
Damaged vehicles in an automobile accident

When you are seeking compensation for a personal injury, there’s a very good possibility that you’re going to be encountering some form of the insurance company. Insurance Claims After an Accident: The Basics by Find Law talks about the essentials of the matter. Here’s an excerpt:

“The Insurance Claims Process

Whether you were injured in an automobile accident, at a home or building, or while visiting a business, you typically must report the incident to the insurance company within 24 hours of the incident. If you weren’t at fault for the accident, you should contact the insurance provider of the business, building owner, or at-fault driver. You’ll probably be required to provide information about the cause of the accident and the extent of your injuries.

The insurance company will then open an investigation of your claim. You may be asked to provide photos of the accident scene, the names of any witnesses, or a more detailed account of the incident. In addition, you will probably have to submit to an independent medical examination by a doctor of the insurer’s choice. If the injury was caused by a building condition, the claims adjuster may make an inspection of the property.

After calculating the value of your claim, the insurance company will then issue a settlement check. If your claim is denied or if you believe the amount of the settlement is inadequate, you can appeal to the insurance company. An appeal may require you to submit to additional examinations or provide further information and evidence about the accident.”

If the defendant’s insurance covers the claims of the plaintiff, then the insurer will frequently be controlling the defense (not always, though). Not like with an uninsured one, a plaintiff doesn’t have to worry about the insurer running out of cash as there are “insurance guarantee” funds that’ll cover a plaintiff’s claim if a company goes broke.

The main consideration here is what the insurance policy limits of the defendant are. A defendant will need to pay an out-of-pocket cost for any awards that exceed the policy limit.

And so, if the limit is reduced and the defendant cannot pay, a low settlement offer could be enough. But if the limit is high, the plaintiff won’t have to think about the amount of cash required to pay a probable damage award and can concentrate on other aspects.

A business man with his working bag

Consider the Offer’s Timing

The other main thing to think about is when the initial offer is made. If the plaintiff is unrepresented and hasn’t developed the case by collecting facts, a represented defendant or insurance company will most likely provide a settlement offer that’s low proportionate to the possible damages.

If the defendant or insurance company knows the plaintiff is in need of money or new to the process of litigation, then the offer might be even lowered.

In How The Insurance Adjuster Handles Your Personal Injury Claim by All Law, it talks about how insurance adjusters approach personal injury claims.

“How an Insurance Adjuster Decides on an Offer

In personal injury cases, insurance adjusters usually consider the same factors that juries would look at in deciding what damages are appropriate. This means the adjusters are usually looking at:

  • Actual expenses (medical bills and costs) that have been incurred and that will be necessary in the future
  • Actual losses in the form of lost income or lost wages
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Emotional distress damages

Some of these costs (those for actual expenses and losses) are very easy to determine. The numbers can just be added up. Pain and suffering, on the other hand, is much more subjective.”

After you have received the first response to your injury claim, learn about the things you need to think about in a settlement offer in All Law’s Responding to the First Personal Injury Settlement Offer.

“Consider the Timing of the Offer

The other primary factor to consider is when the first offer is made. If a plaintiff is unrepresented by an attorney and hasn’t developed the case by gathering facts (or worse, doesn’t even know how to do so), an insurance company or represented defendant will most likely give a settlement offer that is low relative to the potential damages.

If the insurance company or defendant knows that the plaintiff is desperate for cash and/or new to the litigation process, the offer will be even lower.

On the other side of the spectrum, if a plaintiff is represented by counsel and the case has been developed, a first settlement offer from an insurance company or a defendant may be closer to what the potential damages might be at trial.”

Learn more about settlement offers and how insurance adjusters deal with it by clicking on this link – autoaccidentsanantonio.org.