A car wreck settlement can provide much-needed funds to pay your mortgage, household bills, and medical expenses after an auto accident. Some accidents are minor and rarely result in serious injury—the proverbial “fender benders.” But if you are involved in a serious accident through no fault of your own and are gravely injured, the financial consequences can be severe. You may be unable to work for several months and your health insurance may not cover all your medical costs.
A car wreck settlement can be a lifesaver in this scenario. Before diving into the process, there are a few things to know about your car wreck settlement.
Car Wreck Settlement – 10 Things You Should Know
1. NO TWO SETTLEMENTS ARE ALIKE.
The insurance company does not offer a flat settlement amount; settlements vary from accident to accident and are based on the severity of a victim’s injuries. Therefore, if you received minor injuries, your insurance settlement will be less than someone who sustained major injuries.
2. THE INSURANCE COMPANY DOESN’T WANT TO OFFER A LOT.
Even if the insurance company knows that you’re faultless, they will attempt to offer the lowest amount of restitution for your injuries and emotional suffering. In this case, it helps to have a personal injury lawyer represent your claim. They know the law and can utilize effective negotiation tactics to maximize your settlement.
3. YOU CAN NEGOTIATE YOUR SETTLEMENT.
You don’t have to accept the first offer received from an insurance company. Since the insurance company wants to keep restitution as low as possible, anticipate an initial lowball offer. If you’re not satisfied with the settlement offer, ask your lawyer to renegotiate with the insurance company.
4. GO TO THE DOCTOR – EVEN IF YOU FEEL OKAY.
Some people accept an insurance settlement before they know the extent of their injuries. This is dangerous because physical ailments directly related to the car wreck might not develop until months later. However, a doctor can detect hidden neck, back, or knee injuries before you start feeling the effects. Get your injuries documented and use this information to negotiate a higher settlement.
5. CHECK THE ACCIDENT REPORT.
You can ask either the insurance company or the police station for a copy of the accident report. Carefully review the report and check for mistakes. The report may reveal inaccurate details that can affect your settlement. In this case, you can file a new accident report. However, the insurance company will verify your account before proceeding with your settlement.
6. PAY YOUR LAWYER FROM YOUR SETTLEMENT FUNDS.
A large percentage of personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. In other words, they get paid when you get paid. If you have this agreement with your lawyer, fees will be paid from your settlement money.
7. YOU MAY OWE TAXES ON YOUR SETTLEMENT.
Don’t assume that money from a car wreck settlement is tax-free. The compensation received for medical expenses and the pain and suffering that result from a physical injury is tax-free. But you will owe taxes on compensation for lost wages and emotional distress.
8. IT CAN TAKE MONTHS TO SETTLE YOUR CLAIM.
Insurance companies deal with many claims, and unfortunately, it’s a slow process. Smaller claims are paid relatively quickly, but if you’re dealing with a major injury, it can take months or longer to receive your settlement.
9. THE INSURANCE COMPANY MAY PAY THE SETTLEMENT IN PERIODIC PAYMENTS.
In cases of large settlements, the insurance company may pay a certain amount every few years until the settlement is paid in full.
10. THE SETTLEMENT IS FINAL.
You can negotiate and renegotiate a proposed settlement, but once you agree to a settlement amount, you can’t renege and ask for more money. The insurance company will ask you to sign a release form, which essentially states that you agree to the stated amount. If you’re not happy with your insurance settlement, do not sign the release form.
Whether you experienced a broken bone or live with chronic pain due to an auto accident, a car accident settlement can provide financial support. Don’t negotiate with the insurance company on your own; call the Law Offices of Pat Maloney at (210) 934-6609 and let us work for you. Please fill out our online form to receive a free consultation. With our firm on your side as your personal injury lawyer, you can receive the highest compensation for your auto accident injuries.