One of the first phone calls you will receive after being involved in a car accident is from the insurance company who represents the driver who caused the accident. While the adjuster may be nice on the phone, the main objective of that phone call is to gather information to use against you in the future. Despite their urgent tone, you do not need to speak with that adjuster, or at least not right away, and if you hire an attorney you may not need to speak with that insurance company at all.
However, many of my clients do end up speaking with the at-fault driver’s insurance company before seeking representation and unfortunately there is a common deceitful tactic that they’ll try to use on you. This tactic is called the Early Settlement Offer.
Often, in the first few days after the crash, the at-fault driver’s insurance may attempt to offer you early compensation for your medical bills and injuries. They may send you a check in the mail before you even ask for it. They may even come to your house! This ploy, besides offering that early settlement, is to get you to sign a full liability release, which would effectively end your bodily injury case against the at-fault driver.
If you receive a check, don’t cash it and definitely don’t sign a release without consulting an attorney.
Side note: A bodily injury release is different than one to repair or total out your vehicle. They are usually handled separately. When the insurance company fixes your car they usually don’t require you to sign a release. You can still receive compensation for your car without waiving your medical claim. However, always check the language in the release and make sure you consult with an attorney before you sign anything.
When it comes to compensation for your medical injuries, you get one chance to settle with the at-fault driver. Once you release that person of liability, you won’t be able to seek more compensation down the road. Even if your medical bills continue – or if your injuries turn out to be worse than you knew at the time – you won’t be able to seek additional compensation. Ever.
For most injured drivers, they know is that they are in pain BUT won’t know why they are in pain without further treatment and diagnostic testing. The insurance company may try to settle quickly after the accident, but the only reason why an insurance company is offering to settle early is to avoid paying a larger settlement down the road.
The offer they give likely won’t go away. Receive the treatment you need before even thinking about settling! Hiring a personal injury attorney like myself will help you navigate this process, avoid insurance company tricks, and ensure you can focus on recovering.
If an insurance company tries the Early Settlement Offer tactic on you, give me a call right away so we can talk about your best path to compensation.