My Legal Options After a Car Accident
Auto Accident Lawyer
The aftermath of a car accident can be a very confusing time, especially if you were significantly injured as a result. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the at-fault driver’s insurance company may be pressuring you to make hasty decisions in regard to settlements. However, it is in your interest to take the time to evaluate all your legal options before you make a decision. If you are not sure of what your options are, read on.
1. Accept the Insurance Company’s Initial Settlement Offer
This is generally NOT the recommended course of action. The initial offer will almost always be less than your case is actually worth. The insurance company may try to take advantage of your confusion and lack of firsthand knowledge about the process to avoid paying you what you deserve. Before you even consider accepting the initial offer, there are a couple of steps you should take.
First, you should receive medical attention for your injuries. Not only is this best for your health, but you can find out from the doctor about your prognosis for recovery, your ability to return to your job, and any work restrictions that may apply in the future. This information will help you to determine what your case is really worth.
Second, you should consult an attorney. Like an insurance adjuster, an attorney has knowledge of the applicable laws and how to determine the worth of a car accident settlement. Unlike an insurance adjuster, however, an attorney will act in your interest to try to obtain a fair settlement for you.
2. File a Lawsuit
This is usually only an option before you accept a settlement, not after. The reason is that in order to receive your settlement payment, you must sign a form saying that you agree not to sue the at-fault party in regard to this matter in the future. That is why it is important to find out what your case is really worth before accepting a settlement.
However, there is an exception: If the insurance company acted in bad faith and/or tried to defraud you, you may be able to sue even after accepting the settlement. Also, if there were multiple drivers at fault for the accident, settling with one usually doesn’t apply to the others. In that instance, you would still be able to sue the drivers with whom you haven’t reached a settlement.
3. Negotiate a New Settlement
This can take place before or after you file a lawsuit. Most insurance companies would rather settle than go to court, so with the help of an attorney, you may be able to negotiate a settlement that is fairer to you. Find out how a car accident lawyer may be able to help you recover what you deserve by contacting a law office today.