For many people, the worst part of getting into a car crash isn’t the actual wreck, which only lasts a few seconds. Instead, it is the interminable communications and negotiations with insurance providers that are the most stressful aspect of the process.
Some people make the mistake of rushing through their insurance claim and quickly accepting a settlement offer when am insurance company proposes to write a check to cover someone’s hospital bills, lost wages and vehicle repairs. Although receiving a settlement is certainly tempting and can feel like the resolution someone has long waited for, it can also put them at a disadvantage. Therefore, those offered a settlement should proceed very carefully and can benefit from speaking with a lawyer who can review an offer and, if warranted, negotiate a fairly-valued alternative settlement.
What makes a car crash settlement risky?
Insurance providers may have to write a check for the full cost of a crash, depending on the type of coverage that the driver at fault for the wreck and the other parties involved carried. Policy limits largely dictate how much the people affected by a collision will receive. Insurance companies will never pay more than the limit on the policy, which means that some car crashes result in only $5,000 in property damage coverage in California. As if the low required coverage amounts in the state weren’t worrisome enough, there is also the profit incentive of the insurance company to consider.
The desire to reduce costs and maximize profit will typically lead to settlement offers that are below the applicable policy limit. Once someone accepts a settlement, they generally cannot request more compensation in the future. The employees at insurance companies are notorious for offering lowball settlements and engaging in harsh negotiation tactics that will overwhelm the average individual.
How a lawyer can help
An attorney will be familiar with both insurance law and liability law in California and can therefore help guide someone as they pursue compensation after a crash. Their training in negotiation can also help, as they are likely better equipped to communicate with insurance professionals than the person making a claim.
Finally, a lawyer understands when it is warranted to refuse a settlement because it is not a reasonable representation of someone’s losses nor a reflection of the coverage available. Being cautious and recognizing the risks involved in a settlement after a car crash can help people protect themselves despite their eagerness to resolve their crash-related financial expenses.