Should I Accept the Insurance Company's First Settlement Offer?

After a serious car accident, victims have a lot to deal with. Besides receiving medical treatment for painful injuries, there’s also the matter of the insurance company trying to avoid paying you what your claim is worth. The circumstances surrounding your accident will determine what forms of damages you are entitled to and how much you receive. Insurance adjusters are always looking for reasons to pay out as little compensation as possible. If you have a high-value claim, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case is going to try to bully you into accepting a quick, and offensively small, settlement. Although it can be tempting to agree to an early settlement to ease your financial dire straits, agreeing to the insurance company’s first settlement offer is almost certainly going to leave you paying damages out of your own pocket somewhere down the road. The Virginia Beach car accident attorneys can fully investigate your car accident, determine the full value of your claim, and advise you on whether the settlement you have been offered is fair. Call us today to schedule a free consultation. 

Why Should I Decline the Insurance Company’s First Settlement Offer?

Insurance companies consciously make extremely low settlement offers expecting victims to haggle for what they are owed. While bartering is perfectly acceptable at yard sales, low settlement offers are predatory, and targeted at people who are at their most vulnerable.

When the insurance company makes its first settlement offer, there is a good chance you have not even had time to learn the full extent of your injuries. You haven’t had time to find out what treatments you will need and how your injuries are going to impact the rest of your life. If you accept the offer, there is every reason to believe that it won’t even cover your medical bills. Although the insurance company is going to work hard to convince you otherwise, after being injured in a car accident for which you were not at fault, you deserve to be properly remunerated so you can be made whole and move on with your life.  

Additionally, accepting the insurer’s offer will strip you of your right to seek further financial compensation. If your recovery does not go as planned, you require additional surgeries, or you are not able to go back to work, you will not be able to reopen your claim or file a new one, and compensation that is rightfully yours will be added to the insurance company’s annual profits.  

Strategies Used by Insurance Companies to Justify Lowball Settlements

During negotiations, there are some strategies commonly used by insurance companies to explain why the meager offer they made is all you should expect to collect. These strategies include:

  • Limiting/Denying Liability: The quickest way for an insurance carrier to avoid paying a fair settlement is to call the validity of the claim into question. They might try to deny your claim altogether by arguing that you were the negligent driver, so, thanks to Virginia’s pure contributory negligence laws, they don’t owe you any compensation. Insurance adjusters will go out of their way to convince you that you do not even deserve the little compensation they are offering. This way, you are more likely to accept their offer and they can let the matter drop. So, don’t be surprised when the insurance company insists that the accident was caused by your negligence. This is merely a tactic they use to decrease your settlement while making it look like a reasonable offer. 
  • Understating Your Injuries: While you are trying to get the compensation you need and deserve, the at-fault party’s insurer has other plans. They might say that you are exaggerating the severity of your injuries and you don’t deserve the amount of compensation you are asking for.  
  • Your Medical History: Claiming that a past injury is the true cause of your pain is another strategy used by insurance companies looking to avoid making an honest payout. The adjuster will try to persuade you to accept their ungenerous offer because your medical records show similar prior injuries which are the real cause of your pain. 

Do You Have Questions About a Settlement Offer?

If you have received a settlement offer from the insurance company, you should consult a skilled Virginia Beach car accident attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp before you agree to anything so we can determine if it accurately accounts for all of your damages. That is what we did when we secured a $150,000 jury verdict for a client after an insurance carrier refused to offer him a fair settlement that covered the worsening of a pre-existing medical condition.  

Schedule a free case review with one of our Virginia Beach car accident attorneys by filling out the contact form on our website or calling (833) 997-1774. Our offices are in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, and Portsmouth.