If you were hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may hire a personal injury lawyer, and after back-and-forth negotiation with the at-fault party and their insurance company through your lawyer, end up with a settlement offer on the table.
The offer may seem fair, but how do you know if it’s enough money to cover ALL of your accident-related expenses? This is a common question that victims have when their injury claims end in settlement offers. They need money to pay for their medical bills and lost wages, and they’ve been waiting a long time to get their checks, but they may wonder if they should ask for more money.
If you’re debating on whether you should accept the insurance company’s offer, here are a few questions to ask your lawyer.
Ask if Your Lawyer Calculated Your Current AND Future Expenses
It’s easy for lawyers to determine how much money their clients are owed for their damages while they’re building their claims. They can simply tally up their clients’ existing medical bills and their days, weeks, or months of lost pay.
However, it’s not as easy to determine how much money victims are owed for their future expenses arising from this injury. Even after victims heal, they often continue to pay for their injuries for years, decades, or even the rest of their lives.
For example, if you’re partially or totally disabled as a result of your injuries, you need compensation for your reduced or lost ability to earn a paycheck. Your lawyer should also consider any ongoing medical expenses, such as prescription medications, physical rehabilitation, and future surgeries that are likely to arise.
If your lawyer didn’t take future expenses into account when building your claim, there’s a good chance the settlement offer they negotiated isn’t enough money to fairly compensate you.
Ask if Your Lawyer Included Pain and Suffering in Your Claim
Medical bills and lost wages are considered “economic damages” in the eyes of the law. There’s another type of damages that victims are often awarded compensation for after accidents and injuries called “non-economic damages”—or, as they’re more commonly known, pain and suffering.
These damages are designed to compensate you for the ways your injury affected your life that can’t easily be calculated in dollars. Pain and suffering damages can include compensation for permanent pain, permanent disability, and being unable to enjoy spending time with family, friends, and partaking in hobbies as a result of your injury.
Some lawyers fail to include pain and suffering damages because they’re harder to prove and because insurance companies often refuse to pay them without a fight. However, they’re extremely important parts of many injury claims due to the reduced quality of life that victims must endure through no fault of their own.
Ask if the Settlement Was the Insurance Company’s First Offer
Insurance companies are notorious for offering “lowball” settlements to victims shortly after accidents and injuries. They do this when they know they could lose in court during a lawsuit, and by offering quick settlements, they can avoid paying more by order of a jury or judge.
Unfortunately, they also attempt this tactic when victims have lawyers representing them. They know that just as some victims are eager to accept fast settlements, many lawyers are, too. Those lawyers want to get their cut and move on to the next case.
If your lawyer is ready for you to accept the insurance company’s first offer, it’s important to sit down and carefully review it with him or her to ensure it’s enough to cover all your expenses. Although insurance companies occasionally offer fair settlements during step one of the negotiation process, getting adequate compensation usually requires a few rounds of back-and-forth negotiation.
Ask Your Lawyer for their Honest Opinion of the Settlement Offer
As with all types of bargaining and negotiation, there’s a fine line when it comes to negotiating settlements after accidents and injuries. Just as it’s possible to accept a settlement that’s not nearly big enough to cover all of your expenses, it’s also possible to demand too much money and for the insurance company to refuse to pay you.
An experienced Oklahoma personal injury lawyer can give you honest feedback on any settlement offers you receive and advise you on whether you should accept or ask for more money. This is why it’s important to have a trustworthy law firm with a long track record of success building your claim.
It’s Our Goal to Get Our Clients Maximum Compensation
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our attorneys have one goal in mind when we take on new claims: getting full and fair settlements for the injured victims we represent. We work hard to give our clients peace of mind knowing that we never accept less money than they deserve, and we remain honest and open about both our progress on their cases and how much money the insurance companies should pay them via settlements.
And when we feel that insurance companies aren’t willing to play ball, we don’t hesitate to take them to court. In fact, we build all of our cases as if they’re going to trial. It’s just another way we gain a big advantage over greedy and uncooperative insurers.
Ready for us to get started on your claim? Contact us today for a free consultation.