When to Accept a First Settlement Offer

man and woman exchange insurance information after a car accident

Being involved in a car accident is a distressing experience, and dealing with insurance companies can add another layer of complexity to an already challenging situation. You may be eager to settle so you can pay down bills or just move on from the whole experience. But accepting the first offer from the other party’s insurance carrier is not always in your best interest. You may or may not be aware that you have the right to dispute the amount, and even seek legal assistance if the first offer is unfair. Let’s take a look at when it may be appropriate to accept a first settlement offer from insurance, and when you should speak with an attorney. 

Factors Used in the Insurance Settlement Process

There are many factors that are used by an insurance adjuster to determine the amount your claim is worth. They will request supporting documentation from you, which may include:

  • Photographs
  • Repairs estimates
  • Invoices
  • Medical bills
  • Insurance EOBs
  • Police reports

If the other party has comprehensive auto insurance, you should be able to file claims for damage to your car as well as medical expenses. In some cases, you may be offered a settlement quite quickly. This can be tempting, especially if you have medical bills piling up and are missing work due to your injuries and/or vehicle being in the shop.

However, a first offer does not consider the long-term implications of your crash. You may not have received all of your medical bills, for example; or, you may need ongoing treatment in the form of physical therapy, counseling, and other supportive services. 

So, Should You Ever Accept a First Offer from Insurance?

The only time you should accept the first offer from the at-fault party’s insurance is in the case of minor and uncomplicated collisions. For example:

  • You were uninjured
  • You were injured, but your injuries were minor and a doctor has discharged you
  • The claim is solely for repairs to your vehicle, and the amount offered is adequate

In all other scenarios, you will want to at least wait until your doctor has completed your treatment or given a prognosis. Preferably, you will want to consult with a car accident attorney to be certain you receive a fair settlement.

When to Seek Legal Advice for a First Settlement Offer

There are a few times when it is a good idea to consult with an attorney following a car accident:

Serious Accidents

If the crash was severe, you will want to speak with a personal injury lawyer. An attorney can help you prove and request compensation for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. Likewise, he or she can work with your doctor to determine the severity of your injuries and future costs associated with recovery. 

Uncertain Liability

If there is any ambiguity or disagreement regarding liability, seeking legal advice is crucial. Colorado is a comparative negligence state, which means you may be able to receive compensation even if you are determined to be partially at fault. 

Lowball Estimates or Other Bad Faith Tactics

If you received a settlement offer that was extremely low, this may be an indication that the at fault party’s insurance is acting in bad faith. Likewise, if you are having trouble contacting your adjuster or your claim was denied without reason, you will want to speak to an attorney. 

The At Fault Party is Uninsured or Underinsured

If the liable party does not have insurance or their coverage is inadequate to cover your costs, you should talk to a personal injury attorney. He or she can discuss your legal options, including filing a claim with your own insurance or filing a civil lawsuit. 

Why Negotiate After the First Settlement Offer?

Research shows that claimants who hire a personal injury attorney receive settlements more often and in higher amounts than those who do not. In fact, one study found that claimants with legal representation received payouts 91 percent of the time (compared to just 51 percent of individuals who handled their own claims). 

Furthermore, the average settlement amount was $77,600 compared to $17,600. Minus the average contingency fee (32 percent), claimants are walking away with three times more in settlement amounts when they hire an attorney! 

Colorado Car Accidents Attorney

If you have been involved in a car accident in Colorado, the experienced attorneys at the Roth Group are here to help. We understand how complicated these cases can quickly become, and we pride ourselves on our ability to make the process as stress-free as possible for our clients. Call or go online today to schedule a free consultation.