Should I Accept an Insurance Company’s First Offer?

By Peter DePaolis

There are several reasons you will want to think twice before grabbing the initial offer from the insurance company if you got hurt in an accident that was someone else’s fault. You might have bills piling up and no paychecks coming in, so it can be quite tempting to go for a quick settlement, but you will most likely regret it later.

A North Virginia car accident attorney can explain to you whether you should accept an insurance company’s first offer in your situation. Here are some things you need to know about the pitfalls of taking the initial settlement offer.

The Insurance Company’s Job Is to Pay You Less Than You Deserve

Insurance companies are in business to make a profit. If an insurer does not make as much profit as expected, the shareholders will be unhappy, and the stock prices can fall. Insurance companies have a significant financial motivation to pay injured people as little money as possible on their claims.

The claims adjuster might act friendly but make no mistake. He is not your friend. He wants to keep his job, which means that he needs to deny or pay pennies on the dollar on claims assigned to him. 

The First Offer Is Usually Lowball

The nature of negotiations is that one party makes an offer that is not that party’s bottom line. Initial offers include a buffer zone to allow for counteroffers. Many first offers are ridiculously low, like a home buyer’s first offer on a house during a buyer’s market. The initial offer is merely the starting point for the negotiations.

Unless you work in the personal injury field at a law firm or insurer, you are unlikely to know the financial value of your case. You might not realize that your claim could include your medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, and pain and suffering, among other things, depending on the facts of your case. It is not the job of the insurance company to notify you about these items.

You Might Need Additional Medical Treatment

It might seem safe enough to settle your injury case when you are near the end of your initial treatment plan, but doing so could backfire on you. Let’s say that you settle your personal injury claim during the last few weeks of your physical therapy. You go back to your treating physician for a follow-up and find out that you will need surgery to achieve full recovery.

The insurance company and at-fault party have no legal obligation to you after you sign the settlement papers, so they will not pay you any more money. You might end up with a stack of medical bills that you cannot afford to pay. If you had waited to settle your claim, the medical bills could have been added to your personal injury case.   

A Virginia personal injury attorney can deal with the insurance company directly so that you do not have to do so. You get to rest and focus on your well-being, knowing that your lawyer is taking care of your injury claim. Contact our office today for a free consultation

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.