We had a personal injury client contact our office wondering whether she should settle her injury case. She had been in a relatively serious accident, and her injuries did require an immediate trip to the emergency room, multiple doctor visits and chiropractic treatment. She called us less than one month after her accident. She had received a check from the insurance company which had not deposited (thankfully) and an agreement from the insurance company to pay up to a certain amount for medical bills. But the agreement also contained a full release of further liability on the part of the insurance company and the driver who admitted fault. The insurance company, in our view, had tremendously undervalued her claim. They were hoping she would take a low-ball figure very quickly. (I’ve discussed this insurance company tactic in other blog posts).
An important factor in cases like this is that the client had not finished treating for her medical injuries. At the time it was hard to know how serious the injuries ultimately would turn out to be, although we knew the value of her injuries far surpassed the insurance company’s offer. Without a lawyer, she would not have known otherwise.
The seriousness of injuries often do not manifest themselves for some time. As a result, we generally recommend waiting at least a minimum of 90 days after an accident before attempting to settle your personal injury claim. It allows you to get a more accurate picture of your long-term prognosis. In some cases that timeframe may need to be even longer. In this case the client also had a concussion. Concussion and other head injuries are often difficult to diagnose and treat. They have the potential to have numerous adverse effects, even when you do not necessarily see immediate evidence of a head injury. Sometimes these effects do not go away. Therefore, waiting a reasonable period to resolve your case is especially important if you have sustained a concussion or head injury.
Another reason to wait before settling your injury case is because it is important to gather and examine all the medical records and bills. You only get one shot at receiving fair compensation from the insurance company. So you want to make sure you do not miss anything.
Finally, while it is always preferable to settle a case if possible, there are occasions that require going to trial in order to receive full compensation for your injuries. You will want to make sure you hire a lawyer that has the willingness to take your case to trial. In our experience there are lawyers whose sole objective is to settle your case, but are not necessarily willing to try your case in the face of low offers from the insurance company. Find out how many cases your proposed lawyer has taken to trial in the past 12 months. If they have not taken any cases to trial, they may not be the lawyer for you.
Please contact us for a free case evaluation if you have questions about your injury case.