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Weighing settlement offers after a car accident

A car accident that results in serious injury tends to be expensive as well as physically traumatic. All of a sudden, you find yourself facing medical bills, absence from work and maybe even doubts about your ability to work at all in the future.

In such a situation, a settlement offer can seem like a lifeline. You may feel tempted to accept the first offer you get rather than continue negotiating further. Unfortunately, doing so can create more problems than it solves.

Considerations that may affect your decision

One important thing to know about settlement offers is that, once you officially accept, you will likely not have a chance at a do-over. This will generally hold true even if new facts emerge about the circumstances of the accident or about your injury.

Why this first offer is unlikely to be fair to you

The other important thing to know is that in those first days and weeks following your accident, even you may not know the full extent of your injury and the costs it will entail. The insurance company does not know either. Plus, no matter how friendly and sympathetic the representative may sound, the main point of the settlement offer is to help the company minimize its payout, not to provide you with what you need.

In the case of some injuries such as TBI, you may not even have an accurate diagnosis yet, as symptoms can take time to manifest. Even with a diagnosis, most people do not have the full picture of all the expenses and losses that can arise in the future.

Examples of potential damages

You may need a variety of treatments, rehabilitative care and nursing assistance. Your injury can make it necessary to remodel your home, purchase assistive devices and hire people to provide care and/or help with daily chores your injury prevents you from performing. Lost earnings can also be hard to calculate, as an accurate depiction of future losses should account for the likely growth of your career, not just your current earning level. Reports from medical and actuarial professionals are often needed in order to obtain an accurate loss estimate.

Getting a better deal

The initial offer is very rarely the last one. As your case progresses, it is likely your attorney will be able to negotiate a better settlement that reflects fair compensation for your losses.

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