The popular image of the injury settlement process usually involves an attorney fighting an insurance company. However, there are times when an insurer may come in with a quick settlement offer rather than putting up a long fight. You may wonder whether you should take it. Here are several things a personal injury lawyer will tell you about deciding to take a settlement.
Know Your Numbers
Especially when it comes to the outstanding medical expenses you might yet face, you don't want to settle before you know what the final costs are going to be. If you still have surgeries scheduled for the future, for example, it's extremely unlikely a personal injury lawyer would tell you to accept an offer at that point. You're just not going to be confident about what the tally of all your medical bills is likely to be.
Potentially worse, you won't be able to project possible future medical expenses, such s long-term care, therapy, medical devices, and prescriptions. Until you have those numbers nailed down, you just don't want to even start getting into settling the case.
Calculate Compensation for Pain and Suffering
You don't just have a right to compensation for your medical bills. The defendant should also pay you for pain and suffering. Notably, the baseline for calculating pain and suffering starts with your medical expenses. Once again, that means you can't have a serious conversation about an offer until you nail down a figure on that side of the ledger.
Also, pain and suffering compensation is based on a multiplier. This means you take the medical expenses and multiply them by a certain number to calculate pain and suffering. The industry standard, though not a legally-binding one, is to use a multiplier somewhere between 1.5 and 5. That means permanent and life-altering suffering would be a 5, and the least pain and suffering would be 1.5.
Respond to an Offer
The simplest solution is to hear the insurer's offer and then politely inform them you'll need to see the deal in writing. Remember, nothing is formalized at this point. Likewise, don't discuss the details of the case with anybody from the insurance company. The insurance company may record conversations, and there's little benefit in providing them with information at this stage.
Contact a personal injury lawyer and show them the written offer when it arrives. They can then advise you how they believe you should respond.