If an insurance company offers you a check right away, do not sign it. When an insurance company seems overly eager to settle a claim, it is because they are trying to limit their liability or they are trying to beat out future damages that have yet to be identified. As such, many checks will include release language benefiting the insurer.
Make Sure All Your Injuries Have Been Diagnosed and Treated Prior to Accepting Payment
Oftentimes, when you are injured in a personal injury accident, the full extent of your injuries may not be immediately evident. The pain and discomfort that you feel may not completely diminish and may even be symptoms of a larger issue that can limit your movement and ability to perform certain tasks or job duties. This is especially common in back and neck injuries.
When an insurance company rushes a settlement check, it could be because they think your claim may result in more damages that have not yet been identified. As the full extents of your injuries are diagnosed, you may find that future therapy and treatments will be necessary.
If you have accepted a settlement from an insurer, they may have successfully excluded themselves from future liability leaving you solely responsible for future medical expenses, such as:
- Doctor visits
- Specialist visits
- Medication costs
- Physical therapy
By contacting an experienced personal injury attorney, you can verify that a settlement offer is made with your best interests in mind. Additionally, your attorney will evaluate all of your medical bills to ensure the amount offered covers all relevant expenses and will communicate with your doctor so that all possible future expenses are properly reflected in your claim.
Make Sure the Insurance Company has Included All Economic Damages
When an insurance company attempts to settle a claim quickly, chances are they are not covering all of the economic damages you have sustained. If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, for example, the insurance company will likely address vehicle repairs and immediate medical expenses as they know these items are among your greatest concerns.
However, they may be skipping out on other essential damages, such as lost wages or loss of earning capacity. Even if they do include these damages, chances are they have not covered all areas of your income.
When you pursue wage related damages, you are entitled to all wages lost – not just those associated with your base salary.
Areas often overlooked by individuals attempting to settle with an insurance company include:
- Loss of commissions on sales
- Loss of fringe benefits
- Loss of pension benefits
- Money that reflects a promotion or wage increase provided you were due for a wage increase or promotion while out of work
- Bonuses that you were paid in the past and were on track to receive prior to your injury
- Sick leave and vacation you may have used while recovering from your injuries
A skilled personal injury attorney will work with your employer to identify all areas of lost income and will bring these to the attention of the insurance company.
Is the Insurer Covering Non-Economic Damages?
A final area of compensation that the insurance company may try to downplay is that of non-economic damages. These are damages that do not have immediate monetary values placed on them, like lost wages and medical bills do, and understanding how much these damages are actually worth can be near impossible for those without personal injury experience.
Most insurance companies use formulas to determine an extra amount to be added to your settlement as non-economic damages. This amount is normally a predetermined percentage of you economic damages.
This kind of approach does not address your unique damages and is most often added by the insurer to make it look as though they are going above and beyond in paying out your claim so you will not hire an attorney. Think of it as “hush money.”
Non-economic damages that should be considered include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
Attorneys understand how non-economic damages work and how to assign value to these damages, allowing you to recover the financial compensation you truly deserve.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys is a personal injury law firm with offices in Corpus Christi, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, and Houston, Texas representing accident victims nationwide. Our priority is to provide our clients with the best legal representation. Our experienced trial attorneys are committed to defending your rights in personal injury matters including defective products, recalled drugs, child injuries, and auto accidents.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact our offices immediately – we are available 24/7, nights and weekends.