After an injury accident, there are a couple of ways to get money for your damages. One process involves filing a claim with your insurance company. Your insurance company will deal with the other insurance company to determine who was liable for the accident. The insurance company will try and settle the claim, including payment for vehicle damage and any injuries.
The other process involves filing a personal injury lawsuit. In a lawsuit, your lawyer will represent you and make a claim for damages caused by the accident. Through litigation, your attorney will try and get the responsible parties to pay for the damage. If the other parties do not come up with a reasonable settlement offer, you may take the case to trial.
A settlement offer can be made and negotiated at any time after a claim or lawsuit is filed. Accepting the settlement offer generally means the claim will be closed and you will not pursue any further legal action. It is important to understand the benefits and limitations of a settlement agreement in an injury accident.
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com have represented victims injured in auto accidents in Colorado. We will investigate your claim, deal with the insurance company, and fight to get you the money to replace your car, pay your medical bills, and cover your lost income after an accident. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Insurance Settlement Offers After an Auto Accident in Colorado
After filing a claim for damages in an accident, the insurance company will likely make a settlement offer. A settlement offer will close the claim and end any further action. Taking the case to court can be expensive for the insurance company so they may have an interest in finalizing the claim before the case goes to trial.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to accept a settlement offer is up to you. Your lawyer can advise you of your options, give you an idea of the strength of your claim and the amount of your damages. If you are satisfied with the offer, you may decide to accept it. If you are not satisfied with the offer, you may continue to negotiate for a higher settlement or take your case to court.
Limitations of a Settlement Agreement
When entering into a settlement agreement, the agreement generally provides that the plaintiff or injury victim will release the other party from liability. This means that the plaintiff will not pursue any further actions against the defendant, including filing insurance claims, personal injury lawsuits, or property damage lawsuits.
Settlement Should Cover All Damages
Before agreeing to a settlement, the injury victim should have a full understanding of their damages. For example, an injury victim should not agree to settle the case while they are still seeking medical treatment because they may not know the extent of their injuries. Car accident injuries can be tricky and may develop over time, including neck, back, or head injuries.
If the injury victim accepts a settlement agreement and later finds out the physical damage was much more extensive, they will generally not be able to go back to the insurance company or defendant and ask for more money.
Accepting a Settlement Without Talking to a Lawyer
There is no requirement to talk to a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer, even though the injury victim may be waiving their legal rights by agreeing to the offer. The insurance company may encourage you to accept the offer quickly so you don't have time to talk to a lawyer. A settlement agreement can have serious repercussions, and should not be agreed to without a full understanding of your rights and options.
A quick review of your settlement agreement and consultation with a Colorado injury accident lawyer may reveal that the settlement offer is way too low to cover your damages and you have a better case than you realize. It is recommended to talk to a lawyer before signing away your legal rights so you can get the maximum recovery possible.
One of the other limitations of a settlement agreement is based on the defendant's ability to pay. If the defendant does not have much money, there may be little to go after. If the insurance company's policy is limited, the insurance company will not pay anything over the policy limit, even if the damages are higher. This may also limit an award in a lawsuit.
How is a Settlement Different Than a Personal Injury Award?
A settlement can be made with or without filing a lawsuit. The settlement offer has to be mutually agreed upon between the parties, including negotiating the settlement to come to an agreement. Once the settlement is agreed to and the parties sign the agreement, the claim is essentially over. There will be no further negotiations, claims, or legal action.
In a personal injury award, it is not the defendant or plaintiff who comes up with the amount of the award, it is the judge or jury. In a court case, the factfinder will determine who is liable for the accident and the extent of fault for each party. If the defendant is liable for damages, the court or jury will determine the amount of damages that should be awarded to the plaintiff. This is generally based on the evidence of damages and losses presented to the court.
A personal injury award is much less predictable than a settlement. This is one reason why so many personal injury cases settle before going to the jury. In a jury trial, the jury may determine the injury victim is responsible for the damages and the injury victim will get no money. Alternatively, the jury could make an award of even more than the plaintiff was expecting.
After a court decision, the final status may still be up in the air. The defendant may file an appeal of the court's decision or seek a reduction in the damages. This can further delay the final resolution of the case. Generally, an injury victim will have to wait longer to get a personal injury award than when accepting a settlement offer.
Can I Just Take the Settlement Amount to Speed Things Up?
A settlement is generally faster than taking the case to court. However, you should be cautious about getting a settlement offer too quickly or where the insurance company is in a hurry to get you to agree to the deal. This may be a sign that the offer is lower than the value of your claim. Talk to your lawyer about the settlement offer so you will understand all your options and make sure any settlement offer is enough to cover all your damages.
Denver Auto Accident Injury Lawyers
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com have successfully represented their clients and families who were involved in a car accident get compensation for their losses. Our attorneys understand how the insurance companies operate and will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.