Should I Accept The Car Insurance Company’s First Offer?

August 23, 2021
Randy Lafferty, Esq. | Bard Shober, Esq.

Should I accept the Car Insurance Companies First offer

Many car accidents are accompanied by property damage, physical injuries, and sometimes even loss of time from work.  It is a high-stress time in your life, and a quick settlement from the insurance carrier for the other driver may seem like a gift from heaven.  But, should you accept that first offer?

As tempting as accepting the first settlement offer from an insurance company may be, there are definitely reasons to wait. You may want to say yes because of mounting medical bills or loss of income from time out-of-work, but we highly recommend you reach out to an attorney to ensure that you receive the best offer possible, and are compensated for ALL of your injuries.

Why not accept it?

First, the insurance company’s initial settlement offer is just that, the first of multiple offers they may make.  And, it will almost always be a low offer.  The insurance company is negotiating with you to pay you money in exchange for your release of all rights against their insured – and it is extremely unlikely they will make their best and highest offer right at the outset.

Second, as stated above, the condition for the payment is that you give up all of your rights to get compensation against their insured driver.  Depending on the force of the collision, the extent of your physical injuries, and the amount of lost income, those rights they’re asking you to give up can be considerable.  You should not sign any document that gives up your rights without  a lot of thought, and the advice of someone with experience in this situation – a personal injury attorney.

In addition, many insurance companies know that a person injured in an accident will not take into account long term effects that the settlement should cover. For example, you may think you have a limited injury at the time of the initial settlement offer, but this injury may not improve, but actually persist and get worse.  You ultimately may require extended medical treatment, and even surgery.  Perhaps even more important, you may be dealing with nagging injuries from the accident that will last years and years; don’t sell your rights to compensation for your injuries until you truly know what your injury is. 

An insurance company may be quick to send an offer over before the person injured has had a chance to get looked at by a medical professional; before the person can consult with an experienced attorney for advice.  By accepting that offer, it is highly likely the compensation will not compensate you fully for your injuries, including, for example, reimbursement for uncovered medical expenses, and lost wages.

It may seem counterintuitive to reject the first offer, however you are absolutely free to reject the first settlement offer, and in most cases you should.

Once you reject the first offer, it then opens up the door for true negotiation of your claim. Representation by a respected law firm and their lawyers and staff ensures that you are negotiating on equal footing with the insurance carrier.  Most auto insurance carriers are multi-million dollar corporations staffed with experienced adjusters and lawyers whose primary job is to minimize the settlement payout to you.  You need someone on your side with equal (or better) experience and know-how, who is working to maximize your recovery.  That is the only way to make sure you are fully compensated for your losses.

It should be no surprise that once confronted with a counter-offer (your response to the initial offer) presented by experienced legal counsel, the insurance adjuster that is assigned to your case often has the authority to offer you more for your injuries.

Here are some basic guidelines to consider before accepting any offer from an auto insurance representative:

1. It is very unlikely that the first offer from an insurance carrier is their best or highest offer.

2. You have every right to reject their offer and make a counter offer – a demand for what you think your case is worth.  Remember, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

3. Before you accept payment for your injuries you must know what the nature and extent of ALL your injuries are.  Don’t sell your rights until you know what they are, and what they’re worth.

4. To know what your injuries are, you need to see a medical expert – that’s a medical doctor.  We highly recommend you follow their advice, and get the tests and treatment they prescribe.

5. To know what your rights are you need to speak with a legal expert – that’s an attorney.  An experienced personal injury attorney can tell you how your insurance coverage works to pay your medical bills and property damage, and provide invaluable advice about managing your personal injury claim, and presenting it to the insurance carrier in the best light.  

The overwhelming majority of personal injury claims will settle at some point (it is estimated that more than 95% of all personal injury claims settle without a trial).  Getting appropriate medical care, and sound legal advice is essential to make sure that you get paid for the injuries caused by another driver, and are not taken advantage of by the other driver’s auto insurance company.

Call a Personal Injury lawyer as soon as you realize you have been injured in a car accident, and never accept a settlement offer until you have evaluated your injuries and have the advice of an experienced attorney. The attorney will help guide you through the process and ensure you are receiving  compensation for all of your injuries.

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