When you suffer severe injuries in an auto accident, there is a chance that you may receive a settlement offer from your insurance company. If you receive an offer, should you accept?
If you have not hired a New Jersey car accident lawyer to represent you, the answer is almost certainly, “No.” You need a lawyer to help you make informed decisions, and the insurance companies know that unrepresented accident victims will usually accept less than they deserve. To secure a fair settlement, you need to have a clear understanding of New Jersey law, and you need to know how to convince the insurance companies to settle for just compensation.
10 Factors to Consider Before Settling a Car Accident Insurance Claim
With this in mind, before you accept an insurance settlement, there are numerous factors you need to consider. The best way to protect yourself is to hire a New Jersey auto accident lawyer who can help you carefully consider these factors and negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf.
1. Do You Know Who was At Fault in the Accident?
In New Jersey, fault is one of the key factors for determining how much you should accept in an auto insurance settlement. If the other driver was 100 percent at fault, then you are entitled to just compensation for all of your accident-related losses. On the other hand, if – and only if – you were partially at fault in the collision, then the insurance company may be justified in seeking to reduce the amount of your recovery.
2. Do You Know How Much Your Medical Needs Will Cost in the Future?
In terms of the amount you are entitled to receive for your auto accident, your long-term medical needs are an important consideration. Long-term medical care can become extraordinarily expensive, and, as a result, you need to have a clear understanding of your anticipated expenses before you accept a settlement.
3. Do You Know How Much You Will Need for Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses?
While your medical needs are likely to account for the most significant portion of your out-of-pocket expenses, you may incur various other costs as a result of your injuries as well. Does your settlement include compensation for transportation costs? Does it include compensation for any necessary modifications to your home or vehicle? Does it cover housekeepers, landscapers, childcare providers, and other service providers you will need to hire as a result of being unable to do things on your own? If it doesn’t, then there may be more on the table.
4. Do You Know How Long You Will Be Unable to Work?
In addition to your out-of-pocket costs, your auto insurance settlement should also include compensation for your loss of income. This includes not only your loss of income to date but your future loss of earnings as well. If your injuries keep you out of work for any amount of time, you are entitled to compensation for your loss of future income and benefits.
5. Have You Calculated Compensation for Your Pain and Suffering?
Under New Jersey law, auto accident victims are entitled to financial compensation for their pain and suffering. Since there is no way to place an exact dollar amount on your pain and suffering, securing a favorable settlement requires the advice and representation of a New Jersey car accident lawyer who has substantial experience negotiating with the insurance companies.
6. Have You Calculated Compensation for Your Other Non-Financial Losses?
The same is true about your other non-financial losses. In addition to pain and suffering, New Jersey law allows auto accident victims to recover just compensation for their emotional trauma, scarring and disfigurement, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, loss of services and support, and loss of enjoyment of life. Calculating just compensation for these losses is not easy – and the insurance companies will not do it for you – so you need an experienced lawyer on your side.
7. What Is Your Likelihood of Success At Trial?
If you reject a settlement offer, you are not guaranteed to receive another one. As a result, when deciding whether to accept, you also need to think about your likelihood of success if you were to take your case to trial. A favorable trial result is not guaranteed, either, so you will need to critically assess whether the risk of receiving nothing is worth the potential benefit of rejecting a settlement offer that is currently on the table.
8. How Much More Could You Recover if You Go to Trial?
In addition to considering your likelihood of success at trial, you also need to consider how much more you are likely to recover if a jury rules in your favor. If the jury awards an additional $10,000, is this worth it once you consider the additional costs? Your answer may be, “Yes,” but you will need to make an informed decision so that you do not take a risk that is not worth it.
9. What is Your “Take Home” Amount if You Accept?
If you accept the offer, how much will you take home? You will need to pay any outstanding medical bills, and your legal costs and fees will be deducted as well. Before accepting (or rejecting) a settlement offer, you will want to consult with your lawyer to ensure you know how much of the settlement will end up in your account.
10. Are You Ready to Resolve Your Claim (or Fight For More)?
Finally, while it is important not to get anxious and settle for too little, it is also worth considering your willingness to keep fighting. If the offer is slightly low but still reasonable, do you want to fight, or are you ready to resolve your claim and move on? This is a question that only you can answer; although, here too, you will want to make an informed decision based on the advice of an experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer
Were you injured in a car accident in New Jersey? To discuss your insurance claim with an accident attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., please call 877-435-6371 or request a free consultation online now.