When Should I Settle with the Insurance Company?


If you have been in a car wreck, you probably have a lot of questions regarding your claim.  As a car accident attorney in San Francisco, I meet with clients that often ask if and when they should settle.  Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers to help you make this important decision:

What insurance company will I be working with after my accident?

This is a good question because while another driver may be responsible for your accident, you will still begin by working with your own insurance company.  They will give you a claim number that can be used by your doctor and the auto body shop repairing your car.  On the backend, your and the other driver’s insurance companies will work out who is actually responsible for paying these bills.

Do I have to deal with the insurance company on my own?

No, as a car accident attorney, I work with the insurance companies on behalf of my clients in order to negotiate fair settlement offers.  I have found that most people are incredibly stressed after getting into a crash, and by handling the insurance and legal processes, I make it possible for my clients to focus on their health.

How do I know if I am getting a fair offer from the insurance company?

Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to know whether you are getting a fair deal.  Most settlements are private, so it is not like shopping for a low insurance policy premium where you can compare different offers.  You will also need to watch out for whether they are offering you enough money to pay for the bills that you have already incurred along with time missed from work. As an attorney, I know what the industry standards are and can give you an honest opinion at any time.

I don’t like their offer because it does not include my lost wages.  What do I do?

If the insurance company does not want to pay for money lost while being unable to work due to the accident, you may need to sue them for financial damages.  The court process is in place to give you options for recourse, so while you may want to begin with the negotiations process, it does sometimes escalate to an actual court case.

If I don’t take their offer will I lose out entirely?

Not if you are working with an attorney.  You should not have to settle for less than what you deserve, nor should an insurance company pressure you into doing so by threatening total loss.  If this is happening to you, call and schedule a consultation right away.

If I settle now can I go back and ask for more money later?

No. Once the case is closed, you cannot request it be opened up again, except in very special and unique circumstances.  The vast majority of the time, what you settle for is what you get—period.  This makes it important to have both your current and future medical bills paid for along with the wages you have already and are likely to lose.  For example, if you can no longer perform the same job duties due to your injury, any money you could lose due to that should be taken into consideration when arriving at your final settlement amount.  Simultaneously, if your doctor thinks that you may need ten years of physical therapy, the settlement needs to pay enough to cover those costs so that you do not end up with massive medical bills down the road.

Can you review my settlement offer?

Absolutely.  As a car accident attorney, I can review any offer that the insurance company gives you and make a recommendation regarding how to proceed.

If you know someone that is battling with an insurance company or is uncertain as to whether to accept an offer, share this blog with them so that they can become better informed.