If you have ever had to deal with any type of insurance company for any reason, you know how frustrating the process can be. To avoid drawn-out involvement, it is natural to want to jump at any settlement offer, no matter how meager.
However, accepting a settlement offer too soon after you have been in a car accident could be a mistake.
Changes to injuries
Car accidents can cause complicated and wide-ranging injuries. Sometimes, these injuries do not fully reveal themselves for months or even a year. You may think you have stabilized or are on the road to recovery when, all of a sudden, your pain increases tenfold. Give yourself at least six months to see what happens with your injuries, whether they are a herniated disc, whiplash, numbness, spinal damage, head trauma or something else.
Waiting at least six months also gives you time to see the natural outcomes of your injuries. For example, if you had to cut back on your work hours, have you been able to return to work full time without pain? If not, how severe is the pain, and how much longer might it last?
Leveraging the playing field
An insurance company that comes up with a quick settlement offer does not necessarily have anything to hide, but acts with the awareness that injuries can get worse. Thus, the company has an incentive to get you to settle early. If you wait to accept an offer, the insurance company may acknowledge your expertise and begin to treat you more fairly.
Of course, you may not be able to afford to wait. You might need that settlement money as soon as possible to simply stay afloat. If you must accept a settlement early, there is no shame in doing so. However, it is a good idea to find a lawyer to go over the settlement offer. An experienced attorney may be able to quickly negotiate a higher dollar amount.