In Tennessee, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance pays for any lost income and medical costs arising from an accident, and insurers may offer a fast settlement in order to close the case quickly. However, it is important for victims to realize that they will give up their rights to any additional claims stemming from the same accident once they accept a settlement, so they should weigh their options carefully before agreeing to a deal.
Factors to Consider Before Accepting a Car Accident Settlement
If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, it is likely that the insurance company responsible for covering your crash costs will offer you a settlement to resolve your case. Insurers and injury victims can negotiate settlement amounts throughout the claims process and even during a trial, and the vast majority of cases will be settled before ever proceeding to court. It may even be to your advantage to settle, as it allows you to end the dispute without taking the risk of losing at trial.
That said, before you accept or refuse a settlement offer, you should take into account:
- Whether your injuries are likely to improve. You should never accept a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries. An initial settlement may be offered just a few weeks after the crash, and it may be months before you know whether you will be able to return to work or live with permanent limitations. If you feel that an insurance company is rushing you to accept an offer, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
- The sum total of your accident costs. The amount of losses in an accident can quickly spiral into the thousands, especially if the victim has been unable to work. Victims will need to gather many different documents to calculate the amount of lost time from work, lost bonuses and sick days, property damage, hospital and outpatient appointments, mileage to medical appointments, rehabilitation, psychological treatment, and out-of-pocket costs.
- The amount of your future losses. Your injuries may require ongoing medical care, affect your future health, and severely hinder your ability to earn a living. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for victims to estimate the amount of potential financial losses, and they will need to consult with an attorney to properly value their cases.
- Your pain and suffering. Juries have the ability to award pain and suffering (called non-economic damages) of tens of thousands of dollars for emotional, physical, and psychiatric distress caused by the accident. However, most insurers will not offer an amount to cover pain and suffering unless they think the victim has a good chance of winning at trial.
- The strength of your case. Insurers’ offers are based not just on the sum total of your losses, but on the likelihood each side has of winning at trial. If the at-fault driver was intoxicated, has a poor driving record, or has a history of negligent driving, the insurer may be more likely to settle because the jury may side with the victim. Similarly, if your medical records show extensive injuries or permanent disability, the jury may be more willing to award higher pain and suffering damages.
- What your goals are. It is important to determine what the best outcome would be, as well as the minimum amount you would be willing to accept. Some victims may be concerned with their ability to support their families after an injury, while others are looking for closure after losing a loved one in the crash. Settlements often give victims more control over the terms in the outcome of their case, such as requiring a formal apology or other non-monetary compensation.
If an insurance company has offered you a settlement, we can evaluate whether the amount will meet your needs and gather the necessary documents to enter into negotiation. Whether we are able to secure you a settlement or your case proceeds to trial, our experienced car accident attorneys will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.