After a car accident in Mobile, AL, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries and suffering. However, taking legal action against those responsible isn’t always as cut and dry as it should be. There’s a good chance that you’ll face off against an insurance company and be involved in some in-depth settlement discussions.
Here are five things you absolutely need to know about car accident settlement agreements.
Settlement Offers Are Almost Always Negotiable
When you file a lawsuit against a motorist or business entity after an auto accident, their auto insurance company is likely to reach out with a settlement offer in a matter of days. When they present the agreement to you, they may tell you that it is non-negotiable.
In reality, however, these deals almost always have at least a little room for maneuver.
For this reason, it is rarely advisable to accept the insurance adjuster’s first offer. Instead, it generally makes more sense to have an experienced car accident lawyer engage in settlement negotiations on your behalf.
They might be able to use their legal skills to convince the insurance company to pay you a more substantial amount of money than they initially intended.
The difference this negotiation period will make to the size of your payout depends almost entirely on the details of your accident. However, it is not at all unusual for the work of a skilled attorney to put thousands of extra dollars into the pockets of car crash victims.
Settlements Release Insurers and Policyholders from All Liability
Before you sign a settlement agreement with an auto insurance company, it is vital that you understand what you are giving up in exchange for their money. In particular, you should know that when you enter into a deal like this, you release the insurer and their policyholder from all liability related to the motor vehicle collision.
The release you grant them does not just free them from liability for those injuries noted in your initial car accident claim. It also helps them to avoid responsibility for any future health issues you might experience as a result of the crash.
In other words, if a doctor diagnoses you with an accident-related spinal cord injury six months after you agree to the settlement, you will not have the right to take legal action against the auto insurer or their policyholder. You will need to pay for your medical bills out of your own pocket.
Settlement Agreements Can Cover a Variety of Damages
Many people think that the settlements paid out after car accidents only help victims pay for their medical expenses. In reality, however, when an individual negotiates a settlement deal with an auto insurance company, they can also recover compensation for their:
- Ongoing healthcare bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
The money you will receive at the conclusion of your personal injury claim must cover a broad range of expenses. So, it is vital that you have a knowledgeable car accident attorney assess your damages before you enter into any agreements with the other party’s insurer.
When you have a skilled lawyer evaluate your claim, the amount of money you receive will no longer depend on the kindness of the insurer.
Instead, it will depend on factors such as:
- The expenses associated with your initial medical care
- The fees attached to your ongoing healthcare needs
- The cost of your physical therapy and rehabilitation
- The charges you incurred to repair or replace your broken property
- The number of days you missed from work because of your injury
- The effect your injury will have on your ability to work
- The mental anguish you endured because of your injury
- The impact your injury will have on your overall quality of life, and
- The liability limits on the at-fault party’s auto insurance policy
If the other party acted with malice, your eventual award can also include punitive (or exemplary) damages. In the state of Alabama, payouts of this nature can run as high as $500,000.
To learn more about the amount of compensation you can hope to receive at the conclusion of your car accident case, all you need to do is speak to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. They will be able to give you all the information you need to know.
Settlements Can Limit Your Rights
When an auto insurance company sends you a settlement offer, it’s tempting to skip right to the part about how much money you’ll get if you sign on the dotted line. However, not taking the time to read the offer front top to bottom can cause huge problems for you down the line. Why? You’ll miss the clauses the insurer buried in the fine print.
It is not at all uncommon for auto insurance companies to hide lines in agreements that may limit a victim’s rights or options for legal recourse.
Some of the most common limitations imposed on injured parties would include:
- Strict payment schedules
- Rules regarding how they may spend their money, and
- Mandatory arbitration to resolve disputes
The best way to make sure an unethical insurance provider doesn’t try to sneak these types of clauses into your settlement agreement is to have a skilled attorney review it before you sign. If they spot anything untoward in your contact, they can get in touch with the adjustor and tell them to remove it before you move forward.
Settlement Agreements Are Irrevocable
The final, but perhaps most important, thing you should know about auto accident settlement contracts is that they are almost always binding and irrevocable. This fact means that once you put pen to paper and agree to the terms of a deal with an auto insurance company, you cannot attempt to renegotiate at a later date. You must accept the agreement as written.
Because of the irrevocable nature of these kinds of contracts, you should never allow an insurance company to pressure you into signing any forms or legal documents. Instead, you can ask them to send you a copy of the agreement so that you may go through it with your personal injury lawyer.
Your attorney can then take some time to thoroughly examine the clauses contained in the agreement. If they do not notice any problems, they may then tell you to move forward with signing the document.
Should they see an issue, they can reach out to the insurance company to have them amend it before you sign on the dotted line. This easy step can prevent you from agreeing to anything you may come to regret in a couple of months or years.
Want More Details About the Five Things to Know About Car Accident Settlement Agreements? Contact Our Law Firm Today
Do you have any additional questions or queries about these five things to know about car accident settlement agreements? Then please pick up the phone and get in touch with the knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Lattof & Lattof, PC, in Mobile, AL. Our firm has been handling car accident cases like yours for years, and we would be happy to provide you with the information you seek.