Car accidents that cause injuries tend to leave those involved feeling disoriented and out of sorts. It can take a long time to feel confident and centred again, and that can be dangerous in its own right.
Some accident victims who sustain serious injuries end up accepting settlements that do not serve their interests well. It will often be far more prudent to wait than to accept a settlement offer made soon after an accident. There are three particularly important reasons to wait.
1. Your Case Could Get Stronger
Insurers and others often make settlement offers so soon after accidents happen that responsibility cannot yet be accurately assigned. When the details of an accident still seem a bit murky, it might feel like accepting a settlement would be the best way to put the past behind and start moving on.
Assuming that someone else was actually at fault, though, this will almost always be a mistake. In some cases, insurers will actually be privy to facts that give them a clearer view of who was at fault than will the victims of an accident. Insurance company representatives will use this advantage to make low settlement offers that can still seem reasonable to people who are in the dark.
As the website of one San Antonio personal injury lawyer makes clear, waiting until more of the relevant facts become available can easily pay off. Even a bit of delay to let the dust settle can allow important information to come to light. When that happens, an insurer's offer will almost always be increased to account for the revelations.
2. Your Medical Situation Will Still be in Flux
Even people who seek treatment immediately after being involved in car accidents often take a while to arrive at a complete understanding of their injuries and medical needs. Millions of Americans visit the emergency room every year because of vehicular accidents, but that is often only the first step toward figuring out just how much damage was done.
A settlement offer that seems generous in the immediate aftermath of an accident can later be revealed to be grossly insufficient. When an insurer makes such an offer, it will require the affected party waive all rights to additional compensation as a condition of accepting that offer.
Should it later become clear that a person will need a lot more treatment and rehabilitation than was originally thought, there will then be no hope of obtaining compensation for the costs.
Even when an early settlement seems most welcome and appealing, it will generally be best to hold out for a while. Talking with doctors and other health professionals will help clarify whether the medical impact of an accident has been fully determined.
3. Offers Almost Always Rise Over Time
The first offer an insurer makes will rarely be anywhere near as high as the company is willing to go without a fight. It is entirely common for an early settlement offer to be raised a number of times even without a lawsuit being filed.
Financial pressures and other factors can still make the acceptance of an early offer seem appealing. It will be necessary to live with that decision forever, which will almost always make at least a bit of forbearance worthwhile.
Waiting a While is Generally the Best Policy
For these three reasons and a number of others, it will rarely be best to accept an early settlement offer after being injured in a car accident. It can take a bit of discipline to hold firm, but pursuing negotiations will almost always be the better bet.