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Why You Should Not Accept the First Settlement Offer You Receive After a Car Crash

It is understandable that after a traumatic car accident you might simply want to move on with your life. The unwelcome disruption of an accident throws your life out of balance. You want to regain your footing. So, when the first settlement offer you receive comes along, you feel tempted to take it. You figure you could use the money to pay some bills and put the memory of the accident behind you.

Don’t do it.

Insurance companies make quick, lowball settlement offers to try to escape their liability to you on the cheap. What may seem like a lot of money in the moment may not come close to the amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses, or that you need to cover your future medical needs.

If you’ve been seriously injured in a car crash due to the negligent behavior of another driver, contact our Florida personal injury law firm before agreeing to, or signing, any settlement offers.

Florida No-Fault Insurance Law

Florida one of a handful of states that have a no-fault insurance law. Florida’s law is not particularly popular here, but a recent attempt to repeal the law failed in the Florida legislature, so for now the law remains in effect. Under the no fault law, Florida drivers who register a car here must carry a minimum of:

  • $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage; and
  • $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) coverage.

When a car crash occurs in Florida, anyone covered by PIP insurance files a claim under their own policy, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. The no-fault law restricts the right to sue the “other driver” to cases involving a fatality or severe or permanent injury.

Florida law also considers comparative fault or comparative negligence when determining compensation. Should your case go to trial, a judge or jury will calculate the percentage of fault of each driver. The final damages awarded are adjusted to match those percentages.

In addition to no-fault insurance, Florida also requires an auto insurance policy with limits of 10/20/10:

  • $10,000 of bodily injury or death to another person in any one accident
  • $20,000 of bodily injuries or death to another person of two or more people in a single accident
  • $10,000 of injury to or destruction of property of others in a single accident

Because of the unique characteristics of Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, car accident victims need to retain a highly experienced Florida legal team to handle negotiations with insurance companies and to plot a course with the best chance of recovering compensation the victims deserve.

Don’t let the no-fault law lead you to believe a low dollar settlement is all you are eligible to receive. Each case is different. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to compensation for additional medical bills and lost wages.

Watch out for Uninsured Settlement Offers

According to a 2017 study by the Insurance Research Council, 1 in 8 drivers in the United States is an uninsured driver. Florida reportedly has the highest number of uninsured drivers at 26.7 percent. People drive without insurance for various reasons, but no matter why they do so, driving without the proper insurance violates Florida law.

Under no circumstances should you accept a car accident liability settlement offer from an uninsured driver without first speaking with an attorney. Doing so could impair your ability to recover compensation from your own uninsured driver insurance (if you carry it), and could forfeit rights you have to compensation from other parties.

Do I Really Need a Personal Injury Lawyer to Evaluate an Insurance Settlement Offer?

Yes, you do.

At the very least, do not trust an insurance company to tell you otherwise. An insurance company’s priority is to spend the least amount of money to make your claim go away. Insurers know that when there is a lawyer representing a claimant, chances are greater they will have to spend more money than they would otherwise.

How does the right personal injury lawyer helps bring about a successful outcome of a personal injury case involving a car accident? The team at Sibley Dolman Personal Injury Lawyers, LLP can assist you with:

  1. Reviewing and investigating your case. The important first step is to figure out where you stand, both factually and legally. The accident details may still be a blur in your mind. By reviewing police reports and other documentation about the crash, an attorney can determine if you have a claim against others.
  2. Dealing with the other side. Nothing is more annoying when you are recovering from a car crash than persistent, unwanted phone calls from insurance companies and others involved in the accident. An attorney can help relieve you of that stress by handling negotiations with the other parties, their insurers, and representatives.
  3. Navigating Florida law. Lawyers, by virtue of their training and experience, understand how to navigate the Florida legal system so as to give claimants the best chance of achieving the maximum compensation available.
  4. Getting through it. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we understand how an accident can turn our clients’ worlds upside down. We are here to help our clients through a traumatic period of their lives by treating them with respect and empathy.

While you aren’t required to obtain a lawyer to retain a lawyer after a car accident, hiring one makes good financial sense. You have nothing to risk by scheduling a free consultation with an experienced car accident injury attorney. Protect your and your family’s future by contacting our office today.

Common Types of Medical Injuries from Car Accidents

2018 was a busy year for Florida highways, rural backroads, and city streets. According to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety, more than 400,000 crashes occurred in 2018. Total fatalities were more than 3,000 with injuries listed at more than 250,000.

Whether you are walking along a quiet country road, commuting on your bike to work, or traveling on a congested highway, you are at risk of a collision resulting in serious injury. Common types of medical injuries from car accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Broken bones
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Torn ligaments

The more serious the injury, the longer the recovery. For many car accident victims, there is no immediate return to the life they once knew. From relearning basic life skills to regaining mobility, recovery requires time. It also can require repeated surgeries, expensive medications, and long-term costs. It is these costs that insurance companies often try to avoid by offering quick, lowball settlements.

A Closer Look at Medical Expenses Over Time

Major medical expenses rarely decrease over time. Instead, the costs associated with medical care tend to increase to unimaginable amounts. Let’s take a close look at certain injuries and the associated expenses involved:

Example One: Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury affects a person’s sensory, motor, and reflex functions. The higher on the spinal cord the damage occurs, the more dysfunction the patient will experience. A spinal cord injury is classified as either complete or incomplete. The classification depends upon whether the patient experiences any movement or sensation at or below the point of injury.

The average yearly health care and living expenses associated with a spinal cord injury depend upon the severity of the injury and the age at which the injury occurred. According to data from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the estimated lifetime costs are:

For patient’s with high tetraplegia (C1-C4) ASIS ABC:

  • Age 25: $4.7 million
  • Age 50: $2.5 million

For patients with low tetraplegia (C5-C8):

  • Age 25: $3.4 million
  • Age 50: $2.1 million

Unexpected complications and changes in the patient’s health add additional costs. A home may need modification to accommodate a wheelchair or you may need to relocate your family closer to a medical facility. Accessible methods of transportation are another expensive consideration.

While it is hard to predict a patient’s future needs, the amount estimated above clearly demonstrates why no accident victim should ever settle for a low dollar offer. The offer may make the other party go away but it won’t help you cover your future healthcare needs, which can quickly escalate into the millions.

Example Two: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) define a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts brain function. Car accidents are among the top three leading causes of TBIs.

A severe TBI requires hospitalization and a patient may experience long-term problems with:

  • Speech, hearing, or vision
  • Coordination or balance
  • Thinking and memory
  • Learning and emotions

In some cases, outpatient or in-home care are options for rehabilitative therapies such as physical, occupational, and speech. In the event a patient needs round-the-clock skilled nursing care, the estimated monthly nursing home costs in Florida are:

  • $7,908 for a semi-private room
  • $8,882 for a private room

A severe TBI changes not only the patient’s life—but it also changes the lives of her family. If the patient was the primary financial provider, the loss of income is devastating. Assurance that your loved one receives quality care for the remainder of her life is something no low dollar settlement will provide.

These are just two examples of how a sudden injury can result in a lifetime of expensive care. Your financial future depends upon a highly-skilled personal injury lawyer reviewing the details of your case. Securing the best possible outcome for you is what a dedicated lawyer will do; securing the best possible outcome for themselves is what an insurance company or uninsured driver will try to do.

Don’t Settle Without a Skilled Car Accident Attorney

A first settlement offer from an insurance company usually isn’t large enough to cover all of your current financial needs, much less future ones. Don’t give in to the temptation to take it.

There are many factors that will influence the compensation you and your family need. Insurance settlements are not a “one size fits all” proposition. Insurance representatives may try to tell you otherwise, insisting you should take their word for what other car accident victims have received in other matters.

You know better.

Your situation is unique to you. You or your loved one’s injuries are not comparable to anyone else. Your medical care and needs will differ. A proper settlement must reflect the circumstances surrounding—and resulting from—your specific crash.

Stand firm and know that turning down a first settlement offer is a smart move. Contacting the experienced car accident attorneys at Sibley Dolman Personal Injury Lawyers is your next smart move. We have years of experience representing clients in negotiations with insurance companies. While there can never be a guarantee of how a negotiation will turn out, we have succeeded in recovering substantial insurance settlements on behalf of many of our other car accident clients.

Call Sibley Dolman Personal Injury Lawyers, LLP, for Help With Your Insurance Claims

At Sibley Dolman Personal Injury Lawyers, we believe that no Florida driver, or any driver who visits from another state, should accept an insurance settlement without talking to a qualified attorney first. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we know all-too-well the games insurance companies and uninsured drivers try to play to settle a case quickly for an insufficient dollar value.

Don’t fall for insurance companies’ tricks. You deserve every penny of damages the law allows you to collect. Instead of taking a quick settlement, call our team at Sibley Dolman Personal Injury Lawyers at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We have offices in Aventura, Doral, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale. The sooner you meet with us, the better your chances of preserving your rights to recover the compensation you deserve.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1820 NE 163rd St 306
North Miami Beach, FL, 33162
(305) 676-8154

North Miami Beach Personal Injury Lawyer