What Is a Good Settlement Offer?
Filing a personal injury claim may mean that you need to spend considerable time navigating settlement offers. Many people, however, do not know how to determine whether they have received a settlement offer that fairly reflects the damages they have suffered as a direct result of their injuries.
A good settlement offer may vary substantially from one claim to another. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can give you a better idea of how much compensation you should expect as part of a reasonable settlement and, in many cases, how to determine whether that offer fits your needs effectively.
Compensation for all your current medical expenses
At a minimum, a reasonable settlement offer in most personal injury claims will include compensation for the medical costs you faced as a direct result of the accident. A personal injury claim, at its root, aims to compensate you for the expenses you sustained as a direct result of another party’s negligence. Your medical costs will, in many cases, serve as the foundation of that financial loss.
Take a look at your actual financial costs because of the accident and make sure you fairly calculate your medical bills. Ideally, you would have kept receipts for all medical bills as you move through your recovery to reflect the costs you have faced accurately.
You may want to recover compensation for:
- Ambulance transport and emergency treatment
- Hospital treatment/hospitalization
- Long-term care, including in-home care if needed
- Any procedures needed to treat your injuries
- Durable medical equipment, including home medical equipment
- Physical, occupational, or psychological therapy
In addition, you should consider the cost of any modifications you may have needed to your home as a direct result of the injuries you sustained in the accident. For example, did you have to install a new hospital bed to help you get out of bed? Did you have to widen your doorways because you need wheelchair access? Did you have to install a wheelchair ramp to make it possible to get in the door? Those expenses can add up substantially. A fair settlement offer will include compensation for those financial challenges.
Compensation for the anticipated cost associated with future medical care
When you work with a lawyer to manage a personal injury claim, your lawyer will likely recommend waiting to file your claim until you have a solid idea of your long-term medical costs. You may need your current medical costs to put together a fair estimate of what your medical care after the accident has cost you.
In addition, however, a fair settlement offer should include compensation for future medical costs you know you will face because of the accident but which you might not have had to face yet.
Suppose, for example, that you find out that you will need a joint replacement three to five years after your accident. Since you need to file a claim before the statute of limitations runs out, and you do not want to wait three or more years, you need to include those costs as a future anticipated medical expense related to your injuries.
In addition, you may discover that your injuries will require ongoing medical care, in some cases for the rest of your life. For example, spinal cord injury victims may expect to pay $100,000 or more in medical expenses each year after the accident, while amputees can expect recurring costs for expensive prosthetic replacements. Talk to your care team about the anticipated cost of future medical care, including what your long-term medical needs will look like, and make sure you include those costs as part of your claim.
Compensation for any wages you lost because of the accident and your injuries.
A serious accident can lead to substantial overall wage loss in many cases. You may find yourself out of work for days, weeks, or even months while recovering from those devastating injuries. Even once you can return to work, you may have to modify your schedule to work around ongoing appointments.
If you require any further procedures during your recovery, you may miss even more time at work. Those lost wages can feel catastrophic, especially if you do not have an additional source of income during your recovery.
Talk to your lawyer about the financial losses you faced because you missed out on income during your recovery. Your lawyer can help you calculate the value of those lost wages, which you should receive in a fair settlement offer regarding your injuries.
Compensation for the suffering you faced because of your injuries
A good personal injury settlement will consider your direct financial losses and provide some compensation for the non-financial losses that went along with your injuries. In many cases, those losses can prove just as devastating as the physical injuries associated with the accident. Compensation for pain and suffering, also known as the general damages associated with the accident, should factor into a reasonable settlement offer.
Talk to your lawyer about the suffering you have faced and how to calculate it effectively to determine how the insurance company should reasonably include it as part of your claim.
You may want to ask:
- Did your injuries cause substantial physical pain? Will they continue to cause ongoing pain even after you recover as much as possible from those injuries?
- Do your injuries prevent you from enjoying activities that once filled a big part of your life?
- Did you have to miss out on opportunities or activities you would normally have enjoyed because of your injuries?
- Did your injuries cause mental or emotional concerns, including PTSD, anxiety, or depression?
- Did your injuries impact your relationship with loved ones negatively?
A good settlement offer will include some compensation for the pain and suffering you went through and compensation for the financial losses you sustained in the accident.
How the Insurance Policy Can Impact Your Settlement?
The insurance policy that covers the liable party can substantially impact what constitutes a good or reasonable settlement offer. In many cases, an insurance policy will dictate how much the insurance company can and will pay you for the injuries you sustained due to the negligence of the insured party. However, some exceptions may exist to those insurance policies that can make obtaining the full compensation you deserve for your injuries easier.
Having a lawyer look over the insurance policy’s terms can often give you a better idea of exactly what compensation you should expect for your injuries based on the terms of the insurance policy. A lawyer can also help fully establish liability for your claim, making it easier for you to move through the claim and get the compensation you deserve.
How Do You Know You Have Received a Good Settlement Offer?
Each personal injury claim has unique elements, and a good settlement offer may rely heavily on the losses suffered by the injured party. To determine whether you have received a settlement offer that reasonably reflects your needs, you may want to take these important steps.
Review your financial losses related to the accident
Ultimately, the financial losses you suffered because of your injuries will substantially influence the compensation you deserve. For example, if you suffered a broken bone in an accident, returned to work relatively quickly, and did not have any complications in the recovery process, you may need and deserve less compensation overall.
Someone who sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident and ended up having to spend months out of work with a lifetime of potentially extreme medical bills ahead may deserve substantially more compensation.
Take a close look at the losses you sustained directly from your accident and what those losses have meant to you overall. Calculate your medical bills and the wages you have lost. When you know how much you have spent because of the accident and your injuries, you can often get a much better picture of how much a reasonable settlement would include.
Talk to a lawyer about what might constitute a reasonable settlement offer.
Trying to handle a serious injury claim on your own could result in you accepting far less compensation than you deserve for the injuries you sustained in your accident. Insurance companies may use various strategies to take advantage of injured parties, including issuing settlement offers that simply do not reflect the victim’s real needs and blaming any shortage in the available funds on the insurance company’s policies.
On the other hand, a lawyer can often take a much closer look at your claim and the compensation you reasonably deserve for your injuries. A lawyer can help review similar past cases, go over the insurance policy terms, and even review the full losses you have sustained to arrive at a range of compensation you should realistically expect from the insurance company.
In addition, working with a lawyer can often help you get a better settlement offer. When insurance companies see that you have chosen to work with a lawyer, they will often issue a better, more reasonable settlement that reflects your actual financial needs.
Plan to negotiate.
Personal injury claims often involve a long, drawn-out process, including substantial negotiation on the road to determining how much compensation you deserve. An insurance company’s initial settlement offer rarely reflects the full compensation the insurance company can reasonably offer or should offer, based on both the terms of its policies and the losses you faced due to the accident.
Getting a fair settlement offer may involve multiple rounds of negotiation. Your lawyer can help you showcase the full extent of your financial losses related to the accident and push for the compensation you deserve, which may help you get a settlement that fully reflects your actual losses.
Accept that you may need to wait some time to receive a reasonable settlement agreement and that, in the meantime, you may need to conduct those ongoing negotiations. Ultimately, strong negotiating for the compensation you deserve can put you in a better financial position long-term.
What Should I Do if I Receive a Bad Settlement Offer?
Often, insurance companies will lead with a bad settlement offer that may not come close to offering the full compensation you should realistically expect for your injuries. You do not have to accept a settlement offer that does not reflect your needs. Instead, you can continue to fight and get help for that fight.
If you have not already secured an attorney, a poor settlement offer should indicate that you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. If you do have an attorney, your attorney can advise you about your next steps, from refuting the insurance company’s assertion of blame for the accident to submitting a counteroffer that reflects the damages you sustained and, as a result, expect from the insurance company.
Working with a lawyer can help you navigate the injury claim process and give you a clear picture of the compensation you can expect for your injuries and losses. If you suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence, contact an attorney as soon as possible for help with your claim.