As a motor vehicle accident attorney in Trinity, it has been our experience that insurance companies for the at-fault diver will approach victims of accidents immediately after an accident, but before the injured person has spoken to an attorney, and make a settlement.
Progressive is notorious for doing this. It is part of their business model. They have their Progressive mobile agents that go directly to the accident scene or to your home and offer you a settlement right there on the spot. The offer is made in a friendly, “we care about you” manner, thus lowering your guard and gaining your trust.
It seems like a very nice gesture on their part, but beware as it is not in your best interest to accept it at that time.
Typically, the settlement offer is $500.00 to $1,500.00, and in exchange for the money, you will be required to sign a release. If you sign that release, you enter into a contract with them, releasing the at-fault driver and their insurance company from any further injury claims as it relates to that accident.
At that point, your case against the other driver and their insurance company is over.
There’s no way to know at that moment – before you’ve seen a doctor or spoken to a lawyer – whether the insurance company’s settlement offer is fair. That determination can only be made once you have the knowledge of the extent of your injuries and information on what treatment is going to be needed and whether those injuries are going to fully heal.
Only the passing of time and the investigation and treatment of your injuries will give you the information needed to weigh that offer against your injury condition to determine the fairness of it. As we tell our clients, wait until you know the value of your case before agreeing to a settlement with the insurance company. You don’t have a crystal ball, and thus the majority of the time, the early settlement only benefits the insurance company and their insured, not you!
We have met with multiple people who we could not help because they had taken early, low-ball settlement offers from insurance companies and thus entered into contracts of settlement to later find out that their injuries were far more significant than they thought, and now the money they received won’t even cover their medical bills. Some of these clients were even in need of surgery, and the minimal, initial offer clearly did not provide for that.
So, beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. If the money offered early by the insurance company really is fair, then that offer will still be available at the end of your course of treatment. Consult with an attorney before speaking to the insurance company.
If you have any questions about early settlement offers, or if you are in need of a personal injury attorney in New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Brooksville or Inverness, please let us know. We’re always here for you.