The majority of personal injury claims arising from Florida car accidents end when a plaintiff accepts a settlement offer from an insurance company. Insurance providers want to avoid the risk of a significant jury award and injured accident victims are often enticed by a quicker payment than is possible through a lawsuit. In other cases, the circumstances and surrounding facts make accepting an offer a more reasonable decision than suing. However, if an insurance company makes an offer, does an accident victim lose their right to sue? The answer is no, as long as the offer was not accepted. In the following paragraphs, our experienced Ft. Lauderdale personal injury lawyer from South Florida Law, PLLC, discusses the effects of an insurance settlement offer.
Why Insurance Companies Offer Settlements After Car Accidents in Florida
Insurance companies are typically businesses operating to make a profit – just like nearly every other business. This means the decisions that insurance companies make are based on their bottom line. By collecting monthly insurance premium payments and limiting the amount of money that they are required to pay to injured accident victims, insurance companies focus on profits.
When an insurance company represents an at-fault driver, settling with the injured victim could be more favorable to its financial well-being than a judgment awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. Nonetheless, there are some important things to understand about insurance companies.
First, insurance companies employ professional adjusters who are not looking out for your best interests. They understand that accident victims are stressed, vulnerable, and worried about the financial costs associated with their injuries. Because of these and other factors, Florida car accident victims will often immediately accept the first offer, even though it could be artificially low and unfair.
Furthermore, during any conversation, an insurance adjuster will be looking for statements that could be used to limit or deny an injury claim. Anything statement that could be construed as an admission of fault or a downplaying of the severity of your injuries will be used against you. This is why it is important to consult an experienced Hollywood, FL car accident lawyer as early as possible after your car accident.
You Are Not Required to Accept an Insurance Settlement Offer in Florida
You are under no obligation to accept a settlement offer from an insurance company. In fact, in nearly every case, it is not advisable to take the first offer. As stated above, an initial offer is usually unfair and an insurance company is hoping you accept.
So, what are your options? First, you are permitted to reject the offer and make a counterproposal. It is advisable to have a skilled Ft. Lauderdale car accident attorney representing your interests at this point – even if you are not considering pursuing a personal injury claim at the time. An attorney will help you understand the value of your claim, the strength of your legal case, and handle communications with the insurance agent to help avoid any misstatements that could be used against you in the future.
if you accept a low offer, other issues could come to light over time. For example, your injuries could be severely worse than you initially thought or your recovery might not progress as anticipated. Under these circumstances, you could incur significantly more medical expenses and lost income.
A settlement offer does not prohibit you from filing a personal injury claim. When an insurance company offers you unfair compensation, you have the right to refuse and pursue a lawsuit in court.
Accepting an Insurance Offer After a Florida Car Accident
However, if you accept a settlement offer, you will most likely have to sign a release of liability form. This release will state that, by accepting the proposed compensation, you will forfeit any further rights you could have – including filing a personal injury lawsuit. A release of liability is a binding contract that Florida courts will enforce. You should not accept a settlement offer without consulting with a Hallandale Beach car accident attorney.
Situations Where You Could Sue After Accepting a Settlement Offer in Florida
Accepting a settlement and signing a release of liability usually means that you are prohibited from seeking additional financial compensation, no matter what happens. As stated previously, many things could occur that render the offer you accepted insufficient to cover your expenses.
There are some limited exceptions where you might be able to file a personal injury claim after accepting a settlement offer. However, these situations are extremely rare. You should consult with a knowledgeable Hallandale FL personal injury attorney if you believe you accepted an unfair offer.
Insurance companies must act in good faith. If you are able to prove that you were the victim of fraud or that the settlement was offered in bad faith, you might be able to reopen the original claim. However, proving fraud is extremely difficult.
Typically, a settlement agreement will only release one defendant from liability. If you were in an accident where multiple parties could be held accountable, you could still have a personal injury claim against another at-fault party.
Call Our Experienced Attorney for Car Accidents Before Settling With an Insurance Company
if you were injured in a car crash, you should speak with an experienced Miami car accident attorney. Insurance companies have professional attorneys and adjusters protecting their interests. While a settlement offer could appear to be a financial windfall, accepting it will adversely impact your ability to seek additional damages if your injuries and expenses are more significant than first thought. At South Florida Law, PLLC, our goal is to maximize the compensation our clients receive, either by aggressively negotiating with an insurance company or vigorously pursuing a personal injury claim in court. Call (954) 932-7877 to review your options during a free consultation.