It always feels good to get a check in the mail, even if it is too little, too late. It still feels good to deposit the check in the bank when your health insurance company reimburses you for a doctor’s office visit you paid for out of pocket, or when a theater refunds you for a canceled show for which you bought tickets. Car insurance companies also send settlement checks after an accident to reimburse you for car repairs, car rental while your car was at the mechanic or body shop, or even medical expenses related to the accident. When your injuries are serious, though, simply pocketing the check, however meager the amount, and saying “it’s better than nothing” could do more harm than good. Instead, before you sign the letter to accept the insurance company’s settlement offer, you should review it with a car accident injury lawyer.
Don’t Sign Away Your Rights
If you sign the settlement offer letter from the insurance company, you are waiving (giving up) your right to file a lawsuit in connection to the accident. In other words, if you decide the file a lawsuit later, the chances are very high that the court will dismiss your lawsuit immediately because you already accepted the settlement offer. It is virtually impossible to win a lawsuit about a car accident for which you have accepted an insurance settlement, even harder than modifying an alimony agreement, post-divorce, when you had already specified in a prenuptial agreement, how much alimony will be paid.
Especially if you are in dire financial circumstances after your accident, it might be tempting to accept the settlement, but it is better to look at the big picture. A car accident injury lawyer can help you decide whether it is better to accept the settlement offer or whether you have a reasonable chance of winning if you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Other Car Accident Lawsuit Mistakes to Avoid
Signing a settlement offer letter from an insurance company is not the only way to ruin a personal injury lawsuit before it begins. Here are some other ways to avoid weakening your claim in a car accident injury lawsuit.
- Go to a hospital emergency room or urgent care clinic or, if possible, your primary care doctor on the same day of the accident to be examined, even if you do not have any noticeable symptoms. This way your medical records show clearly that the problems began at the time of the accident, not before or after.
- Take pictures of the cars and, if applicable, any visible injuries of yours at the scene of the accident.
- Keep a journal to show how your injuries affect your daily life.
Contact Dana and Dana About Car Accident Cases
The settlement offered by the insurance company may be adequate, but you should check with a lawyer just to be safe. Contact Dana and Dana, a personal injury law firm in Providence, Rhode Island to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
Mark Dana has been practicing in Rhode Island for over 25 years. He has handled hundreds of cases in courthouses throughout the state. Due to Attorney Dana’s knowledge and reputation, he can often be seen appearing as the legal commentator for NBC 10 in Providence.