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The Challenge Of Identifying A Fair Settlement Offer

Facing injuries that are sustained in an accident is difficult, and can bring tremendous uncertainty with it. After all, wondering how all of your bills will be paid or where you’ll earn money until you’re healed are things that aren’t often considered by those who haven’t been hurt. But it’s a very real concern, and a key reason why being offered an out of court settlement is something that most who are injured will gladly accept.

However, there’s more to those settlement offers than many realize. In fact, they’re often a tactic used by insurance companies to take advantage of you, not to help you. Accepting a settlement means that you can’t seek further damages for your injuries, and when you’re offered an amount that isn’t really what it should be, you’re basically taking hush money. It can be tempting to take the fast cash and be done with it, but if it doesn’t completely solve your financial problems that were triggered by the accident, is it worth it?

That’s the primary reason that finding a personal injury attorney is so important. They can review the settlement offer and make sure it’s something that’s actually fair for you and your situation. Before you even go that far, having a clear idea as to what goes into a settlement or a court-ordered award is a good idea. Here’s a rundown of the primary factors that influence what you may receive as a result of your injury lawsuit.

  • Medical Costs – These are just what they sound like. Settlements usually begin being calculated by looking at the medical costs you’ve had to pay as a result of your injuries. Things like hospital bills and doctor’s visits will be totaled up and added to the figure.
  • Lost Wages – If your injuries have made it hard or impossible to work for any period of time, you’ve likely lost wages. That translates to a need to get the money you would have earned had you been healthy, and these lost wages are included in settlement agreements.
  • Future Medical Costs – Here’s where settlements start to get more complex. Those initial ones you’re offered usually won’t include things like future medical costs. But if your injuries will end up requiring long-term physical therapy or create situations where you regularly have to go see medical professionals, that should be included in your settlement amount.
  • Future Lost Wages – Similarly, if you’re disabled then what about the wages you would have earned throughout the future? Those are taken away from you by your injury, and getting compensation for it is important.
  • Punitive Damages – These are what scare most insurance companies. They’re awarded by the courts as a kind of punishment for doing something reckless or negligent, and are where the large, headline generating settlements come from in most cases. They’re not as utilized in an out of court settlement, but their potential could play a factor in things.
  • Pain and Suffering – Like punitive damages, these are determined by a court and can vary wildly, leading to some incredibly high awards. In settlements they’re not always a factor, but being aware of them is important.

As you can see, there’s a lot to it that goes beyond just being offered some lowball settlement amount and blindly accepting it. That’s why finding an attorney who can work with medical and financial experts to understand what a fair amount is will be so important.

Remember that often, until you get an attorney on your side, the other party involved in your accident will likely do everything from refuse to pay to threaten court to offer low settlements in the hopes you take them. Understanding the basics behind these tactics is a good idea, but having a competent legal professional on your side is even better.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

The Challenge Of Identifying A Fair Settlement Offer

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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