Quick Personal Injury Settlements – Generally Not In Your Best Interest
When personal injury lawyers try to convince you to hire them because they can get you a quick settlement – walk away, fast.
A personal injury attorney’s most important job is to protect you and your future. A lawyer does this by maximizing the amount of your recovery to pay for all past damages, and hopefully any expected future damages. A quick settlement is usually code for “I want to get you money quick so I can earn my attorney fees soon and with little effort.”
This, except in the rare circumstance, is not in your best interest.
Maximum Medical Improvement
Generally, your attorney should wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement before starting negotiations on your case. If your attorney does not, how does he or she know what your case is worth?
Even after you are discharged and you initially feel that you are improved, our office likes to wait a month or two to allow you to get back into your normal daily activities to see if your body holds up and make sure your injuries do not flare up again. If they do, you may need additional care.
If you are able to return to normal daily activities and still feel back to normal, we will then put together all your medical records, bills, and lost earnings documentation and prepare a settlement package for the insurance company and begin negotiating.
At this point, it will take additional time for the insurance company to review the materials, evaluate your case and present an offer. Generally, the initial offer is a mere fraction of what your case is worth. Therefore, it will take additional time for your attorney to negotiate back and forth, and perhaps file a lawsuit and litigate the case to prove to the insurance company that you are willing to fight for what your case is worth.
Serious Injuries Require Additional Time
What if your injuries are more serious and you will never be completely recovered? This is all the more reason to make sure your attorney takes the time to determine the value of your injuries.
If possible, it is best to wait until your injuries have plateaued and you know exactly what problems you will be dealing with into the future. This is not always possible, as your injuries may not stabilize before your case must be litigated. It is then imperative that your attorney takes the time to assemble the proper medical experts to be able to prove what care you will need in the future to best meet your medical and financial needs.
The exception to all of this is when there are limited funds compared to the value of your injuries (even in the beginning), in the form of minimum insurance policies and/or collectible funds. At that point, once due diligence into the amount of money available is completed, a quick settlement may be meeting your needs – even if it’s less than what your case is worth.
Remember, you are the client and you will be the one who has to live with the injuries for the rest of your life. Take the time to make sure you are receiving the compensation you deserve, and not just earning your attorney a “quick” fee.