Huge Mistake #5
Accepting an early settlement
Sometimes, it’s impossible for the insurance company to avoid giving you money. In this case, they will try to get you to accept an early settlement. Usually, these settlements are not enough to cover all of your lost wages and medical bills. But, if they can talk you into accepting an early settlement, that is a huge win for the insurance company.
Insurance companies have experience with cases like yours. They know that injuries can appear small before they cause more serious problems down the road. If they can get you to accept an early settlement, they are happy that they won’t have to pay you any more money for future medical treatment or loss of wages. To be clear, once you have accepted a settlement, you cannot go back and ask for more money.
A lot of people think that if you decline the early settlement then that money is gone forever. THAT IS NOT TRUE! You can still accept the settlement if you pursue other options beforehand. It’s understandable that people get excited by the possibility of money, but there is no reason to rush into accepting it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by being patient and seeking advice for what your best move is. It’s always best to understand all your options before accepting any settlements.
I had a client who injured his neck in a car crash. We’ll name him Dave. Dave wanted to settle his case as quickly as possible. He had not seen a doctor, so he did not know how serious the injury was. Based on my experience with these cases, I knew that injuries can become more serious over time, even if they seem to be healing quickly. I told him to go see a doctor about his neck injury. It appeared to me that it was more serious than Dave wanted to admit. He refused to take my advice, wanting to get the settlement money fast.
He settled his case for a small amount of money, thinking he got what he wanted. Fast forward six months, Dave calls me back and says that he has a herniated disc in his neck (a serious injury) and that he needs surgery. He wanted to “reopen” his case and go for more money. It was too late. Dave had already signed a release waiving his right to go back and ask for more money. He refused to listen to my advice about seeing a doctor, and he had to pay for his neck surgery out of pocket.
Had Dave looked at more of his options, he wouldn’t have had to pay for the surgery. We could have pursued his case to get him a settlement that was sufficient to pay for his medical bills. You might have an injury that is so severe that the early settlement won’t be enough to cover the medical bills. But, even if your injury does not turn out to be hugely expensive, wouldn’t you rather have the peace of mind that comes from knowing all your options?