Navigating the aftermath of an auto accident injury can be disorienting and stressful. As you focus on your physical recovery, you must also figure out how to cover the medical bills, lost wages, and other costs stemming from the accident. When you finally receive a settlement offer, you may be tempted to accept it and move on. However, taking the initial offer could cause you to sacrifice your chance at a fair settlement. Here are three common mistakes that Riverside County auto accident victims make when negotiating their settlements and how to avoid them.
1. Admitting Fault or Expressing Guilt
At the scene of the accident, you may feel tempted to apologize to the other driver, even if you had nothing to do with the accident. Unfortunately, apologizing or explaining that you were distracted at the time of impact can negatively affect your ability to recover compensation, as the insurance company may use your words to undermine your claim. Instead, say as little as possible to the other parties at the scene, and do not attempt to explain your actions or apologize when reporting the incident to law enforcement or the insurance company.
2. Not Understanding What Your Claim is Worth
Auto insurance companies will try to pay you as little as possible to protect their bottom lines. They often try to make an initial lowball settlement offer, hoping that you’re too distracted to understand how much your claim is truly worth. Protect yourself from accepting these low offers by estimating how much money you’re owed. Take your medical bills, lost wages, physical therapy expenses, and other costs into account to come up with an estimate of your claim’s worth. Your attorney can help you with this process, ensuring that you know how much you need to get your life back on track.
3. Failing to Consult With an Auto Accident Lawyer
Although California does not require auto accident victims to retain an attorney when pursuing a claim, doing so can ensure that you obtain a fair settlement. Auto accident lawyers know how overwhelmed you feel, which is why they step in to handle communications and negotiations on your behalf. Your attorney will assess the initial offer and determine how to push for a more equitable settlement. Don’t let an insurance adjuster take advantage of your desire to recover compensation—let your attorney negotiate a fair and favorable settlement while you focus on your recovery.
If you need help securing compensation following a Temecula or Murrieta auto accident, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320 to discuss your case.