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Look out for low-ball settlement offers

After you have been injured in a car accident, you are faced with mounting medical bills, loss of income while you recover and other purely economic costs, in addition to pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages. If the other driver is at fault, their insurance company should offer you a settlement to pay for your bills. Think twice before you accept it. Talk it over with a personal injury attorney.

First, remember that insurance companies aren't in business because they want to lose money. They have an incentive to offer you less than you deserve. What's more, the insurance company may calculate your damages in a way that leaves out some of your actual losses. For instance, it may offer to pay the medical bills you have incurred so far, without paying for the bills you will incur in the future, even when they are related to the same accident. The insurance company may also fail to take into account the pain you are experiencing and the many ways it is negatively affecting your life.

Next, remember that a settlement offer will almost certainly include language that legal prohibits you from filing a lawsuit later, should you find that you settled for less than you need.

An attorney can help you calculate your damages more effectively. Once you have a more accurate calculation, an attorney can write a demand letter to the insurance company, in which you explain the accident, your injuries and your damages, and request a better settlement without going to court.

Sometimes, this is enough. The insurance company may decide it's better to avoid litigation and offer you a better settlement. Often, it's not enough. The insurance company may reject your demand. In that case, you may have to carry on with litigation.

That said, there will likely still be more chances for a settlement before your case goes to trial, and perhaps some during a trial. More than 90% of lawsuits are settled out of court.

To make sure you recover the maximum compensation, talk with a skilled personal injury attorney about your options, and don't let an insurance company intimidate or scare you into settling for less than you need.

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