Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
Accepting an insurance settlement is often a quick way to end a personal injury case and get some compensation for your injuries. If your injuries were not severe or you are filing for damages in a car accident case that involved property damage only, the settlement might be enough. However, in many cases, a settlement offer is going to be too low to cover your damages, and you actually should refuse to accept the offer and get a lawyer. Fayetteville personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak explains what happens when you reject a settlement offer from the insurance company and what steps you can take next to help improve your offer or get higher damages through a court case.
Can I Refuse a Settlement Offer from an Insurance Company after an Accident in Arkansas?
If you file a claim with an insurance company, you are not obligated to take it in most cases. After an injury, you could be entitled to file a lawsuit in court, and a settlement or an insurance payout is seen as an alternative resolution to that case. Going through the time and expense of a personal injury lawsuit and a jury trial might not be worth it in every case if the insurance company is willing to pay you outside of court – but not every settlement offer covers your needs.
When the at-fault driver in a car accident lawsuit or the property owner in a premises liability injury case offers to settle, they will either attempt to pay you out of pocket or their insurance company will offer you a dollar amount to end your case now and take the money. When you do this, it locks you in; you cannot go back to court later and choose to sue for more damages because the settlement is an alternative to your lawsuit.
If the settlement is too low, it might be in your best interest to refuse the offer. Typically, there is no obligation to settle the case; you always have the choice of saying no and taking the case to court if you aren’t happy with the offer. Your lawyer can also help you renegotiate the offer, potentially bargaining for higher damages.
Negotiating Injury Settlement Offers with a Lawyer in Arkansas
When you are injured, you should have an Arkansas personal injury attorney represent you. The at-fault property owner, driver, or other party is going to have a lawyer and an insurance company represent them in most cases, and it is better to have your own lawyer to handle the case rather than trying to negotiate your case on your own.
When your lawyer meets with the at-fault party’s attorney, they can work to negotiate a settlement. Ultimately, it is usually more expensive for the defendant to go to court and lose, so they might be willing to pay more now to avoid more expenses at trial. However, getting them to their maximum offer is often a matter of sharp negotiating tactics.
Your lawyer can present evidence and arguments to the at-fault party’s legal team and insurance company to show them what they’ll be facing at trial. In many cases, the evidence is strong enough to show the insurance company that they do not have a shot at trial, and it can help drive up the settlement. In many cases, the defendant’s legal team will not think twice about making low-ball offers to save themselves money at the beginning, only moving up to higher offers after you refuse the cheap initial offers.
Getting Additional Damages at a Personal Injury Trial in Arkansas
If you are unhappy with the settlement offers the defendant makes you, you usually have the right to end negotiations and handle your case through the courts instead. In most cases, your lawyer will recommend fighting the case on both fronts by filing your case in court and proceeding with settlement negotiations on the side. In many cases, judges will push the parties to settle instead of taking the case through trial – but if negotiations do not result in a fair settlement, you can try for additional damages at trial.
In a personal injury trial, you will present your claim for damages to the judge and jury. In most cases, your lawyer will aim high, maximizing the damages you claim with the most generous valuation and projection of future costs. In the end, the jury will decide how much you deserve, using your calculation as a guideline. In some cases, the jury might award lower damages for pain and suffering or cut out certain areas of damages they don’t see as being related to the accident.
Ultimately, if your evidence is strong, the court will be able to award you full damages. If you can prove that it is more likely than not that your injury claim is true and that you did suffer all the damages you say you did, then the court will have no reason to award you any less than you asked for. In some cases, you can also get your court fees paid, which ultimately means that a trial could pay more than what the insurance company offers. However, there is always a risk that the jury will rule against you, so you should always work with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the decisions you have to make.
Call Our Fayetteville, AR Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one was injured in a serious accident in Arkansas, our personal injury lawyer might be able to help. Injury claims often involve low settlement offers, settlement negotiations, and potential trials. Navigating these cases can be simplified with help from an experienced attorney. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has over 20 years of experience helping injured accident victims and their families. For a free legal consultation on your case, call us today at (479) 316-0438.
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