When you file a car accident claim or try to seek damages from the at-fault driver, they might offer a settlement. Car accident settlements can be good for both sides because they end the case faster and get you the compensation you need up front. But if the insurance settlement you were offered is too low to cover your needs, then you should speak with a lawyer and learn more about how you might be able to try your case in court or renegotiate a settlement instead of accepting a low offer. Our Fayetteville car accident lawyer, Ken Kieklak, explains.
How Do You Know if an Arkansas Car Accident Settlement Offer Too Low?
Many settlement offers are going to be lower than the compensation you would receive in court. Most insurance policies do not cover pain and suffering damages and might cover other harms – like medical bills and lost wages – at only a percentage of their full value. That means that any offer coming from an insurance company is probably going to be lower than you might expect. Additionally, since settlements save both sides from the time and expense of trial, that often means the settlement is sort of discounted as well.
However, that doesn’t mean that all settlement offers are bad. In many cases, settlement is going to be the best way to ultimately get you damages for your car accident injuries, and nearly all injury cases do end in settlements. To figure out whether a settlement offer is too low, you’ll have to calculate the damages in your case or have a lawyer do it for you.
Our experienced Fayetteville personal injury lawyer can help you calculate the damages you faced, accounting for many areas of financial harm that you might not have considered. This could include damages for medical bills – both current and future. It could also include damages for income you will lose in the future if your injuries keep you from being able to work at your old job or force you to take a reduced income. You can also get compensation for physical pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, and other intangible harms.
Talk to a lawyer before accepting any settlement offers. It is important to get help understanding whether the settlement offer is too low and to protect yourself by knowing how much your case should really be worth.
How to Increase a Settlement Offer for an Arkansas Car Accident Case
If the insurance company or the at-fault driver has been low-balling you with settlement offers that won’t cover your needs, you should get a lawyer. An Arkansas car accident attorney can take multiple steps to help increase the settlement you could receive or, if the insurance company refuses to budge, your car accident lawyer can take your case to court and fight for damages before a jury.
Half of a lawyer’s job is negotiating with the other side to try to resolve the case without going to trial. But there is no reason to settle the case if your client isn’t getting the damages they need. That means that negotiations will often focus on driving up the insurance company’s settlement offer until it covers everything you need.
One tool to help put teeth behind the settlement negotiations is the looming threat of having the case go to trial. Insurance companies know this can be expensive, and they know that if the victim wins, they might be forced to pay legal fees and court costs for the victim. In many cases, your attorney will file a lawsuit with the court and work to progress that case while simultaneously negotiating a settlement.
This helps in a few ways. First, there is the ultimate deadline of your trial date; if the case isn’t settled by then, then the insurance company will have to defend the case in court and perhaps pay more in damages. Second, the “discovery” phase of your case allows you to collect evidence and depositions from witnesses and the victim, which can help strengthen your case and make it harder for the insurance company to avoid damages. Third, as the case progresses through the court, the judge might suggest mediation or try to broker negotiations, helping to put pressure on the defendant to settle instead of taking the case to trial.
When you work with a car accident lawyer, the attorney can use evidence to build a strong case. The stronger your argument is, the harder it will be for the defendant and their insurance company to deny fault. If the evidence is overwhelming and the defendant knows they will lose at trial, they will be more likely to cave and settle. If they refuse, we can always fight your case at trial and work to get you the damages you deserve from the jury.
Should I Accept a Settlement for a Car Accident in Arkansas?
The decision to accept or reject a settlement lies with the victim, not their lawyer. Your Arkansas personal injury lawyer can help guide you by showing you what your case should be worth and comparing that with your settlement offers. In many cases, it is better to hold out and fight the case at trial, and then only settle if the defense offers you a fair sum. In other cases, you might have immediate expenses that need to be covered as soon as possible, and you might want to settle sooner. Our attorney can help guide you through the decision on a case-by-case basis.
Call Our Fayetteville Car Accident Lawyer for Help with Your Case
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in Arkansas, our Fayetteville personal injury lawyer might be able to help. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, handles injury cases throughout the Fayetteville area and across Arkansas on behalf of injury victims and their families. For a free consultation on your potential case, call us today to learn more about how to negotiate for a better settlement and how resolving the case in court might open your access to higher damages. For a free case consultation, call us today at (479) 316-0438.