If you are injured in an accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries if another party caused the injury. By law, when a person or party causes an injury because of negligence or a wrongful act, that party can be held liable for damages resulting from the injury. Examples of personal injury accidents that might give rise to an injury claim include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including truck, car, and motorcycle crashes
- Slip and fall claims (Premises Liability)
- Medical malpractice claims
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Dog bites or animal attacks
- Medical malpractice claims
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Product liability cases, including dangerous drugs and defective medical devices
If another party injures you, that party’s insurance company may contact you to offer a settlement for your claim. In many cases, the settlement offer is an attempt to get rid of your case as quickly as possible because the company knows that it is liable for your claim.
However, there are very good reasons why you do not want to accept a settlement offer without first discussing your case with an Erie personal injury attorney.
Reasons to Call an Attorney Instead of Signing a Settlement Agreement
The insurance adjuster does not work for you.
Regardless of what the insurance adjuster tells you, he does not work for you, and he is not working “with” you either. The adjuster works for the insurance provider. He protects the company’s best interest, and the company’s best interest is not in your best interest. An insurance company seeks to settle a claim for as little as possible, which is often under the true value of the claim. An adjuster offering an early settlement may be trying to underpay your claim before you consult an accident attorney.
You may not know the true value of your claim.
Without consulting with an attorney, you may not know that you can claim certain damages in a personal injury claim. For instance, you may not realize you can claim travel expenses to and from the doctor or the expense of paying someone to cut your grass. An adjuster will not tell you if you can claim other expenses or damages that will increase the value of your claim. You need an attorney to ensure you include all allowable expenses and damages in the value of your claim.
You could have injuries you are unaware of at this time.
Some injuries may not be immediately known after an accident. Settling your accident claim too early could result in additional medical bills and other expenses you will be liable for paying. It is never a good idea to settle a claim until your doctor has told you that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
MMI is the point at which further medical treatment will not improve your condition. In some cases, MMI will be a full recovery while in other cases it may include a permanent disability or impairment. Under Pennsylvania personal injury laws, you can receive compensation for permanent injuries and impairments.
You cannot reopen the case once you sign the settlement agreement.
The settlement agreement contains clauses that release the insurance company and all other parties from any future liability for the claim. In other words, if you discover you have an additional injury you did not know about or additional expenses, you are limited to the amount of money you received when you signed the settlement agreement.