It’s three days after your Virginia car crash and the insurance adjuster is calling to schedule an appointment to come to your house and write you a settlement check, how much money should you be asking for to settle your auto accident case?
It’s impossible to say. If you haven’t been hurt or you were checked out by a doctor and your injuries have resolved, a nominal amount might cover the inconvenience and small injury you sustained. On the other hand, if you are still injured or haven’t been to a doctor yet, it is very hard to tell what your case is worth.
Insurance companies use the high pressure tactic of coming to your house because they know that it makes you uncomfortable and that people who have been involved in car crashes and are beginning to incur medical bills are more likely to settle their case early on for a small amount of money if they can. So the insurance adjuster will come out and say something like “this is a minor crash and usually we’d only be able to offer you $250, but if you sign this document, I can pay your medical bills for the next 45 days up to $3,500.”
Let’s examine that offer to see whether it’s a fair deal.
Medical Bills in the Next 45 Days
The adjuster will tell you that “cases like yours” typically resolve within a certain amount of time. Or that, according to their doctors, soft tissue injuries or whiplash after a car crash should resolve in a certain number of weeks. They use that as justification to get you to sign a release limiting the amount that they have to pay for your medical bills.
What they don’t tell you is that every auto accident case is unique. Your injuries might not resolve within that amount of time. What if you need some treatment outside that window? What if you need a surgery outside that 45 day window? You would be in trouble if you signed the adjuster’s release.
Up to $3,500
Again, the insurance company is attempting to limit their exposure in your case by capping the amount that they’ll have to pay. How do you know whether your medical treatment will cost more or less than $3,500? Doctor visits, X-rays, and hospital fees can add up quickly.
Medical Bills Only
Did you miss the part of that release where they are only obligated to pay for your medical bills? This is contrary to Virginia law, which requires that they compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, and your pain, suffering and inconvenience after being hit by one of their drivers.
The Larger Picture
The message is that signing any release before your injuries have totally resolved is a bad idea. All you’re doing is limiting your ability to recover before you even know the full extent of your injuries. If you have already signed one of these releases, read this article on undoing your injury settlement immediately. There are very serious time limits that apply to your case if you have settled too early and are re-thinking the settlement.
If you find yourself with more questions, please contact us through the contact box on the right.