An accident is a sudden and traumatic experience. While most accidents result in minor injuries, sometimes the injuries are severe. The negligent driver should pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages if you are injured in an accident. You should not have to pay those expenses out of your own pocket. Following an accident, the insurance company may contact you to take a statement and to get medical information about your treatment. During this unsettling and confusing time, it is best to talk to an experienced Houston car accident attorney before you agree to accept a settlement from the insurance company.
There are two main potential damages in an accident case, including compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are also sometimes called actual damages. These include such things as medical expenses, medications, and rehabilitative therapy costs, future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are only available when the party responsible for the accident was grossly negligent. Negligence simply means that the person knew, or should have known, that their actions could cause harm to another person. Punitive damages punish a person for doing something really dangerous, like driving drunk.
Often, the insurance company will contact you rather quickly to offer you a settlement. They know that you likely need funds to pay your bills, and therefore you are more apt to accept any offer. Unfortunately, the first offer from the insurance company will probably be too low. Sometimes, it will not even be enough to compensate you for your medical treatment, let alone anything else.
Also, if you accept a settlement, you are waiving your right to seek legal action to obtain further compensation. Although you may be inclined to take the check, it is often in your best interest to wait so you can make sure that the settlement is fair. Know that you should not take a settlement payment until your treatment is complete or when documentation details your future medical needs.
A recent case proves inciteful, there the car wreck victim orally agreed to accept a settlement but did not cash the check. Still, a court held that the case was settled. Read about that case here.
Don’t consider agreeing to a settlement when the insurer “estimates” for future medical before you are certain of your injuries. If you do settle and then find out you are hurt worse than you thought, or the medical expenses are more- too bad. Guess what, you lose!
Consult with a Houston car accident attorney as soon after the injury as possible. Your attorney will review the facts and will handle the legal issues on your behalf. Your lawyer will negotiate a settlement with the insurance company to cover your actual damages and take into consideration any future treatment you might need. You also may also get money if you are temporarily or permanently disabled and unable to return to work quickly. The insurance company’s first offer may not consider the many unique aspects of your injury and instead may only provide a standard settlement option according to the insurance company guidelines.
If you or a loved one were hurt in an accident, we could help. Call Baumgartner Law Firm today for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case. Call 281-587-1111!