If an Insurance Company Offers Me a Check Right Away, Should I Take It?
It’s important to report a crash to your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company. New York is one of a handful of states that use a no-fault insurance system. That is, your insurance should pay for your medical bills and other damages regardless of who is at fault for the crash. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always jump at the chance to hold up their end of the bargain.
One of the ways that the insurance company may try to get away with paying you less than you deserve is to send you a small settlement check. They’re hoping that you accept this check, and that you agree to resolve the case without any future payments. Most of the time, this check comes with what’s called a release. If you sign it, you agree to release any future claims that you may have against the insurance company for payment.
This can be a costly mistake. If you accept the check and sign a release before you speak to an personal injury attorney, the amount of the check may not even begin to cover your losses. You may have a claim for losses that you might not have thought about. You may have medical bills and ongoing treatment needs in the future that you may not even know about yet. When the insurance company tries to get away with quickly sending you a check, they’ve likely thought it through, and they’re trying to get themselves a good deal.
Evaluating your claim
Putting a dollar figure on your losses takes time and effort. Often, this isn’t easy to do. There are many different things that can impact the ultimate value of your claim. Your current medical bills are often only a small part of the value of your claim. Your claim may also include psychiatric care for distress that you have because of the crash. If you need rehabilitation or physical therapy, these are expenses that should be covered too.
You can also receive payments from your insurance company for loss of earnings from work. There are monthly limits to what you can recover in a first-party insurance claim in New York for lost earnings. However, this is a significant option for recovery that your insurance company may try to exclude in their first settlement check.
If you’re bringing a case against the opposing party and their insurance company for a serious bodily injury, there are even more types of recovery that you can pursue. It’s important not to make assumptions about your recovery potential until you speak to an personal injury lawyer. Every dollar that the insurance company can avoid paying you is a dollar in their pocket.
How an attorney can evaluate your case
An personal injury attorney has years of experience working on cases like yours. They can look at the basics of a case and make a determination as to what an appropriate recovery should be. Your attorney can help you determine if it’s best to accept a settlement check, or if they should help you pursue a larger amount. They can evaluate your case in order to determine if you have grounds to go outside of New York’s no-fault system and bring a claim against the party that caused you a serious or permanent injury.
It’s important to work with an attorney that can help you advance your case. Attorneys know court rules, and they know how to prepare court documents. However, when you hire a lawyer, one of the best things they’re able to offer you is guidance.
Your attorney has likely handled dozens if not hundreds of cases that are similar to yours. They’ve crunched numbers. They’ve talked with insurance companies. A history of negotiations, trials and settlement conferences have helped them hone their craft.
When the insurance company offers you a check, your attorney can give you advice. You can rely on their experience in order to make a sound decision. If the check is for a good amount, your attorney can explain why that’s the case. If it’s best for you to continue to pursue your claim, they can explain why that might be. Taking the time to speak with an attorney before you cash your check may ultimately result in a larger payment.