You’ve been in an accident. You’ve dealt with pain, suffering, and missed work. You might have hospital bills piling up, and you’ve got to get on with your life. Just as you begin to start worrying, something miraculous happens – an insurance company representative contacts you, and he or she has a check with your name on it. The representative is very friendly, and he or she presents the offer as something that’s not just fair, but downright kind. What he or she isn’t so clear about, though, is this – you don’t have to take the offer. It’s up to you to make a decision, but it’s important to know the facts before you move forward.

The Insurance Company Doesn’t Work For You

Whether you’re dealing with your insurance company or that of the person who caused the accident, it’s important to remember that the insurance company is not primarily working for you. The insurance company’s primary goal is to make a profit – after all, it is a business and not a charity. No matter how hard the person with whom you speak tries to be friendly, you must remember that this is nothing more than a business transaction. Take a few moments to listen to what the representative says, but consider everything through the lens of a business transaction.

Insurance Companies Want to Pay Less

Because the check is part of a business plan, it only makes sense that the insurance company would go out of its way to pay you as little as possible. In some cases, the money offered is a token amount that is used to make problematic customers go away. In other circumstances, the check is offered to avoid any kind of litigation and minimize the losses for the insurance company. No matter what the circumstances, the money offered is calculated as a sum that makes the insurance company feel comfortable rather than one that will help you put your life back together.

You Don’t Have to Say Yes

When you are offered a settlement from the insurance company, there is every chance that the representative will couch the offer in terms of an absolute. He or she may make it seem like you have no choice but to take the check, or that failure to take the money now will preclude collection later. In truth, you have all the power in this situation. If you turn down the offer, you’ll need to work with an attorney. Doing so does not, however, mean you’ll go to court – it simply changes the nature of your interactions with the insurance company from that point forward.

Time Might Matter

While you’re likely to collect less if you say yes to the insurance company, it’s also true that saying no is going to greatly extend your timetable for getting restitution. If you have to go through negotiations with an attorney or even go to court, you could be looking at months or years. Depending on the severity of your injuries or losses, it may be worth your while to take a lesser sum in order to speed up to process. As with so many other legal situations, the right choice has more to do with your needs than with any kind of absolutes.

If an insurance company offers you a check, the first thing you should do is to consult an attorney. While you may end up taking the check in the end, it’s a good idea to explore your options. In some cases, taking the check is the smart thing to do. In others, taking the check will stop you from collecting what you are really owed. Your decision should be one that’s made with all the pertinent information available, and preferably be made with the help of an attorney. The offer of a check may be the first step in a process that will help you return some normalcy to your life.

Need legal help? Our Los Angeles car accident attorneys and Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are available to help whenever, and wherever, you need it.