You’ve been in a car accident. You know it’s not your fault. In fact, you might even have proof that the other driver is at fault. You’re just getting your life put back together and suddenly you get a phone call – the insurance company, or maybe even the other driver, doesn’t want to drag this out. They want to settle the matter as quickly as they can, and they promise a check will be in your hands soon. The question you must ask yourself, then, is whether you should accept that check. As you might imagine, the answer to that question isn’t a simple yes or no.
Why Settlements are Offered
Settlements are offered for a number of reasons. By far the most common is that settlements are quick. They allow a matter to be resolved with a minimum of fuss and don’t require the insurance company or other driver to pay a lawyer. These settlements keep costs down for everyone and help people move on from the incident.
Settlements also occur because they can keep the problems out of the public eye. While what happens in court is always public, what happens in a settlement is almost always private. The other party might have a very good reason to try to keep his or her name out of the papers, and thus will push to make sure that the entire problem goes away without getting any extra attention.
Why You Might Accept
There are many good reasons to accept a settlement. Perhaps the most common is the fact that it gets you money quickly. A settlement check will help you to pay your bills and allow you to get back to your regular life. In many cases, people accept settlement checks simply because they cover what needs to be covered.
There are others, though, that accept settlements because they aren’t sure they can win at court. There might be issues that would make the jury find in favor of the other driver, so they want to get what money they can. These drivers might also want the same kind of privacy the other party would enjoy with a settlement. There is something to be said for not being dragged through the court system, especially if you want to keep some semblance of privacy .
Why You Might Not Accept
Settlements can be good, but they aren’t for everyone. Many people reject settlements outright because they won’t cover what needs to be covered. A common reason to reject a car accident settlement might, for example, be because the offered money wouldn’t cover the cost of car repairs. Many people also refuse settlement checks because they know they can get more from a jury. They view the settlement not as an offer to make things right, but an attempt from the other side to cut their losses.
There are also many people for whom money is not a motivating factor. They might have sought out an NY personal injury attorney because they are more concerned with making sure the other party is punished. They may also want to make sure a company is held liable for a particular accident to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Settlements can be good, but they certainly don’t generate precedent.
The good news about settlements is that they aren’t mandatory. There are no legal consequences for rejecting a settlement. While the other side might try to bully you, there’s nothing that says you have to take their first offer. In fact, rejecting an initial settlement offer may often help you to get a more realistic offer in the future.
What rejecting the offer does do, though, is put you on the path to going towards court. You will absolutely need an NY personal injury attorney if you are not going to take a settlement, especially since you’ll need someone to present your case to the jury. There’s no guarantee you’ll win even if you think the evidence is on your side, so rejecting a settlement offer may leave you with nothing. In reality, that’s perhaps the worst consequence of rejecting an offer.
You don’t have to take a settlement offer from the other driver or the other insurance company. Whether it’s a good idea to take the offer really depends on your own circumstances. If you’re not sure what to do, your lawyer might be able to better outline your choices.