Refuse a Settlement Offer

After an accident, you could recover compensation to pay for your injuries and losses. Many cases settle instead of going to trial. However, you can refuse a settlement offer if the insurance company offers a less-than-fair and reasonable settlement.

In fact, you should refuse a settlement offer that is too low as it may not cover all of your medical expenses. Once you accept an offer, you cannot go back for more money. Personal injury lawyers can help you decide whether to accept or refuse a settlement offer. They can work with professionals to determine a fair amount for your injuries and other losses.

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Working With Insurance Companies

Refuse a Settlement Offer

In most cases, the first step in recovering the compensation you deserve is to negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company. However, it rarely goes smoothly, especially if you try it alone.

Insurance companies are in business to make money. Every claim they pay out means less money in their pockets. Thus, they will find any reason to deny your claim or, at the very least, offer you a pittance that probably won’t cover your medical expenses, never mind other losses such as pain and suffering.

They know the average person doesn’t understand all their rights and the laws protecting them, so they often violate those rights.

Insurance companies hate when you retain a personal injury lawyer because it makes it much harder for them to get away with their tricks, including:

  • Twisting what you say to put the blame for your injuries on you instead of the defendant.
  • Delaying processing your claim to miss insurance or state law deadlines, including the state’s statute of limitations.
  • Ghosting you.
  • Telling you that their client is at fault and stating that they can only pay a certain amount, which is very low. This is almost always a lie.
  • Not investigating the case.

This is just a partial list of the actions and/or inactions insurance companies take when trying to get out of paying a claim. When you retain a personal injury attorney, the insurance companies are less likely to pull these stunts.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Helps During Negotiations

A personal injury lawyer can investigate your case and review evidence, including your medical records, witness statements, and police report. After the investigation into the case, the next step is to draft a demand letter to the insurance company or defendant if the defendant doesn’t have insurance.

The demand letter states the facts of the case, including the defendant’s negligent actions and/or inactions and your injuries and losses. It also includes an amount you and your attorney feel is fair and reasonable, plus a response-by date.

The insurance company or defendant can take one of four actions:

  • Outright deny the claim.
  • Ignore the demand letter.
  • Make a counteroffer.
  • Accept your initial demand.

You can take your case to court if the insurance company denies the claim or ignores the demand letter. If the insurance company makes a counteroffer, you can accept or decline the counteroffer. If you decline it, you can counter the insurance company’s counter. If you decide to decline it, your case will most likely go to court.

Finally, the insurance company can accept your initial demand. However, that is rare since the insurance company wants to pay as little as possible.

Your personal injury lawyer can help you make these decisions.

When Settlement Negotiations Fail

If you refuse a settlement offer, your personal injury attorney can help you prepare for trial. The attorney often does a deeper investigation into your case and may depose the defendant and witnesses, use forensic accident reconstructionists, call in medical experts, and more.

If your doctors believe that your accident injuries will result in long-term or permanent disabilities, your attorney may have you set up an appointment with a medical expert or have the expert review your existing medical records.

But Aren’t Trials Expensive?

Yes. However, most personal injury attorneys handle cases on a contingency basis. That means you only pay if you win, whether you settle or go to trial. If you win, the defendant usually has to pay attorney’s fees and costs—they are part of your trial award.

If I Refuse a Settlement Offer, How Do I Pay Medical Expenses?

You can use your health and auto insurance—if you were in a car accident—to pay for medical expenses. Your attorney can also write a “letter of credit,” requesting that medical professionals hold off on collecting out-of-pocket expenses until you win a settlement or trial award.

Sometimes, personal injury attorneys can recommend doctors and other medical professionals who will work with you while waiting for settlement negotiations or a trial to end. If you are having trouble paying bills and keeping food on the table, always discuss the issue with your accident attorney, as the attorney may be able to help you keep medical creditors at bay.

The Steps of Litigating a Personal Injury Case

Should you decide to litigate—take your case to court—you’ll have to file a complaint.

The steps to the litigation process include:

  • File a complaint with the clerk of court.
  • File and issue the summons.
  • Have a process server serve the summons on any defendants involved in the case.

Once served, the defendants have a certain number of days to file responsive pleadings. Responsive pleadings include but are not limited to an answer and counterclaim (usually filed simultaneously) or a motion to dismiss the case. If the defendant files a motion to dismiss, the court has to rule on the motion before you can go forward. The court could dismiss the case, deny the defendant’s motion, or ask you to file an amended complaint.

After the defendant files an answer, the discovery process starts. Both parties must exchange the evidence they have. Part of the discovery process includes interrogatories, which are written questions sworn to by the person answering, requests for admissions, disclosure requests, and depositions.

At any time during the discovery process, your attorney or the defendant could file motions. For example, if you send interrogatories and the defendant does not return them within the allocated time and keeps delaying, your attorney might file a motion to compel them.

At the end of discovery, if either attorney has motions that the court hasn’t ruled on, they can set them for hearing, have them heard at the pre-trial hearing, or withdraw the motion.

At the pre-trial hearing, the court sets the schedule for any outstanding discovery and instructs the attorneys to file a witness list and other requirements for the trial. The court also sets the trial date(s). The attorneys usually agree on the amount of time they believe the trial will take, including the time for jury selection. It could be anywhere from a half-day to several days.

During the Trial

Once the trial starts, your attorney may call expert witnesses to testify as to the extent of your injuries, especially if your doctors believe that the accident injuries will result in long-term or permanent disabilities. Depending on the circumstances, the attorney may also call in a forensic accident reconstruction expert and other experts.

Whether you testify on your behalf depends on the trial strategy you and your attorney agree on. If you testify, both attorneys can ask you questions about the accident.

Accident Injuries

Depending on the type of accident, you could have several types of injuries, including:

  • Bumps, bruises, scratches, cuts, scrapes, and punctures.
  • Strains and sprains.
  • Pulled and torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries.
  • Crushed bones and other crush injuries.
  • Simple and compound fractures.
  • Internal injuries.
  • Face and eye injuries.
  • Traumatic brain injuries.
  • Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
  • Ear injuries, including deafness, especially if the accident or incident involved an explosion.
  • Chemical and thermal burns.
  • Road rash.
  • Amputation of a digit or limb.
  • Back and spinal cord injuries.
  • Lung injuries if you breathe in smoke and/or chemicals.

The defendant could also be responsible for secondary injuries, such as infections. Open wounds often become infected, especially if you have a compromised immune system. Even if the open wound is a surgical wound to repair an accident injury, the defendant is responsible for those medical expenses and other damages related to the infection.

Additionally, if your accident injuries exacerbated an existing illness or injury, the defendant is responsible for the extra medical attention and other damages related to the illness or injury.

Damages the Court Could Order

Most states allow you to recover compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages have two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value. Most people injured in an accident or incident recover economic damages, including:

  • Medical expenses, including but not limited to doctors’ appointments, surgeries, follow-up appointments, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and equipment, and ambulatory aids.
  • Physical therapy appointments.
  • Occupational therapy appointments.
  • Psychological therapy appointments.
  • Cognitive therapy appointments.
  • Home health care.
  • Nursing home and/or rehabilitative home care expenses.
  • Accessibility aids for your home, including but not limited to wheelchair ramps, handrails, widened doorways, and grab bars.
  • Accessibility aids for your vehicle, including wheelchair lifts and ramps and hand controls.
  • Lost income.
  • Loss of future earning capacity. You could still collect a loss of partial future earning capacity if you can work part-time or your injuries force you to take a position that pays less than your previous position.
  • Personal property. In some types of accident cases, such as car accidents, you can recover compensation for replacing or repairing destroyed or damaged personal property, such as your vehicle or anything of value in the vehicle.
  • Death-related expenses, including funeral expenses, burial expenses, cremation expenses, certain probate court fees, and probate attorney’s fees and costs.

Non-Economic Damages

Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a monetary value. Most people who recover non-economic damages lost a loved one or suffered long-term or permanent injuries in an accident or incident. While insurance companies may have their own definition of long-term or permanent injuries, the Social Security Administration defines them as resulting in death or lasting longer than 12 months.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
  • Loss of quality of life if you have to make lifelong changes, such as taking prescriptions or using ambulatory aids.
  • Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy time with your family or attend family activities and events.
  • Loss of consortium if you can no longer enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse.
  • Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight or hearing.
  • Loss of use of a body part, such as a finger or a foot.
  • Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, including but not limited to house cleaning, lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, and home maintenance and repairs.
  • Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
  • Amputation of a digit or limb.

Punitive Damages

Adam J Zayed - Truck Accident Lawyer near Chicago, IL area
Adam Zayed, Personal Injury Lawyer in Chicago

Most states that allow you to recover punitive damages have several rules that make obtaining them more difficult. Unlike compensatory damages that the court orders in an attempt to make you whole again, the court orders the defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional actions or inactions.

Most states also require you to recover compensatory damages to recover punitive damages; thus, you must have a bifurcated trial (a two-part trial) During the first part, the jury decides if you should recover compensatory damages. If so, the same judge and jury hear the punitive damages part of the case.

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer for your free case evaluation.

Contact the Chicago Personal Injury Law Firm of Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys for Help Today

For more information, please contact the experienced Chicago personal injury lawyers at Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys today. We offer free consultations.

We proudly serve Cook County, Will County, Kendall County, and its surrounding areas:

Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys – Chicago Office
10 S La Salle St STE 1230, Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 726-1616

Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys – Joliet Office
195 Springfield Ave, Joliet, IL 60435
(815) 726-1616