Almost always, the answer is no. There are several reasons why, but the most compelling might be this – the minute you cash that check, and it clears, that may settle the case. Never can you go back to the at-fault driver or their insurance company and try to pursue them for more money.
Call us right away at 1-800-747-3733 if you receive a check from the other driver or their insurance company. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can advise you if the amount is fair.
The following reasons explain why it is almost always a bad idea to accept a check from the at-fault driver or their insurance company after a car accident:
Your Claim Might Entitle You to More Compensation
Think about this from a logical perspective. If you owed somebody money and decided to reach out with an offer to pay, would you immediately offer up the full amount, or might you consider first seeing if they will accept a lower amount?
If you are a businessperson, you would probably reach out with the lower amount first. Insurance companies are businesses, and their reason for existing is to make a profit. One way they do this is by keeping expenses as low as possible. And an effective way to keep costs down is to pay less than they have to on claims whenever possible.
So, you can assume when you receive an insurance settlement offer that it does not include the full amount you deserve. Rather than leaving money on the table by accepting it, consult with a lawyer about your options, and have your attorney negotiate for more money on your behalf.
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You Might Not Know the Extent of Your Injuries or the Amount of Your Future Bills
If you sustained injuries in the car accident, you might need ongoing treatment, the costs of which you may be eligible to recover from the at-fault party. An early settlement check from the at-fault driver or their insurance company will not take into account your future medical costs.
If you have not consulted with an attorney, you might not even have an estimate for the cost of those bills. Rather than accepting a check without further investigation, work with a lawyer to calculate the amount you can reasonably expect to occur in medical expenses. This gives you a good starting point when negotiating for more money.
There Might Be Additional Damages You Can Recover
Car accident victims often focus on their medical expenses and repair bills, but those are not the only damages for which you might be eligible to receive compensation.
Other damages include lost wages, reduced future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and punitive damages if evidence exists of reckless or malicious behavior by the at-fault driver. You also may be able to claim the following damages:
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Scarring and/or disfigurement
- Loss of life enjoyment
But the insurance company or at-fault driver’s initial settlement offer is not likely to include such damages. Thus, wait to accept any checks or payment until you have consulted with a lawyer and are aware of the full scope of your claim.
Other Things to Consider Before Accepting a Check From the At-Fault Driver or Their Insurer
If you are thinking about accepting the insurer’s check, you may want to consider the following:
- Do you know the full cost of your economic and non-economic losses?
- Have you considered how much you will need to cover your medical expenses (current and ongoing) and any property damage?
- Do you feel the financial offer is fair and meets your needs?
- Have you read all the fine print on the agreement for the settlement amount?
- Do you understand the agreed-upon terms and language in the release agreement before you sign the settlement check?
- Are you comfortable with the settlement offer?
How We Can Help You Assess Your Damages
An attorney can review your economic and non-economic damages to determine the extent of your losses and how you should be compensated for them. Economic damages are those that come with a fixed dollar amount that we can prove with documents, such as receipts and invoices. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, do not have a fixed dollar amount and are challenging to measure.
We Can Put a Dollar Value on Your Non-Financial Damages
Attorneys have various methods of determining the value of non-economic damages. If you work with our legal team, we will look at how the accident and your injuries have affected your quality of life and consider other factors to determine how much you should request from the at-fault party.
Knowing how much compensation you could ask for can inform your decision on whether you should accept a check from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
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What If I Have Already Received a Check?
If you gave your verbal consent to accept a settlement offer and a check is on the way, or you have it in your possession, DO NOT CASH IT!
The minute you cash it, that act may settle the case. It then becomes difficult to ever get any more money from the at-fault party or the insurance company. However, as long as you have not cashed the check, your attorney can send it back along with a letter stating that you do not wish to settle your claim without further investigation and discussion.
Keep the Lawsuit Filing Deadline for Injury Cases in Mind
Whether you have or haven’t cashed the at-fault party’s check, you must consider your state’s statute of limitations deadline for injury claims. If you have decided to accept the check, you must do so in writing before the deadline runs out. If you miss this deadline, the check may be no good, and you will lose your compensation.
Also, if you have signed an agreement but there is a delay in the final paperwork, you should keep close tabs on that and settle the matter. You may consider hiring an attorney to help move that process along before the statute of limitations deadline expires.
What to Do If You Haven’t Signed the Check
If you haven’t cashed the check from the insurer, you may still have time to negotiate with the insurer or file an injury lawsuit if you both disagree on the settlement amount. If you choose the latter, you must keep an eye on the calendar because you have only a certain amount of time to sue the at-fault party for damages.
An attorney can review the details of your situation and advise you of the timetable you have.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation
Before you cash that check, call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine at 1-800-747-3733. We are happy to evaluate your case and help you determine the best course of action. We can get started on your case as soon as possible. We work on contingency, so you don’t have to pay us any fees to start. This means we can begin as soon as we work on the details of our arrangement. We receive our payment only if we recover money for you.
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