Personal injury: Should I take the settlement?

The other driver's insurance company is offering me a settlement

I was injured in a car accident this winter when another car slid through an intersection and broadsided me. I suffered whiplash in my neck. The insurance company is offering me a $20,000 settlement, and I could really use the money right now. Is there any harm in taking it?

Don't be too quick to settle your injury claims

Attorney Joe Veenstra does not necessarily recommend a quick settlement because more problems may develop in the weeks and months following the crash. Taking that flat $20,000 settlement normally would release the insurance company from further responsibility for other costs deriving from the accident.

“You don’t want to release them from liability without realizing who you might have to pay out of the settlement proceeds.  For example, your health insurer might have a right to be reimbursed out of the proceeds.” Veenstra said. “Also, it can also take some time to know if a soft tissue injury is going to resolve.  It may take more time to determine if there is a permanent injury.”

His advice is to first figure out who is responsible for the accident and for the bills that might arise from it. Is it your insurance company or theirs? Is another party/entity paying the bills, for example, Medicare?  Are you at risk of being sued? Your insurance company is responsible for representing you if you are sued. But if you feel you are not getting appropriate support, you can hire your own lawyer.

Veenstra’s other advice includes being careful about statements made about the accident. “You are not obligated to talk to the adjustor for the other company,” he said, adding, “You might say things that seem like innocent statements; however, they could be taken as admissions of liability, like, for example, ‘I’m sorry about the accident.’”

Consulting with a personal injury lawyer is your safest bet

In many instances, it is not clear who is responsible for the accident. That is a reason to see a lawyer. “It’s important to talk to a lawyer to get evidence secured. That may be a video from a business surveillance camera that shows the accident. That video could be erased if you don’t promptly ask to save it,” Veenstra said.

Personal injury: should I take the settlement?Joe Veenstra is an attorney at Johns, Flaherty & Collins. For a personal injury lawyer in La Crosse WI, call Joe at 608-784-5678.


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