Many factors go into determining what a “fair” settlement is for a given case. The nature and extent of the injuries, the type, frequency, consistency and duration of medical treatment, whether there is full resolution of the injuries, the amount of total “special damages” (medical bills, lost wages, etc), whether there is any scarring or disfigurement, and the pain, inconvenience, and other non-economic damages are some of the many factors considered in a settlement evaluation.
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There is no set formula to determine a “fair” settlement. Meticulous preparation of the file, avoiding mistakes, assertive advocacy, and knowledge of the claims process are all important components of making sure that you are treated fairly.
Since it is impossible to know how quickly you will recover from your injuries and how much medical care will be required, it is impossible to anticipate the amount of a likely settlement until you have recovered from your injuries or at least reached maximum medical improvement.
It is important to know that you only get one chance to settle the injury portion of an automobile accident case. Once you sign a legal release, you cannot reopen your case later – even if you go back to treatment, need surgery, or miss more time from work. It is therefore crucial that your case is handled correctly the first time and that you do not rush into a premature settlement.
The goal of a liability insurance carrier is to settle claims for as little money as possible. Adjusters are trained to judge what their potential exposure is in a given case in order to set a “reserve”, which usually involves predicting what a judge or jury might award if the case went to trial.
We emphasize the full extent of the insurance company’s exposure to the adjuster. Many adjusters know that if they are not fair to our clients, we will not hesitate to file a legal action – and this often helps in the resolution of cases without the necessity of a lawsuit.