Every year in Pennsylvania, an average of one out of every 51 people are involved in a reportable car accident. If you’ve been in a car accident in Pennsylvania that was not your fault, you most likely have the chance to get compensation for injuries, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Personal injury lawsuits typically end in settlements that insurance companies pay to get the injured person to relinquish a legal claim. Think of a settlement as a contract signed by all parties involved in the car accident.
At the minimum, a car accident settlement agreement will generally state the amount of money one side will pay to the other, in addition to the rights the side getting paid gives up when they accept the money. There are some things, however, that most car accident victims don’t know about signing a settlement.
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1. Settlement Agreements Cover Claims You Didn’t Make
Arguably, the most important part of any settlement agreement, at least to the person paying you, is the release. The defendant, otherwise known as the at-fault party, will usually require a release that encompasses all legal claims. These claims include current and future ones that involve the car accident.
The release applies even if you didn’t assert or mention those claims against the defendant. If you could have sued the person for strict liability and negligence but only sued them for strict liability, you’re still giving up both those claims when you sign the agreement. You don’t get another chance to file claims once the ink on your settlement dries.
2. Settlement Agreements Are Binding and Final
The moment both parties sign the settlement, there’s no undoing it. Settlement agreements usually have very clear wording on the terms and how binding they are.
What does this mean? If you signed an agreement with an insurance company without having a personal injury lawyer helping you, you don’t have the chance to undo that settlement and try for a better one. This is why turning to lawyers as soon as you’re in a car accident is essential.
Never sign a settlement without having professionals at your side to help you. Even lawyers can’t undo most of these kinds of agreements.
3. Settlements Cover All Injuries Related to Your Accident
Car accident injuries can vary in severity. The most common ones are:
- Spinal injuries
Many of the injuries you may sustain can take time to make themselves known. That’s an issue when dealing with insurance companies that are pushing you to sign a settlement.
When you do sign one, you give up all legal claims, including those relating to injuries. If you sign the agreement thinking that you only had certain minor injuries and then you develop other conditions as a result of the accident, there’s nothing you can do.
You have to remember that the insurance company paying for damages only wants to pay you once. They won’t usually leave you any wiggle room in the agreement that allows you to claim new injuries later on. This is another reason why you always want to consult a personal injury lawyer before putting pen to paper.
4. Settlement Agreements Cover People You Didn’t Know You Could Sue
Some settlements also make sure that you don’t get the chance to sue other people involved in the accident at a later date. The settlement may list specific people who you may no longer have the right to sue if you sign. Usually, you will see the names written out, but it’s not always easy to spot this if you’re not experienced in dealing with settlement agreements.
In some instances, the settlement can just mention the name of the insurance companies that represent other people, which can be tricky to notice. This is a real concern in cases that are especially complex. By turning to car accident attorneys, you have a better chance of getting the compensation you deserve.
5. Settlement Offers From Insurance Companies Are Almost Always Better for Them Than for You
Insurance companies are looking out for their profits, not your best interests. The insurance adjuster assigned to your claim is looking to minimize or reduce their liability as much as they can.
When an insurance company offers you a settlement, it’s almost certainly for less than what your claim is actually worth. It can sometimes take many rounds of negotiation to reach an adequate agreement that accurately reflects your losses. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit so that you can obtain the compensation you need and deserve to move forward.
Hiring a lawyer can help you even the playing field with the insurance company. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf and won’t let the opposing party get away with a “lowball” settlement offer.
Why Relying On Help From a Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer May Be in Your Best Interest
Being in a car accident is a harrowing experience that can leave you with injuries, property damage, and trauma. Compensation is available to reimburse you for losses such as medical expenses, property repair costs, lost wages, and more. However, trying to get fair treatment from insurance companies on your own is not a good idea.
Insurance companies have one objective when handling personal injury cases: paying as little as they can get away with. Some may even try to get out of paying you at all by using a variety of tricks and threats.
When you turn to a car accident lawyer, you have the chance to get the support you need so that you can go on to obtain the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can represent your interests and fight for what’s fair. They will help you with settlements and offer guidance when the insurance company starts making threats.
When you turn to Marzzacco Niven & Associates, you can get experienced personal injury lawyers to help you. We’re here to answer questions and offer aid to anyone who’s been in a car accident in Pennsylvania and is considering filing a claim. Get started by contacting us for a free case review today.