If you were injured in a car accident that was someone else's fault, recovering financial compensation will most likely involve dealing with that person's insurance company. Filing an insurance claim is an important step in the recovery process; and, when you handle the process correctly, you can recover the financial compensation you deserve.
But, this is easier said than done. The insurance claims process is complicated, and the insurance companies have a financial incentive to get away with paying you as little as they can. As a result, you need to do what is necessary to protect yourself, and this includes deciding when is the right time to settle your claim.
5 Questions to Answer Before You Accept a Car Accident Insurance Settlement
How do you know when it is time to accept a settlement? How do you know if you should not settle—and instead take your claim to court? These are not easy questions to answer, and making an informed decision requires a thorough examination of the particular facts and circumstances of each individual accident victim's case.
With this in mind, here are five additional questions that accident victims should answer before deciding to accept (or reject) a car accident settlement offer in Alaska:
1. Do You Have All of the Evidence that is Available?
There are two main reasons why an insurance company can legitimately refuse to settle a claim for what it is worth: (i) the victim has not presented adequate evidence of liability, or (ii) the victim has not adequately proven his or her losses. With regard to liability, while the insurance company is obligated to conduct an investigation, it is ultimately up to the claimant to prove his or her right to compensation.
This means that, before you settle, you need to be confident that you have effectively presented all of the evidence that is available. If you haven't, the insurance company may be offering a low-dollar settlement in an effort to close your claim quickly, or it may be basing its calculation on an assumption that you were partially at fault in the collision. Either way, there is likely more on the table, and presenting additional evidence of liability could lead to a higher settlement.
2. Do You Have a Comprehensive Understanding of Your Long-Term Medical Needs?
If you are entitled to compensation, this means that you are entitled to compensation for your current and future losses. So, before you settle, it is absolutely imperative that you have a comprehensive understanding of your long-term medical needs. As you are undoubtedly well aware, medical care for traumatic injuries can be extraordinarily expensive. If you settle before you know the future medical costs you are likely to incur, you could be risking tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in medical coverage.
3. Have You Calculated Your Lost Earnings and Lost Future Earning Potential?
Just as you are entitled to coverage for your current and future medical expenses, you are also entitled to coverage for your current and future loss of income. While calculating your lost earnings through the date of your settlement should be fairly straightforward, there are still some complexities involved (i.e. calculating the value of lost benefits), and you need to make sure your calculation is precise. Calculating your lost future earning potential is far more complicated and involves working with medical and financial experts to assess the long-term physical and financial impacts of your injuries.
4. How Much Do You Deserve for Your Pain and Suffering?
In Alaska, car accident victims are entitled to just compensation for their pain and suffering, and placing a dollar value on these “non-economic” losses requires a thorough understanding of state law. Additionally, convincing an insurance company to award compensation for pain and suffering requires the ability to develop and present clear documentation that would be admissible as evidence in court.
Generally speaking, compensation for pain and suffering is calculated based on a multiple of the victim's “economic” losses. This means that it could very likely represent the single greatest portion of your claim. If this is not reflected in the insurance company's settlement offer, then it is possible that a much larger settlement is available.
5. Is the Insurance Company Treating You Fairly?
Finally, before you accept a settlement it is important to ask, “Is the insurance company treating you fairly?” If you have any reason to suspect that this may not be the case, then you should be extremely wary of accepting a settlement offer. Unfortunately, many insurance companies handle accident victims' claims in bad faith, and this is a reality that you need to consider when deciding whether you are prepared to resolve your claim and try to move on with your life.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Protecting Your Legal Rights After a Car Accident in Alaska?
When seeking to recover your losses after a car accident, the more you know, the better. This is why it is extremely important to work with an experienced accident lawyer in Anchorage, AK who can advise and represent you every step of the way. If you have been seriously injured in a collision, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation, and we encourage you to read the following articles to learn more about your situation:
- What Should You Do After a Car Accident in Alaska?
- What Are the Car Accident Laws in Alaska?
- What Types of Compensation Can I Recover After an Accident in Alaska?
- Injured in Alaska? Don't Make These Mistakes
- 6 Myths about Personal Injury Cases in Alaska
Discuss Your Insurance Claim with Anchorage, AK Car Accident Lawyer Eric Derleth
Have you been seriously injured in a car accident in Anchorage or Soldotna, AK? If so, we strongly encourage you to contact us before you start dealing with the insurance companies. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Anchorage personal injury attorney Eric Derleth, call us at 907-262-9164 today.