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Do I have to take the first settlement I’m offered after a crash?

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2023 | Car Accidents

If you are injured in a car crash, you will likely be offered a settlement from the at-fault party or their insurer. While it might be tempting to simply take the settlement and put the matter behind you, you might want to consider whether that settlement is enough to cover your damages. If not, you can take steps to obtain a more appropriate settlement that will cover all of your losses.

Virginia car insurance laws and settlement offers

Virginia is a fault-based state when it comes to calculating a settlement offer. In fault-based states like Virginia, an auto insurer is responsible for covering the other party’s damages following a crash when the insured is the party at fault for the collision. They do so by issuing a settlement offer to the injured party.

What if you do not like the settlement offer?

A settlement offer may seem fair on its face, but often, insurers will offer a lowball settlement to protect their own financial interests. Moreover, the initial settlement offer may be made before all of the damage is ascertained.

For example, you may not have fully recovered from your injuries when the initial offer is made. If so, you will want to consider the time it will take for you to become whole again, including future medical costs and lost wages.

If you do not like the initial settlement offer, you can reject it and propose a counteroffer. Your counteroffer can be based on your version of the facts surrounding the crash, the costs of your medical care so far, how long it will take to fully restore your health and how the injuries you suffered are affecting your daily life.

The insurer might respond to your proposal with a higher settlement offer. But the insurer has the right to reject your counteroffer or even offer a lesser amount than the initial settlement. If settlement negotiations fail, you might consider filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover the losses you suffered in the car crash.