How many of you recall the television commercial with the man sitting at his kitchen table, knife in hand, speaking with the doctor on the phone who attempts to talk him thru conducting his own surgery?  Perplexed, the man exclaims “should you be doing this?”. Exactly, shouldn’t your attorney be handling your legal claim? After being injured in a car accident, there is a lot to consider. The primary concern should be health and recovery. This can involve a significant period of time for treatment and rehabilitation for any injuries. Due to treatment and rehabilitation, work may be missed or returning to work may even be impossible. Meanwhile, mortgage, rent and other financial obligations may pile up. Pain and suffering may also occur, as you are unable to live your life the way you did before the car accident. Considering all of these factors, you may struggle to try to decide how to handle your personal injury claim. 

Insurance Companies

Understand that the insurance company is not on your side, even your own insurance company. The primary concern of insurance companies is making money for their shareholders. They protect their own financial interests by only paying what they absolutely need to on claims. As a result, accident victims are routinely offered small cash payments in exchange for a full release of any liability. Often, these offers are made very quickly, sometimes within days of the accident. While insurance companies may seem friendly and willing to work with you, they are routinely unwilling to negotiate a higher amount to settle your claim.  In addition, insurance companies have prepared settlement releases and other forms with dangerous hidden terms and conditions.  All to frequently we find an insurance company that places indemnity provisions in settlement documents attempting to shift any further financial responsibility for reimbursing medicare or other vendors for medical expenses arising from an accident.  Sign this form for some small cash settlement and you will find yourself on the hook to reimburse medicare.  

Statute of Limitations

Florida law permits a two-year deadline from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for injuries and other losses. Insurance companies are aware of this deadline and will let it expire if the case is not settled. This could potentially leave you with no claim at all. Understanding this deadline can help you determine how to proceed with your case. 

Deciding Not to Settle

If you do not settle your case but still want to move forward, your only option is to sue the person who caused the accident. Many people have difficulty with this decision because they don’t want to negatively impact someone else’s life as a result of an accident. However, in most accident cases, the at-fault party is defended by their own insurance company who will provide them with an attorney and pay out the claim if you are successful. 

Nevertheless, litigation can be a lengthy and time-consuming process that many find draining. Some are intimidated by the prospect of testifying in court, especially being subject to cross-examination by opposing counsel. However, filing a lawsuit may help you settle your case and doesn’t necessarily mean that your case will proceed to trial. 

The Worth of Your Claim

The choice to settle should be an informed decision. You should understand exactly what your claim is worth before proceeding. For instance, your losses may include more than out-of-pocket medical expenses. Hidden future medical expenses or the inability to continue in your employment could result in an unexpected future loss.  An experienced personal injury attorney can help you evaluate your claim and provide an estimate of what your claim is worth based on their knowledge of the law and experience handling similar cases. 

You should never settle a claim because you don’t know your options. The personal injury attorneys at Wittmer|Linehan can help you make the right decision and get the compensation you deserve. We work with accident victims in the Sarasota area and across the State of Florida, and our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience in helping our clients make the best possible decision with their claims. To schedule, a free, initial consultation call us at (941) 365-2296.