Being in a car accident can be overwhelming. You may have to worry about covering medical expenses for your injuries, or filing a claim with your insurance company to deal with any damage done to your vehicle.
With the additional stress, it can seem like a sigh of relief when the insurance company of the at-fault driver reaches out to you and offers a settlement for your Maryland car accident. Before deciding to accept the settlement offer for your car accident, there are some factors that you may want to keep in mind.
One: settlements are legally binding
The first thing to keep in mind is that a car settlement agreement is a legally binding document. Once you sign it, you give up all rights to sue certain parties related to the accident. Even if you discover that additional parties can be held liable for your car accident, or if your injuries are more serious than you initially knew, you would still be prohibited from pursuing any legal action in the future against the parties mentioned in the car settlement agreement.
Two: you cannot ask for more money later
Another factor that you want to keep in mind before signing a settlement agreement is whether the offered amount in the settlement will cover all of your damages. You may discover that you need additional money to cover injuries that require additional treatments. Unfortunately, once you sign the settlement agreement, you are entitled to only the offered amount in the settlement. This means that you will be responsible for paying out of pocket for any additional expenses related to your car accident.
Three: your health insurance company can take some of your car accident award
Personal injury claims can take awhile to resolve, even if you choose to settle instead of going to trial. During this time, your insurance company is likely the one paying the bills. When it comes time to settle, your insurance company practices a legal concept known as subrogation. Subrogation occurs when your insurance company exercises its legal right to go after third-parties for reimbursement for their payments.
For example, say you are in a car accident that leads to multiple injuries. You use your health insurance to get the treatment you need. Then, you settle your case and the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays the settlement. Under the law, you could be required to reimburse your health insurer out of the settlement award you receive, which reduces the amount of compensation you receive.
The silver lining is this: subrogation is not a guaranteed right. Because a settlement is supposed to help “make you whole” – i.e., return you to the state you were in before you were injured – the law dictates what percentage of a recovery an insurer may seek through subrogation. Working with an experienced Maryland car accident attorney can also help reduce the amount of reimbursement an insurer seeks.
Four: you can work with an attorney on your settlement
Working with an attorney doesn’t mean automatically going to trial. An experienced attorney can help with the settlement negotiations as well. In fact, working with an attorney can put you in a position of strength, because insurance companies know from the start that you have competent legal representation on your side. We review your policy as well as the facts of your accident, your medical records and the expected treatment for your injuries, and help craft car accident settlement agreements that are truly reflective of your losses.
Dealing with the effects of a serious car accident is hard; choosing the right Maryland car accident lawyer to represent your interests need not be. Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. creates options for auto accident victims throughout the state of Maryland. Please call at 410-730-7737, or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation.