You got into a car crash when someone ran a red light or didn’t look up from the text message on their phone while backing out of their driveway. You suffered a noteworthy injury, possibly a broken bone. You have a good prognosis, medical bills and a few weeks of missed wages.
Thankfully, the insurance company representing the person who hit you offers you a settlement almost immediately. You estimate you’ll only miss six weeks of work for a broken bone in your arm, so although the settlement is a little on the low side, you decide to take it.
Now you have money to pay your bills until you get back to work. That may seem like a perfect situation, but in reality, a quick turnaround on a settlement when you have an injury can be a major mistake.
You don’t really know what an injury will cost until your recovery is complete
You may hope for a smooth recovery, but what if you develop an infection? Even a broken bone could have long-term effects on your health and ability to work. You could develop an unusual but severe condition like complex regional pain syndrome that permanently reduces your strength and causes discomfort in the affected limb.
You could discover that you have worse atrophy than many people do and that you require weeks of physical or occupational therapy to regain work functions. Hoping for the best is smart, as positive attitudes can go a long way toward making recovery smoother. However, when it comes to money and your legal rights, you should err on the side of caution rather than wishing for the best.
Once you sign the settlement, you have limited options
One of the reasons insurance companies are often keen to settle after crashes is that a lump sum settlement absolves them of the liabilities they would have for future bills and claims from the same crash.
Unless you can construct a bad faith insurance argument because they knowingly offered you too low of a settlement, it can be hard to get more compensation once you already agreed to a settlement. Reviewing a settlement offer after a crash and waiting until you understand the outcome of your recuperation can limit the likelihood of you accepting a settlement that fails to cover all of your costs.