You should wait until you have completely healed.
Settling a car accident claim right away is almost always a bad idea. Why? Because a settlement is final.
The other driver’s insurance company isn’t going to pay you real money without having you sign a document (called a “release”) that releases your claim against it – and the other driver – forever.
If you settle before you have completely healed, you might get worse after the settlement, and require more medical treatment, or miss work. If that happens, you can’t get any more money out of the insurance company, because in the settlement you agreed not to sue them.
You cannot get paid for lost wages you miss after you sign the release, for medical bills you incur after then, or for pain and suffering you go through after you settle. It’s over.
The least significant bone and muscle injuries still require weeks – sometimes months – to get better without surgery. Even insurance doctors will concede that if you have a “whiplash” type injury that requires treatment – they also call it “flexion – extension” – you cannot expect to get back to the way you were before the accident in less than four to six weeks, or more.
Also, the insurance company hardly ever offers as much to you alone as it will after you’ve hired a lawyer. Even after you account for the lawyer’s fee.
Money is an issue for all of us. No one likes being unable pay for things they could afford before an accident. But nearly everyone has some resource – disability insurance, health insurance coverage, automobile medical payments coverage, savings – that lets them make it through until they are better all the way.
Most of the time.
Sometimes, the other driver has low limits – and it might make sense to accept his insurance company’s offer of all of its available coverage. BUT EVEN THEN, THIS SHOULD ONLY BE DONE AFTER HIRING A LAWYER, AND IT SHOULD BE DONE BY THE LAWYER.
Why? Because you may also have rights to make a claim under your own underinsured motorist (uim) policy coverage – and if you don’t get your own insurance company’s permission to accept the settlement and sign the release, doing so might kill your “uim” claim.
So do the right thing. Be patient. See a lawyer right away. Don’t settle until you’re all the way better. It’s the smart thing for you and your family.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. Once you take money from the insurance company and sign a release, you can’t get any more money from that company. If you’re looking for a lawyer in Cincinnati, speak with an experienced Cincinnati lawyer – call me at at 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.