Personal Injury: Should I Accept a First Settlement Offer

image of a man injured in the workplace being attended to for Personal-Injury--Should-I-Accept-a-First-Settlement-Offer by Mullins & Treacy LLP

You should not accept a personal injury settlement without getting independent legal advice first.

Insurance companies are known to target claimants early in the hope of settling the case for less than its true value.
Even the Personal Injuries Assessment Board may not have taken all your losses into account, meaning you could be entitled a greater sum of compensation.
Our personal injury solicitors Waterford can assess your claim and advise whether a settlement offer is reasonable.

Has an insurance company made you an offer?

When you’re injured through no fault of your own, you are entitled to make a claim for damages. This claim is usually handled by the defendant’s insurance company.
A common example is a road traffic accident. If the other driver is at fault, you can make a claim against their insurance company. The insurer pays for your compensation. This includes redress for your physical injuries, your psychological injuries and your financial losses.

However, insurers prefer to settle personal injury claims quickly. It prevents the ongoing costs of legal action. It also means that they can make a ‘lowball’ offer. Obviously, this is in the insurance company’s best interest – but it isn’t in yours.

What should you do?

An insurance company may contact you directly after an accident, offering to settle your claim in full. In return, you waive your right to bring further legal action.
We appreciate that this might be very tempting. You might not even have thought about claiming compensation until now.

But we strongly advise that you get independent legal advice before you accept. It is very likely that you are entitled to far more compensation than what is on offer. Insurance companies have been known to be quite aggressive in their tactics.

They might push you into a signing a document, or they might even say that you’ll ‘lose out’ by taking the claim any further. Please do not succumb to such scare-mongering. Refuse to sign anything until you have spoken to our personal injury solicitors. We will give you an honest assessment. If we think you are entitled to a larger settlement, we will tell you straight.

The problem with settling early

The problem with settling early is that you do not actually know what all your damages are. No one has taken the time to calculate all your past and future financial losses. Nor has anyone analysed your injuries and set out how these have impacted your life, and how they could impact your life in the future.

You might need ongoing treatment, rehabilitation or care. Even if it’s just help around the house, this is a cost that must be factored in to your settlement.

You have two years less on day to make a claim (although there are different rules for children and those who lack capacity). There is no need to rush. It is important to understand the full extent of your injuries before accepting a settlement offer. You only have one chance to make a claim, so you need to get it right. Otherwise, the only person to lose out is you.

What about PIAB’s assessment?

If you do make a personal injury claim, it will probably have to be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) first. PIAB will assess your claim and determine how much compensation you should receive.

However, you do not actually have to accept this settlement offer. If you think it is too low, then you can reject their assessment. PIAB will then issue an authorisation, allowing you to take the matter through the courts. In reality, your solicitor will likely negotiate an out of court settlement.

Related: What happens if I reject a PIAB settlement offer?

If PIAB has recently returned its verdict, then you might be wondering: should you accept PIAB’s assessment of your claim?
In this situation, our advice remains the same: get independent legal advice before making a decision. Hopefully, you already have a personal injury solicitor. If so, they can suggest whether PIAB’s assessment is fair. If not, contact our personal injury solicitors Waterford.

If we don’t think the assessment is reasonable, we can help you negotiate a more favourable outcome. Find out more about why you should speak to our solicitors before accepting a PIAB assessment.

Personal injury solicitors Waterford

Be very careful about accepting a first settlement offer, particularly from an insurer. Your total damages are likely far greater than have been accounted for.
For expert legal advice, contact our personal injury solicitors Waterford. We specialise in personal injury claims and can help you get the settlement you deserve. We are client focused and results driven.

Call us on 051 391 488 or email reception@mullinstreacy.ie for a no obligation enquiry.

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