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Is accepting a settlement offer in your best interest?

You woke up that day expecting it to be like any other. You got into your vehicle and began a drive you make nearly every day, but that day was different. On that day, another vehicle slammed into yours and caused you serious injuries. Within the first few days or weeks after the accident, the other driver's insurance company began contacting you about a settlement. Should you take it? Is it enough? The simple answer to both those questions is probably "no."

Do you have to accept the first settlement offer?

No, you do not have to accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company. The fact is that insurance companies are in the business of making money, and offering you the maximum amount of compensation you may be entitled to does not achieve that goal. For this reason, they tend to offer low settlements at a time when they believe you are most vulnerable.

As your medical costs only seem to increase, and your income only seems to go down, you may consider accepting that first offer out of concern for your financial situation. The insurance company plays on that fear by trying to get to you quickly before you have a chance to truly understand the scope of your injuries and the financial impact the accident will have on your life.

How do you respond?

First, if you have not even received a medical bill yet, you may want to wait to respond. You need to gain a better understanding of the amount of medical costs and other damages you have already accrued and what you may yet accrue in the future. More than likely, the number does not even come close to what you need and deserve.

When you do respond, you need to do so in writing in order to create a paper trail in case you end up having to go to court. You could even make your own offer if you have a good idea of what you will need and the amount to which you may deserve. You may want to send along documentation to back up your counteroffer. The question is determining the amount and finding the best evidence to provide to back up your amount. Fortunately, you do not have to go through this process alone.

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