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Why Premature Settlements Can Be an Irreparable Mistake

Immediately after a car accident, it is tempting for many to rush to settle their personal injury claims. There are many reasons why a large number of car accident victims choose to go down this dangerous and risky road. However, the main reason is they want a quick settlement -- to pay medical bills, take care of their immediate financial needs and get back to work so they can put the entire, unpleasant episode behind them. There, is no doubt, an element of denial here. The victim wants to believe he is "just fine" and everything will go back to being the way it was prior to the accident.

Don't Rush to Settle Your Car Accident Case

Sometimes, that is true. The injury is not a big deal and the victim goes on to make a speedy and complete recovery. However, this is only an ideal situation. In a majority of auto accidents, personal injuries, even those described as "moderate," can linger on months or years after the incident and lead to time away from work and money lost in wages and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

We have dealt with several clients who, in my opinion, entered into a premature settlement with an insurance company and suffered a great deal later. Here is the critical issue: Once you take a settlement or sign an agreement with an insurance company, the deal is done. You cannot reopen the case after you have agreed to a settlement although you may still suffer from pain or continue to need treatment.

A Heartbreaking Story

There is a sad story of a young man, husband and father of two small children who was a union ironworker. Three months prior to his car accident, he was hired on a new construction job, which was projected to last a few years. He had been unemployed for nearly six months prior. Although he was injured in a car accident, he decided he did not want to risk taking any time off from his job to get medical treatment. He was afraid of losing his job if he did so.

The at-fault driver who hit him offered him $500 in cash to settle his claim instead of going through his insurance company. This car accident victim wanted me to negotiate a higher settlement for him because he felt that he was injured and should be getting treatment. I refused to settle his case so quickly and advised him that he should wait and see how events unfold and not rush to settle his claim. But the $500 was too tempting for this man, understandably so, and he took it. They signed a settlement agreement.

Eight months later, the young ironworker called me, this time from an Orange County hospital and begged me to come and talk to him. He was about to have emergency spinal surgery. His doctor had told him that he is never going back to being an ironworker. At this point, he had been off work for 90 days because of unbearable pain and had lost his job on the construction project. His doctor said he was relatively sure that the car accident was what started the problem and what made it worse was the fact that he did not get any care for his spinal injury. Instead he continued to work causing a series of bulging discs that were now causing extreme pain and preventing him from working in the construction industry. At this point, he couldn't get out of bed.

Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do for this young man because he settled his case prematurely. He did not let his injuries fully manifest before settling his claim.

Insurance Adjusters Are Not Your Friends

In this young man's case, he did not go through an insurance company. But if you go through an insurance company in your car accident case, you will find that your insurance adjuster will be more than eager to arrange a quick settlement. Why? The adjuster is well aware that the full extent of an injury is not likely to be known in the days following the accident. The sooner he settles with you, the less his company will have to compensate you for your losses. A quick settlement is fully in the insurance company's favor, not yours.

This is exactly why you owe it to yourself and your family to be patient in the aftermath of a car accident -- although it might be the more difficult thing to do. It is critical that you take the time to get a complete and thorough medical diagnosis of your injuries. If you got emergency care, schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor. Make sure you have given sufficient time for your injuries to manifest fully. Only then are you favorably positioned to receive the compensation you rightfully deserve for the full extent of your losses.

It Pays to Be Patient

If you accept payment or sign an agreement, like that young ironworker, you sign away your rights. You cannot renegotiate your settlement, irrespective of the long-term effects of your injuries. This applies even if your injuries result in permanent, lifelong disability or worse, if your family loses you prematurely. Remember, things can go from bad to worse.

An experienced California personal injury lawyer will not rush to settle your claim or advise you to take the first bit of money that is offered to you. A knowledgeable car accident attorney will advise that you wait until a clear and complete picture emerges so you can find out what your case is worth and receive a complete settlement that accurately compensates you for your injuries, damages and losses.


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Client Reviews of Bisnar Chase

“Undoubtedly the best firm I've ever encountered. It's not a huge firm, as I only worked with a few people, but it felt like a real place where work gets done. I never felt like a "little person," as my case wasn't small, but it wasn't huge either. I know lawyers have gotten a bad rap, but these guys bring the word classy back to law. I definitely can recommend these guys.”

by Clark G.

reviewed at Yelp

“I just wanted everyone to know how grateful Miguel and Luga were to your office and everyone that participated in their case. I met with them this morning to give them their settlement checks - Miguel stated from the first time he walked into our office and from walking out the door today was one of the most heartwarming experiences he has ever had. They both felt cared for and taken care of every step of the way! I just wanted to pass that on to each of you and to applaud you for such a fine job!”

by M E.

reviewed at Yelp

“We received an email from A.G. Edwards stating they have received the settlement check from Nissan. Once again, I cannot begin to articulate our gratitude to the Bisnar Chase staff - we are so very thankful for all you have done for Josh. As parents, Charlotte and I can rest in peace, when that day comes, knowing that Josh's needs have been taken care of, and his financial future is in good hands with sound financial planners at A.G. Edwards. On December 17, 2003 we received a call from the paramedics stating that Josh and Lisa had been in a severe accident, and we needed to meet them at the emergency room. I remember telling God that I can deal with missing limbs because they can be replaced, but please do not take him from us. A month later we met with members of your staff for the first time, Josh had a traumatic brain injury and his future was looking pretty bleak; we had no idea where he would be eighteen months later. All we could think of at the time was that our son's future, his goals, and dreams had been taken from him so abruptly. As time passed, Josh continued to improve and he began his journey of recovery. Many have been involved in this process, and you and your staff have been an integral part of Josh's recovery, and we will be forever grateful. God has brought so many people into our lives, and we are so very blessed. Numerous emails were sent to Personal Injury Attorney's. John...you were on a ski trip at Big Bear with your family, and you were the only Personal Injury Attorney to respond - I believe this was divine intervention. Josh has a professor from Mt. San Jacinto College who has taken him "under his wing," and is showing him other career possibilities. John, the future looks good for Josh - thank you!”

by K N.

reviewed at Yelp

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