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Five Things to Know About Car Accident Settlement Agreements

Five Things to Know About Car Accident Settlement Agreements

Car accident claims can be confusing. Most car accident claims are settled by the liability insurance company for the at-fault driver. Colorado requires drivers to have minimum amounts of car insurance.

However, before you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company, there are some things you should know. Keep reading for five things to know about car accident settlement agreements.

1. A Car Accident Settlement Agreement Is Binding and Final

A Car Accident Settlement Agreement Is Binding and Final

Accepting an offer from the insurance company is a final settlement of your car accident claim. The settlement agreement is a binding contract that resolves your dispute. You cannot “undo” the agreement if you change your mind.

You waive your right to file a lawsuit when you sign the agreement. If you have a pending lawsuit, it is dismissed. Because a settlement agreement affects your rights to pursue a claim, you should always have legal advice before signing the agreement.

2. Your Claim Could Be Worth More Than the Insurance Company Offers

Insurance companies are in business to make money. Their priority is to protect their profits by paying as little as possible to resolve claims. Insurance adjusters usually undervalue damages to reduce the amount the company pays to settle your claim.

An accident victim can recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are easier to value because they equal the amount of your lost wages, medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and other expenses related to the car accident.

However, non-economic damages are more difficult to value. These damages are based on many factors that differ in each case. Insurance companies downplay pain and suffering damages. Claims adjusters will not tell you that your damages could be worth more than the settlement offer.

Once you sign the settlement agreement, you are bound to the amount offered. Even if you discover that you should have received more money for your claim, you cannot force the company to pay more for your claim.

3. You Can Negotiate a Settlement Amount

You are not required to accept the offer made by the insurance company. Generally, the initial settlement offer is lower than the value of your damages. You can counteroffer at a higher amount.

When you negotiate a settlement agreement, you must prove your damages. Evidence of economic damages includes medical bills, invoices, receipts, income statements, and other documentation that proves you incurred expenses or lost money because of the car accident.

Non-economic damages are more complicated to prove. 

A Denver car accident lawyer can help you calculate a fair value for these damages based on the factors in your case, such as, but not limited to:

  • The type of injuries you sustained
  • The medical treatments you received
  • The length of your recovery
  • The severity of impairments or disabilities caused by the injuries
  • Whether you sustained scarring or disfigurement
  • Your ability to return to normal activities

The multiplier method is a common way to calculate pain and suffering damages. The insurance company will choose a multiplier as close to 1.5 to lower the value of your non-economic damages. You need a solid argument to increase the multiplier to receive more money for your car accident claim.

4. A Car Accident Settlement Agreement Covers Injuries and Claims You May Not Know About

The terms of the settlement agreement include waivers of claims against all parties. Therefore, you give up the right to pursue a claim against any party, even though you might not know that you could sue another party for damages.

Likewise, the settlement agreement waives your right to pursue claims you did not make. The release covers all legal claims that exist now or in the future. Therefore, if you discover additional injuries you were unaware of when you signed the agreement, you cannot demand more money.

Settlement agreements prepared by insurance companies protect the insurance company. The agreement is in their favor. Signing a settlement agreement without legal advice is not in your best interest. There could be other claims, parties, or damages that you could pursue, but you give up the right to do so by signing the agreement.

5. You Can Negotiate for a Car Accident Settlement Agreement Anytime Before a Verdict 

An insurance adjuster may tell you that you’ll lose the ability to settle your claim if you don’t sign the agreement now. That is not true. Settlement agreements are used to resolve car accident claims before you file a lawsuit. However, you can also sign a settlement agreement after you file a lawsuit.

Filing a car accident lawsuit does not prevent you from negotiating a settlement at any time before a jury returns a verdict. The parties in a lawsuit often engage in settlement negotiations after the discovery phase but before trial.

Tips for Receiving Maximum Compensation for a Car Accident Case in Denver, CO

You can help improve your chances of receiving a fair car accident settlement by taking the following steps:

  • Do not admit fault – Admitting fault or apologizing for the accident could reduce your compensation under Colorado’s comparative fault laws.
  • Gather evidence at the accident scene – If your injuries permit, take pictures of the accident scene and ask witnesses for their names and contact numbers.
  • Seek prompt medical care – Don’t decline medical treatment or say you are okay/uninjured. See a doctor as soon as possible for a medical examination.
  • Keep track of expenses – Keep copies of proof of all expenses and bills related to your claim. Write down all expenses and monetary losses.
  • Follow your doctor’s treatment plan – Failing to follow up with your doctor or follow the treatment plan could result in allegations that you made your injuries and damages worse (i.e., failure to mitigate damages).
  • Don’t provide written or recorded statements – Insurance adjusters are trained to ask leading questions. Your comments could be intentionally misinterpreted and used against you.
  • Avoid using social media – Insurance companies use things you post online. Even if your profiles are private, the information you post online is never truly private.

Consulting with a Denver personal injury lawyer is another way to improve your chance of receiving the best settlement offer possible. An attorney understands the law and how insurance companies work. The insurance company knows it cannot take advantage of you when an attorney represents you.

Call Now for More Information About Car Accident Settlements

If you were injured in a car crash in Colorado, you deserve to be compensated fairly for your injuries and damages. Call Zaner Harden to discuss your case with an experienced Denver car accident lawyer. Before signing forms or accepting a settlement offer, make sure you know your rights and how much your case is worth.

At Zaner Harden Law, we are zealous personal injury lawyers who fight for our clients’ rights. We’ll pursue all sources of compensation for your claim to obtain the maximum value for your damages. Call today at (720) 613-9706 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney.

Where We Are

We are located across the street from Union Station in downtown Denver and offer validated parking for all our clients. We also have offices in Boulder and Colorado Springs.