Following a fatal accident, be careful not to settle prematurely.
Losing a loved one in a fatal accident should result in financial restitution from the wrongdoer. The problem is that many people who've lost a loved one under such circumstances settle with the defendant's insurance carrier, not knowing that they also just released the defendant from any future liability. In this article, we'll explain why you shouldn't rush into a settlement following a wrongful death car accident.
How the other party's insurance carrier views your claim:
The insurance company who represents the person that killed your loved one wants you to think that they have your best interests in mind. They ask to hear your side of the story, and reassure you that they'll do everything in their power to make sure you get fair compensation. But that is simply not the case. They act solely in the interest of their client, the defendant. In fact, that's their job.
More specifically, their job is to protect their insured, which can take a few forms. Sometimes the best way for them to protect their insured is to spot a weakness in your case and exploit that to limit the value of your case and therefore limit how much their insured will have to pay you. Sometimes it means that they will try to drag your deceased loved one's name through the mud. And sometimes the best way for them to protect their insured is to pay you a settlement as quickly as possible. While that may not sound like a bad thing, it most certainly can be.
The negative side effects of settling a case:
You see, when you settle a case, by definition, you are giving up the right to pursue further compensation in exchange for compensation now. When an insurance company is involved, they are offering to pay the money for the defendant who hurt you, but only if you agree to let him off the hook.
We speak to prospective clients all the time who are not aware of this fact, and they call us after they settled with the insurance carrier of the person who killed their loved one. They figure that, since the insurance claims is now resolved, the "real" case begins, and thay can now hire us to sue the wrongdoer and take his house and his car and his money in the bank. The problem with this theory is that, by taking the insurance money, they already waived their right to future compensation.
Naturally, a better approach would be for the family to NOT settle the car insurance case (this is assuming the insurance carrier is even willing to settle; far too often they are not) and instead have our attorneys investigate the accident, learn what assets the defendant has, and the decide whether the insurance money and its related "release of liability contract" is the better avenue, or whether that money should be disregarded so that the defendant's own money and assets can be pursued.
You must consider the future.
You may be wondering, "If I get some compensation from the other driver's insurance carrier, does it really matter if I sue him for his personal assets?" A lot of times, people who are grieving after losing a loved one don't see the big picture as far as their losses are concerned. In the short term the prospect of paying for funeral expenses may be the only immediate concern, but the financial effects of losing a loved one can last for years to come. Why is that? Well, think about what that loved one did for you and your family:
- Were they the sole income earner?
- Were they your longtime companion?
- Were they a parent to your children?
- Did they have their own children that you now must take guardianship of?
These questions go on and on. And the truth is, the loss of a loved one has a tremendous financial toll. You may have lost the primary income to your household, and as such, you're having to make due with a substantial loss in household income. You may have lost a spouse, whose loss was not just an emotional one for you, but if they were co-parenting with you, you may have now lost valuable childcare. Or, if they had children and now you must take on responsibility for those children, forcing you to need more money just to raise the kids.
Essentially, the financial burden left by the fatality doesn't just end after burial, but lasts for years to come. This is why it is crucial not to prematurely accept a settlement. Hold out and hold on. Fight for the compensation you need and deserve.
How Grossman Law Offices Can Help
We hope that this article has done a good job of explaining how a seemingly good insurance settlement can actually be less than good. Before rushing into anything, speak with a knowledgable Texas car accident attorney. We can help you determine if taking a settlement really is beneficial or if it's just the insurance carrier's attempt at limiting their client's financial exposure. If you're ready for help, our firm is ready to go to bat for you. Please feel free to call us at (855) 326-0000 .
Related Articles For Further Reading:
- Does the Insurance Company Have to Pay for My Medical Bills?
- Do Insurance Policies Cover the Car or the Driver?
- Car Accident Defenses: Failure to Show Proximate Cause