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The first settlement offer after a crash will probably be too low

You've just been through a harrowing experience. Another vehicle slammed into yours, and you suffered serious injuries. As you lie in your hospital bed, an insurance adjuster either calls you or shows up to your room to take your statement. This may be the first clue as to how the process of receiving an insurance settlement may go.

First, when it comes to making that statement, you may want to put it off until you have a chance to speak with an attorney. The insurance company will use any statements you make against you when it comes to offering you a settlement. Sometime after you file your claim, the adjuster will more than likely offer you a settlement, probably before you even know how long it will take you to recover, what ongoing medical care you may need or whether the accident caused you permanent injuries.

Don't cash that check just yet

Whether you are lying in a hospital bed or convalescing at home, you may already begin to worry about the financial losses the accident brings. Having that check in your hand may seem like a gift, but it probably isn't. More than likely, that check is for far less than what your claim is actually worth. If you cash it now, you could find yourself responsible for future medical costs, lost income and other expenses.

You don't have to accept that first offer. More than likely, you probably shouldn't. The only way to know is to analyze the offer. Perhaps the adjuster thinks you contributed to the accident, or maybe the adjuster didn't have all of the relevant information. In other cases, it's a negotiation tactic. The insurance company depends on at least some people accepting that first offer as a final settlement of all claims, knowing that it's low.

Feel free to negotiate

Ohio residents negotiate settlements with insurance companies all the time. Why not you? You can respond to the insurance company's first offer by politely rejecting it and including your own counteroffer. If you believe the low offer stemmed from missing information or a misunderstanding of the facts, you may want to send more information. If your medical condition has updated since you filed your claim, then the insurance company needs documentation of it.

In addition to documenting your losses, you may also want to explain how your injuries affect you and your family. You may want to explain the emotional and psychological backlash from the crash. If your doctors believe your injuries will continue to affect your life forever, provide information regarding that aspect as well. Any information you believe will substantiate your counteroffer should accompany your correspondence.

Negotiating with an insurance company may not be something you want to do alone. Fortunately, you won't have to if you make use of the legal resources at your disposal.

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