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Five Things to Know About Car Accident Settlement Agreements in Portland, OR

Five Things to Know About Car Accident Settlement Agreements in Portland, OR

In Portland, you can seek a settlement for your injuries if you’re involved in a car crash, and someone else is to blame. Many of these cases don’t make it to court but rather end in a settlement. The responsible party or their insurer then agrees to pay you. In exchange, you agree to drop any legal claims against them.

A settlement is more than just an agreement; it’s a legally binding contract. Both sides sign a document outlining the settlement terms when settling a car accident case. This typically includes the settlement amount and the legal rights you relinquish by accepting the payment. Settlement agreements often contain more complex details as well.

1. You Shouldn’t Accept the First Offer

1. You Shouldn't Accept the First Offer

When dealing with an insurance company after a car accident, the process typically begins with you filing a claim. The company then assigns an adjuster to handle your case. This adjuster will look into the accident independently to determine who was at fault.

If the adjuster decides their policyholder caused the accident, they usually propose a settlement. This initial offer is something you can either accept or reject. If you feel it’s not enough, you have the right to negotiate for more.

Car accident claims are commonly resolved during this insurance phase. However, be cautious. Insurance companies often aim to minimize the amount they pay. They’ll likely try to pay as little as possible.

This means the first offer they make might not fully cover your needs. It’s wise to have your attorney review any offers. They can help determine if the terms are fair and negotiate better ones if needed. Remember, it’s crucial not to rush into accepting the first settlement offer.

2. You Can Negotiate Your Settlement

It’s important to remember that you have the right to negotiate the settlement amount. Often, the first offer you receive from the insurance company is low. They might even imply that it’s their final offer.

Here’s what you should know about negotiating your settlement:

  • You Can Reject the Initial Offer: Just because the insurance company makes an offer doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
  • Make a Counteroffer: When you respond, propose a higher amount than what you actually expect to get. This gives you room to negotiate and meet somewhere in the middle.
  • Expect Further Negotiation: The insurance company may counter your proposal with an offer somewhere between their initial amount and your counteroffer.
  • Be Prepared for a Lengthy Process: Negotiations can take weeks or even months. The stronger your evidence and documentation of damages, the better your chances of receiving a fair settlement.
  • Know Your Last Resort: If the insurance company doesn’t agree to a fair amount, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.

Negotiating with insurance companies can be challenging, so having legal representation is beneficial.

When you receive a settlement offer from an auto insurance company after an accident, it’s natural to focus on the payout. However, it’s critical to read the entire offer carefully. Why? Because you might overlook important clauses hidden in the fine print that could limit your rights later on.

Auto insurance companies sometimes include terms in the settlement agreement that can restrict your options or rights:

  • Strict Payment Schedules: They might dictate when and how you receive the settlement money, which can be restrictive.
  • Spending Restrictions: There may be rules about how you can use the settlement money, limiting your freedom to manage the funds.
  • Mandatory Arbitration: Some agreements require any future disputes to be settled through arbitration rather than in court, which can be less favorable to you.

The safest way to avoid these pitfalls is to have a seasoned attorney review the settlement agreement before you sign it. They can scrutinize the contract for any unfair clauses and negotiate with the adjuster to remove them, ensuring your rights are protected. Remember, an attorney’s expertise is invaluable in safeguarding your interests in these situations.

4. Settlement Agreements Are Final

There’s no turning back once you sign a settlement agreement after a car accident. The agreement is a final, binding contract, usually very clear about its terms. It will clearly state that the legal case or claim you’re settling is completely over.

Sometimes, accident victims who settle with an insurance company without a lawyer’s help ask if they can undo the agreement or sue for more money. But, once a settlement is signed, the chance to go back or sue again about the same accident is almost zero.

That’s why it’s important to talk to a lawyer before signing any settlement agreement. These agreements are final and can’t be changed once they’re signed.

5. What You Can Be Compensated for in a Settlement Agreement

In Portland, Oregon, if you’re involved in a car accident, understanding what you can be compensated for in a settlement agreement is crucial. Car accidents can be costly, not just in terms of vehicle damage but also in terms of physical and emotional impact.

Here’s what you can typically expect to be covered in a settlement agreement:

  • Medical Expenses: If you’ve suffered injuries from a car accident, you can be compensated for medical bills, including surgeries, ongoing treatments, and medications.
  • Lost Wages: If your injuries prevent you from working, the settlement can cover the income you’ve lost during this period.
  • Lost Earning Potential: More severe injuries might affect your ability to work in the future. Compensation can be sought for this lost earning potential.
  • Property Damage: This includes costs to repair or replace your vehicle and any other personal property damaged in the accident.
  • Pain and Suffering: Beyond physical injuries, you’re entitled to compensation for emotional and psychological trauma resulting from the accident.
  • Additional Damages: Depending on your case’s specifics, you might be eligible for other forms of compensation, such as loss of consortium or, in tragic cases, wrongful death.

Each car accident case in Portland is unique, so the settlement amount will vary. 

Contact an Experienced Portland Car Accident Attorney 

If you’re dealing with a car accident settlement in Portland and need help, call Tillmann Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyer at (503) 773-3333. Our team is here to make sure you get a fair deal. We’re ready to help you, so contact our Portland car accident lawyer today for the support you need.

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