Accepting a Settlement Offer
By Chris Dixon
If you or a family member are injured and have submitted a claim to the negligent party’s insurance company, a settlement offer can be a big relief. After negotiating a settlement, the insurer will likely give you a verbal confirmation over the phone. You, who may be hospitalized or otherwise stressed due to the incident, could say “Yes” to a $10,000 settlement when your claim is actually worth several times more.
Insurance companies know how stressful it is to open a claim and bring it to a close. When medical bills, reduced paychecks, and other financial pressures start building up, it is easy to be taken advantage of by insurance companies who offer a low amount (because they know your case is worth more) in the hope that you’ll accept without hesitation. That’s why it’s crucial to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible before you send in a write a demand letter.
Legal backup is the smart way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
What Do You Do If You Get Offered a Settlement?
There are three things that need to happen for you to be able to get a settlement and cash your check:
- Your lawyer and the insurance company will confirm that a settlement was agreed upon via phone or mail. You want to have written confirmation.
- Then, the insurance company will send you a release that says you won’t pursue any more damages for that particular claim. It’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer to help you understand the release and its implications.
- Once you’ve signed the release, send it back and wait 2-3 weeks for your settlement check. If it takes any longer than that, be sure to reach out to the insurance company and document your interactions.
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each step and get a better understanding of how an experienced lawyer will go through this process.
1. Settlement Confirmation Letter
Once you and your lawyer agree on a settlement with an insurance company, it’s important to verify it in writing. Often, you’ll come to an agreement over the phone. You need to get the settlement figure in writing. If the insurance company doesn’t send you a letter restating the final settlement, your lawyer will most likely send a confirmation request letter that clearly states when the phone conversation occurred, how much was agreed upon, and that you’re expecting a check at a specific address. Once you’ve confirmed the settlement, expect to receive a check and an insurance claim release form.
2. What is an Insurance Release Form?
Once you and your lawyer have come to an agreed settlement you’ll have to sign a release form. Most insurers require you to sign a release before sending you a check. It’s crucial not to rush this final step. Have your attorney read through the release with you to ensure there aren’t any legal implications or restrictions. Most likely, the release will include a non-disclosure agreement.
Some insurers will send the check with the release form. If you try to cash the check before they verify they’ve gotten your signed release form, there may be serious consequences. On the other hand, some insurance companies won’t send a check until you actually send in the release.
The release will verify the settlement amount and make clear that you’re unable to pursue more compensation for the original accident. You can’t go back and request more if a medical condition worsens, for example. And liens or other expenses are off the table after you sign the form and cash the check.
Another caveat of a release form is that you declare that the insurance company or insurer is not at fault or, if they say they are, that you won’t tell anyone. Insurers prefer to settle claims outside of court so any information is kept private. Lawsuits can become public and escalate into a public relations issue. Once you sign the form, you waive your rights to pursue more compensation from other sources like another at-fault party.
3. Sign and Return the Release Form
If you’re confident that you understand the terms of the release form and any consequences, you’ll need to mail it back to the insurance company. Have your lawyer help you with this process to make sure everything is in order. Make sure to document the process and make or request copies of the release you sign. Finally, if the at-fault insurer did send a check with the release, you’ll be able to deposit it. If not, expect a check within two weeks after the insurer gets the release. Have your lawyer reach out to the insurance company if you don’t receive your check after two or three weeks.
The Dixon Injury Firm helps injured victims and their families deal with insurance claims and in-court lawsuits. We also don’t charge anything for legal representation unless we win the case or claim. If you’re injured in the Greater St. Louis area or Southern Illinois, contact the Dixon Injury Firm today for a free consultation and help settling your insurance claim.