Can You Refuse the First Settlement Offer?

Published on June 25, 2024, by Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp

Personal Injury

When you’re involved in any type of accident, you will probably receive a settlement offer from the at-fault party’s insurance company if liability is clear. When you read the details of the offer, it might be well below what you expected to receive.

Is that the end of the settlement process? No, and you have options to get the compensation that you deserve.

At the Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp, we have seen many settlement offers over the years, and the initial ones often come as a shock to our clients.

Let’s explore if you can refuse the first settlement offer and what steps you can take after receiving a low offer.

Initial Settlement Offers Are Low

When you file a claim, receiving an initial settlement offer from the insurance company is normal. Sometimes, you may receive this offer early in the claims process, even before a full assessment of damages or medical treatment has been completed.

Insurance companies want to minimize costs and need to close out a claim. They hope that you take this offer and finalize the settlement. However, you may be shocked at the low amount after receiving an initial offer.

There are several reasons for this. First, the insurance adjuster may not have assessed the full extent of the damages. Another reason is that the adjuster may use a formula to calculate the settlement amount. Often, those numbers do not account for the unique aspects of your claim, such as pain and suffering.

Remember that the initial offer is just the starting point for negotiations. You have the right to negotiate with the insurance company and present evidence to support your claim. When you receive this offer, always review it with a qualified lawyer who handles serious Reno car crashes like yours or just a personal injury attorney in general. They will be able to tell whether it is a fair offer or whether you should pass it up.

Why You Shouldn’t Accept the First Offer

As mentioned above, insurance adjusters are concerned with protecting the company’s bottom line. Rarely does an initial offer reflect your best interests.

You and your lawyer need to carefully review and evaluate the initial offer. Take this opportunity to use the initial offer as a negotiation point for a higher settlement, especially if you have expenses that the first settlement will not cover. Accepting this offer without question may leave money on the table. In most cases, it may not fully compensate you for your losses.

If you have been involved in an accident or suffered any injury resulting in losses, you need to protect your interests. In these cases, your lawyer might need to prepare a demand letter that outlines the extent of your losses.

Your demand letter must be as detailed as possible. You need to include the costs for medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and any other losses that resulted from the accident. Supporting documentation, such as medical bills, repair estimates, and photographs of your injuries or damages, is vital. This type of documentation can help to prove your claim.

If you’re not satisfied with the offer an insurance adjuster makes after reviewing your demand letter, you can make a counteroffer. Now is the time for your lawyer to negotiate with the adjuster to reach a better settlement. When you agree to a settlement, it needs to cover all your losses, not just a partial amount.

For these steps, you will want to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. They have experience negotiating with insurance companies. Also, they understand the full amount of your damages. Even if you feel that the initial offer is fair, an attorney can tell you that there is more value to your claim than you may have initially thought.

What Happens If You Reject What’s Been Offered?

Sometimes, the insurance company will not budge from their initial settlement offers. What can you do next? You have legal options, but you will have to act fast. Nevada has a statute of limitation of two years from the time of the incident to file a legal claim.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to explore other avenues for seeking compensation. If the negotiations have come to a standstill, you can take your case to court.

Under these circumstances, your legal team will take the evidence and argue on your behalf in front of a judge or jury. While most cases are settled out of court, some insurers may believe that their client was not at fault or that they shared some responsibility for the accident.

Unfortunately, settling these claims in court is usually the only option. However, having an experienced lawyer on your side can help improve your chances of a successful financial recovery.

Rejecting the first offer doesn’t have to be a dead end. This may be the starting point for continuing negotiations or exploring other legal options. Remember, you can still seek compensation and reach an outcome that is more in your favor.