Quick Settlements – A Cautionary Tale

Quick Settlements – A Cautionary Tale
November 27, 2012 jamesludlow

I was driving on the highway the other day when I was passed by an insurance company’s “Quick Response Vehicle.”  This is a white SUV that the insurer sends out to accident scenes or to the homes or workplaces of accident victims to attempt to resolve accident claims quickly.  In fact, the claims adjustors usually have a checkbook and a “release of all claims” form with them.

While I consider it commendable for an insurance company to attempt to resolve property damage claims quickly since people after all do need their vehicle repaired or replaced as soon as possible, a quick settlement involving a personal injury claim may not be a good thing.

One of the most important reasons to view a personal injury settlement that is offered shortly after an accident with a good deal of caution is that not all injuries from an accident may show up right away, and may be more serious than first thought. If the severity of the injury is not fully understand at the time of settlement, the injured person will not be fairly compensated, medical expenses may go unpaid, and proper medical care may not be provided if there is no means to pay for it.

An example is a recent knee injury case that I settled for $50,000.  The potential client had been in a car accident and when he initially spoke with me for a free consultation, he told me that he had twisted his knee in the crash and still had some soreness, but that he thought he would be fine and was thinking about accepting $1,000 that had been offered for the settlement of his injury claim.

In response, I told this potential client that it was certainly possible that his knee was only sprained and that he would be fine, but that if he hadn’t yet had an MRI of his knee, he couldn’t be sure that he didn’t have something more serious such as a torn meniscus.  I thus encouraged him to wait and see how his knee did over the following month.  The potential client agreed and said that he would call me back in a couple weeks.

I then heard back from this gentleman a month later and he stated that his knee was still hurting some, but he was still thinking about taking the $1,000 settlement.  In response, I recommended that he tell his family doctor how his knee was feeling and to follow his recommendations.

Several weeks later, I heard that the family doctor wanted the potential client to see an orthopaedic surgeon to examine the knee.  An orthopaedic surgeon then examined the knee and recommended an MRI.  In making a long story short, it turned out that the client did have a meniscus tear in his knee that was caused by the accident and that required surgery.

When the full extent of the client’s injury became known, I was then able to then settle the case for the liability insurance policy limits of $50,000 that were available from the person’s insurance company who caused this crash, or 50 times more than what the client had been offered initially.  So while a quick personal injury settlement may was tempting, it wouldn’t have worked out very well in the end.

If you’ve been involved in an accident that was someone else’s fault, and an insurance adjustor is offering you a quick settlement on your personal injury claim, the best advice is to do what my former client did—call an experienced personal injury attorney at Ludlow Law to discuss your claim and how I can help. Call me toll-free at (877) 897-9466 or submit the simple form on the Contact Us page.