- If you receive a check from the at-fault driver’s insurance company shortly after an accident, there is a good chance it will be for less than your claim is worth.
- Car insurance companies may send a check as a tactic to avoid paying higher compensation for your injuries.
- Oftentimes, when you cash a check from an insurance company, you are waiving your right to any future claims or compensation.
If you have recently been involved in a car accident in the state of Georgia, you may be wondering why a check magically appeared in your mailbox addressed to you from a car insurance company.
With no medical bills present, isn’t getting compensated for your injuries suffered in a car accident supposed to take longer and be more difficult? You may be wondering, what’s the catch? Why is an insurance company sending me money before we truly know the total cost of the accident?
As the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Here’s what you should know.
A Common Tactic Used by Insurance Companies
Likely, you are not used to getting into car accidents, so a surprise check in the mail will leave you confused and questioning what you should do. Most people would jump at the chance to deposit unexpected money – but does this check come with strings attached?
Insurance companies send proposed settlement checks as a common standard procedure. While it’s nothing to worry about, you’re right to be skeptical.
This is because the check you received likely comes short of many of the damages and expenses you deserve. The decision you make with that check is critical. Most of the time, cashing it will end your ability to file a claim in the future, which is a win for the insurance company because it means they’ll be saving money.
Why Insurance Companies Act Fast After Accidents
Oftentimes after a car accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company will reach out to you to see if you are injured and plan to seek medical care. Some may even go so far as sending a check to settle the potential claim.
But remember, insurance companies don’t remain in business by handing out free money to people. So why did they send you a check so quickly? The answer is simple: risk management.
If an insurance company can get you to quickly agree to a lower number than you might actually be owed, then that is a victory for them, not you.
In most cases, once you cash an insurance check, you are forever waiving your ability to sue or receive more money that you may be entitled to for your injuries and other related costs from a car accident.
Car insurance companies routinely include a waiver with these checks, which releases the at-fault party’s insurance company from any future claims related to the accident. But even if your check didn’t come with a waiver, cashing it will likely be viewed as an acceptance of a settlement, and in turn, any future claims you may have would be denied.
Long story short: Do not cash an insurance check before you speak to an attorney.
I was offered $X to settle my case. Should I take this offer?
It is a good practice to consult with an attorney before accepting any settlement offer from an insurance company. Unfortunately, insurance companies will generally offer an amount that will not adequately compensate you if they believe they can get away with it without a fight.
What Your Insurance Check Should Cover
If you are considering cashing an insurance check, then it is important to be sure that the amount being offered covers all of your expenses that resulted from the accident, including:
- All your medical bill costs, past and future, for the related injury
- All your recovery expenses, like physical therapy and follow-ups
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages, if you have been or will continue to be unable to work
- Vehicle damage expenses
- Rental car reimbursement
It is important to know that you may be eligible for other compensation as well. Unfortunately, these expenses are rarely ever covered in the initial insurance check.
Also, be cautious of any compensation that includes the other passengers’ bills or a waiver on their liability. If your check includes compensation for other passengers in your vehicle, then the insurance company is likely attempting to resolve the entire claim for a fraction of what it is really worth.
If your insurance check doesn’t fully cover all of these expenses, or you are unsure if it does, then it is important to speak with an experienced car accident attorney before you cash your check.
What It Means If You Receive a Check from a Negligent Driver’s Insurance
If you’ve received a check from the other driver’s insurance company, it is usually an indication that the insurance company believes you have a viable case. This means they are aware they will have to accept liability and will be required to pay even more than their initial offer. By providing you a check quickly, they are hoping to avoid a potential claim, which would therefore save them money.
A quick settlement may benefit you in the short term but will likely benefit the insurance company in the long run, as it will protect them from any future lawsuits relating to your claim.
Don’t play the insurance company’s game or feel pressured into making a quick decision. Make sure you know what your entire case is worth, so you don’t leave money on the table.
What to Do If You Need Money Fast – But Don’t Want to Settle for Less
Medical bills and other expenses that arise from a car accident can build up quickly. It is common to feel the financial pressure that comes with the unexpected costs you can face from the fallout of a car accident.
If you need money now but don’t want to settle for less than you are owed, there are some available options that will allow you to borrow money against your potential claim. But keep in mind that some companies will charge you interest on these types of loans.
Insurance companies know that many people need immediate financial help and seek to take advantage of people by sending lowball offers for settlements.
Why You Should Speak with an Attorney Before Cashing an Insurance Check
One of the biggest reasons you should speak with an attorney before cashing an insurance check is because it is unlikely that you know the true value of your personal injury claim. Insurance companies profit on this and, therefore, may offer you much less than what you might be owed for your injuries.
Insurance adjusters know that most people are not legal experts and likely don’t understand much about the claim process and what an appropriate offer is. It is normal to have a number of questions about the legal process and what you might be entitled to under Georgia law.
Knowledge is power, and you will be in a much better position to make an informed decision about your case once you understand what it is actually worth. Personal injury cases often require an experienced hand to help you calculate your case’s potential value and guide you on your best next steps to help achieve the maximum recovery possible.
Our Advice: Hold on to the Check Until You Speak with Us
If you were in a car accident and received a check from an insurance company, then you should hold on to the check until you speak with an experienced attorney. At The Millar Law Firm, we are proud to offer free consultations to all prospective clients. Our attorneys have more than 50 years of combined personal injury experience and have helped people all over the state of Georgia recover the money they deserve.
An insurance company’s initial offer to settle your case is often not the best one they will make. Don’t accept the first offer unless you are sure it is the best decision for your financial and physical recovery from a car accident.
We can help you make that decision. Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys.
I would highly recommend this firm and staff to everyone, they were great with my case.