The days and weeks after an accident can be confusing and chaotic. You may be in pain, unable to work, and worried about your financial situation. This is when a settlement offer from the at-fault party’s insurance company can be tempting.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are not in the business of paying more than they have to. In fact, they often try to settle claims early on in order to take advantage of your financial struggles. This means the first offer will likely be much less than you deserve. However, what happens if you decline the offer? How long will it take to receive another one, or will you receive another one?
Some accident victims will accept an offer shortly after the accident believing that they have no other options. However, this is not the case.
Working with a personal injury lawyer from Nelson Personal Injury, LLC will ensure you understand your rights, and you are not taken advantage of by an unscrupulous insurance company.. You will also have an experienced advocate negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf. With the help of an attorney, you can ensure that you receive the full compensation you are entitled to under the law.
Understanding the Basics of an Insurance Settlement
An insurance settlement is an offer made by the insurance company to compensate the injured party for their damages. These offers should come after a detailed injury claim analysis, including factors like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
However, insurance companies are in the business of making profits. Because of this, they may often attempt to settle the claim for as little as possible, as early as possible, before you know the full nature and extent of your injuries and damages. This means that the initial offer they present might not truly reflect the full value of your damages, as mentioned above.
The Right to Decline an Offer
In Minnesota, you are not obligated to accept an insurance settlement offer. You can decline and continue negotiations at a later date when you have a better picture of your injuries and damages or even pursue your claim in court by starting a lawsuit.
But what are the repercussions?
Potential Outcomes of Refusing a Settlement Offer
A few things may happen if you decline an offer from the insurance company. Your personal injury lawyer can help you better understand these things.
When the initial insurance settlement offer is often declined, the insurance company may come back with another offer, which could be higher or lower than their previous offer. They will often ask you to present a demand amount for which you would be willing to settle the case. This back-and-forth negotiation can continue until both parties reach an agreeable amount.
Having an attorney handle negotiations on your behalf is recommended. Insurance companies often use tactics you may not be aware of to get you to settle before the true value of your claim is reached. They would like nothing more than to settle a claim shortly after the accident before the full nature and extent of the injuries are known. Your attorney will ensure this does not happen.
Going to Trial
If negotiations stall and you believe the insurance company isn’t offering a fair amount, the next step could be taking the matter to court. Pursuing a trial might result in a higher payout, but it also comes with risks. Trials can be lengthy and costly, and there’s no guarantee of victory.
Your attorney will give their honest opinion on if they believe your case will be successful at trial. No lawyer can tell the future, but they should be able to advise you on the potential pros and cons of each course of action. You can use this information to determine whether you want to proceed with a trial.
Mediation or Arbitration
Minnesota laws also provide for alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or arbitration. These so called “alternative dispute resolution” processes involve a neutral third party helping the disputing parties reach a resolution. They can be faster and less expensive than a trial. In a mediation, a neutral mediation helps facilitate settlement discussions between the parties. A mediator has no power to make a decision or force parties to accept or offer a certain amount of money. On the other hand, arbitrators have binding authority to resolve a case. They can decide questions of liability and damages. Mediation and arbitration each have their benefits and drawbacks, and you should discuss these with your lawyer before proceeding with such an option.
Expiration of the Statute of Limitations
It’s essential to be aware that Minnesota has a specific time frame during which you can file a lawsuit for a personal injury claim. If you decline an insurance settlement offer and fail to either settle or file a lawsuit before this period expires, you might lose the right to pursue compensation. What statute of limitations applies in your case will depend on the type of claim you have.
Minnesota Laws to Consider
In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims based on negligence is six years from the date of the injury. However, specific scenarios, such as medical malpractice, wrongful death, injuries caused by intentional wrongdoing, or claims against government entities, might have different limitations periods.
The state’s “modified comparative negligence” rule may also affect your settlement. This means your compensation may be reduced if you’re found to be partially at fault for the injury. For example, if you’re 20% at fault and your damages amount to $100,000, you might only receive $80,000.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Given the complexities of the injury claim process and Minnesota-specific laws, having a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is invaluable. An attorney can assess the strength of your claim, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure you make informed decisions at every step.
Deciding whether to accept or decline an insurance settlement offer is a significant decision. In Minnesota, while you have the right to reject an offer, it’s crucial to understand the potential outcomes and implications of your injury claim. By familiarizing yourself with state laws and seeking expert legal advice, you can ensure you take the best steps toward fair compensation.
For assistance negotiating with the insurance company and receiving a fair settlement, call our personal injury lawyers at Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, to schedule a free consultation.