Question from Sherlynn Mehtlan, What to Do If an Insurance Settlement Offer Is Too Low?
Answer from AI:
If your client has been injured in an accident while riding an MTA bus and the insurance offer from the party at fault seems insufficient, there are several steps that can be taken to seek a more appropriate settlement. It’s important to understand that insurance companies often start with a low initial offer, and negotiating for a fair amount is a common part of the claims process.
Steps to Take After a Low Insurance Offer
- Do Not Accept the Initial Offer: Advise your client not to accept or agree to the initial offer if it does not cover their medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Accepting the offer may prevent them from negotiating for more compensation later.
- Document Everything: Ensure that your client has documented all medical treatments, expenses, and any other losses related to the accident. This includes medical records, receipts, and a detailed account of the incident.
- Calculate Damages: Help your client calculate the total amount of damages, including current and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other relevant costs.
- Communicate in Writing: Encourage your client to communicate with the insurance company in writing. This provides a record of all correspondence and helps avoid misunderstandings.
- Counteroffer: Your client can make a counteroffer that more accurately reflects the damages they have suffered. This should be supported by the documentation gathered.
- Consult a Personal Injury Attorney: If negotiations are not successful, it may be necessary to consult with a personal injury attorney who can provide legal advice tailored to your client’s situation and potentially represent them in further negotiations or legal proceedings.
Who to Contact for Help
- Personal Injury Lawyers: An attorney who specializes in personal injury law can offer guidance and representation. They can negotiate with the insurance company on your client’s behalf and, if necessary, file a lawsuit to pursue fair compensation.
- Legal Aid Societies: If your client cannot afford a private attorney, they may seek assistance from legal aid societies that offer free or low-cost legal services to those who qualify.
- State Bar Association: The local state bar association can provide referrals to qualified personal injury attorneys and may have resources for those seeking legal help.
Considerations Before Taking Legal Action
Before your client decides to take legal action, it’s important to consider the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in their jurisdiction. This is the time limit within which they must file a lawsuit, and it varies by state. Additionally, if the accident involved a public transit authority like the MTA, there may be specific notice requirements and shorter time frames for filing a claim.
It is crucial for your client to seek personalized legal advice to understand their rights and the best course of action. A lawyer can help evaluate the strength of the case, navigate the complexities of dealing with government entities, and work to secure a settlement that adequately compensates for your client’s injuries and losses.
For more information on personal injury claims and finding legal assistance, your client can visit the USA.gov State Consumer website for resources and contact information for consumer protection offices, which may also offer guidance on dealing with insurance claims and legal disputes.