If you’ve been injured in an accident and you are filing for damages through insurance, you might feel pressured to accept their initial offer. Especially if the insurance company makes it clear that this offer is only open for a limited time, you might feel extra pressure to settle early and end your case, even if it means getting less than you deserve.
Generally, insurance offers should be left open for a reasonable time – but some offers do indeed come with deadlines to accept the offer. This is usually a tactic that insurance companies employ to try to pressure victims to accept a low offer and end their case quickly – and many injury victims are more than willing to do so because they need the money now. Instead, you should always consult with a lawyer who can negotiate with the insurance company and potentially get you a better settlement.
Contact our Maryland personal injury attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today at (410) 694-7291 for a free case review on your potential injury case.
Is There a Limited Time to Accept a Settlement from Insurance in Maryland?
How long a settlement offer remains open is dependent on the terms of the offer itself and the usual practices of the insurance company. Under Maryland law, it is permissible for insurance companies to leave an offer open-ended, allowing you to accept or reject it at your leisure. However, insurance companies might still reach out and communicate with you to pressure you to accept quickly or imply that the offer is only open for a limited time.
For an offer to have a deadline to accept it, it must be conveyed as part of the offer. Most offers are accompanied by a contract that functions as a release and a waiver. Accepting an offer usually means signing away your right to sue in court for additional damages, your right to appeal the settlement, and your right to file additional claims for the same conduct. Accepting an insurance settlement truly is the end of your case in most injury cases.
Why Do Insurance Companies Put Deadlines on Settlement Offers in Maryland?
It is always vital to have a Rockville personal injury lawyer review your case if you are given a settlement offer – especially if it comes with a deadline to accept. Often, insurance companies put deadlines on their offers in order to pressure victims into taking the money and ending their case. When they do this, it is often a sign that the settlement offer is bad and that you should not be accepting it, but it is difficult to tell without reviewing the specific facts and injuries in your case.
Insurance companies tend to try to settle cases quickly and cheaply so that they can be over and done with. If a case goes on longer, it means more time and attention that adjusters and attorneys need to spend on the case – which is more expensive for the insurance companies. If the case ends up going to court and losing in the end, that can be a lot more expensive for them as they now need to pay attorneys fees and other costs related to weeks or months of litigation. Filing quickly cuts down on all of these costs. In these cases, a quick settlement could actually end up being better for the victim since the insurance company will still save money by paying your full claim now rather than paying the same amount plus attorney’s fees after trial.
Insurance companies also seek to settle cheaply to protect their bottom line. The added pressure of a quick deadline on a settlement often pushes people who should not accept the settlement to accept it anyway. This helps insurance companies get away with low-dollar settlements that might miss out on areas of damages you should have been entitled to.
Insurance companies might also settle cases that they should be able to win rather than fighting the case. Even if they might win in the end, it might be cheaper to pay a small settlement now than to bother fighting in it court. Insurance companies will often cut their losses and push for quick acceptance of these “nuisance settlements,” as they are often called. A quick deadline again pressures plaintiffs to accept rather than fighting for higher damages.
Should I Accept a Settlement Offer with a Deadline in a Maryland Injury Claim?
Just because an offer has a deadline does not necessarily mean you need to accept it within the deadline. First of all, the offer is merely an offer – it can be negotiated and changed. You can make a counteroffer, or the insurance company can make a new, higher offer as the deadline approaches. Second, offers can be rejected entirely – and they often should be if they are too low to cover all of your needs.
Our Towson personal injury attorneys can help you decide if the offer in your case is sufficient to cover the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering in your case. If it is not, then you might want to delay. When an insurance company puts a deadline on their offer, it tells us more about what they want: a quick end. If we delay and delay as that deadline approaches, they might be more and more amenable to accepting a counteroffer or revising their offer to be higher.
If the deadline on a settlement offer passes by, that is not necessarily a problem. In most cases, we can still go to court and file your claim there if the insurance company is not willing to settle for the full value you need. The insurance company is always able to make a new offer if things move forward and they realize they are in the middle of a losing case.
In most cases, you do not have all of the information you need to make a fully informed decision about settlement until after the discovery stage. At this point, you will have access to depositions and evidence from the defendant, and both sides’ attorneys will have a better estimate of what your injuries are worth and what your chances of winning at trial look like. This, along with strategic negotiations, can lead to higher settlements or an award at trial.
Contact Our Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys Today
Contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 for a free case evaluation from our Baltimore personal injury lawyers.