Don’t Let COVID-19 Force You Into a Bad Settlement
To Accident Victims During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Don’t Let COVID-19 Force You Into a Bad Settlement
If the economic pressures from the coronavirus outbreak are forcing you into accepting less money than you deserve for an accident or injury claim, here are two options – funding loans and a free offer evaluation – that may be better for your family now and in the long run.
For so many of us, the world has changed in drastic ways we never expected since the coronavirus turned into a worldwide pandemic.
When looking at quarantines and social distancing measures, tracking case totals and death tolls and whether the “curve” is getting any flatter, it’s easy for many to forget that life goes on. Although the COVID-19 crisis may have brought upon us all new struggles and fears, the very real problems people faced before coronavirus reared its ugly head here in New Jersey didn’t disappear. If anything, they got even harder to solve.
As attorneys, we’re thinking daily of the struggles our clients – people hurt in accidents that weren’t their fault – encounter on a regular basis. These problems are physical, emotional, and financial. The current pandemic has compounded the challenges they’re already facing:
Getting care is harder than ever, with non-urgent medical facilities closing or reducing their hours.
The isolation of social distancing can make it harder to cope with the feelings of sadness, frustration, and anxiety about the future that are already common when you’ve been in a serious accident.
And, financially, the collapse of the economy is adding even more pressure. Perhaps the accident victim on light duty is now entirely out of work as employers have reduced their staff, or the spouse who is still able to work has been furloughed or laid off. Sheer timing has made a bad situation worse, leaving families desperate.
People with serious injuries are signing away their legal rights.
We’re seeing a trend coming out of this situation that worries us. People with very serious injuries are making the big mistake of signing away their legal rights for a quick insurance payout that’s worth only a fraction of what they deserve for their injuries.
Their medical bills, future medical costs, and lost income add up to tens of thousands of dollars, even $100,000 or more. But the current economic crisis is so bad that they’re agreeing to accept just a few thousand bucks if it means they can get that money sooner.
Maybe you’re in this same situation and think you have no other options left. Here’s what our firm wants you to know – before you sign away your future.
You’re Better Off Getting a “Lawsuit Loan” Than Accepting a Lowball Settlement
Your insurance adjuster tells you, “This is the best offer we can give you.” It doesn’t come anywhere close to paying for even the medical bills you’ve already gotten, much less the procedures or surgeries your doctor has warned could be in your future. But given the current crisis, you might think it’s better to take that offer – and at least be able to pay your rent or mortgage for this month – than to fight it. Perhaps you have even considered hiring a lawyer, but the insurance adjuster told you an attorney will only drag out the process.
It’s true that bringing a claim with an attorney won’t get you that immediate payout. If you really do need money right away, though, one option you have is to get a funding advance on a lawsuit.
There are several companies that offer these advances, in which you’re basically borrowing money against your expected settlement. You can use this money for whatever you need – housing costs, food and essentials, utilities, and any other bills that you’re struggling to pay.
Funding loans generally need not be repaid if your lawsuit is not successful. That said, it’s very important to look at the details of these funding loans and to compare the terms offered by different litigation financing companies. You need to be aware of what you’re getting into and choose the offer that has the fewest drawbacks.
To be clear, we generally don’t recommend getting a funding advance. The interest rates on pre-settlement funding loans tend to be high, and that cuts into the amount of money you eventually receive from your settlement.
But even with those high interest rates, you’re likely to walk away with a lot more money in your pocket by bringing a claim with an attorney and getting a funding advance than by settling your claim directly with the insurance company for a tiny fraction of what your real damages are.
Remember, that quick payout may seem like what you need in the short-term, but what about next month’s bills? What about the month after that, and the month after that? What about the costs of that future surgery you may need, once the pandemic has ended and medical facilities are doing routine procedures again?
People are struggling financially right now, but making the wrong choice could mean struggling financially for years. Once the economy bounces back – which it will, sooner or later – your injuries won’t magically go away. Those medical costs will still be there. And you’ll be on the hook for every last dollar, because you’ve already released the insurance company from its responsibilities by accepting that small sum it offered you.
Have Your Insurance Settlement Offer Evaluated for Free by an Attorney
If you’re seriously considering an insurance company’s offer to quickly settle your claim, there’s one last thing we want you to think about before you sign anything: Wouldn’t it be better to know for sure if you’re getting the money you deserve?
In a survey we conducted earlier this year, nearly 30 percent of respondents – not accident victims, but the general public – reported feeling that they have been taken advantage of by an insurance company.
Console, Richard. Console and Associates, P.C. “2020 Public Perception of Attorneys, Insurance Companies & Lawsuits.” Powered by Survey Monkey.
Those occasions when insurance companies take advantage of claimants and policyholders are inevitably the same occasions when the company should be paying out claims. One of the primary ways insurers mistreat claimants is by offering them much lower settlements than they deserve. In the legal industry, we call this a “lowball settlement.”
Although this practice is common at all times, our firm has seen some particularly egregious instances lately. At the very time people most need fair compensation, an insurance company offered one of the accident victims who reached out to us just a few thousand dollars for their claim. We knew that their serious injuries warranted far more – quite possibly an amount in the six-figure range.
If this individual hadn’t reached out for a professional opinion, it could have changed their life forever. That tiny payout offered by the insurer wasn’t even close to enough to compensate them for the medical bills and lost wages. They may never have been able to reach their full physical recovery, all because of an insurance company’s greed.
We don’t want this to happen to anyone. Please, before you sign something from the insurance company, give us a call.
We’ll gladly review your situation and the offer the insurer has made you, completely free, and give you our professional opinion on what your claim might be worth.
For a list of resources available to help New Jersey residents through the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.
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