Deciding when to settle ones Maryland car or truck accident case can be tricky. Often, in the modern age of aggressive insurance company tactics, you don't have a choice. The insurance companies simply offer so little that paying the outstanding medical bills and the attorney largely consumes the whole settlement offer! Why they do this is the subject of another article, but anyone who has recently had a claim against Geico, State Farm, Allstate or Nationwide knows what I am saying.
For the sake of this discussion we will assume that the circumstances of your case have yielded an offer that either you or your lawyer or both of you feel should be considered. The five factors we focus on are these.
1). How much insurance coverage exists for your case? Sadly, this is an important consideration because many victims of car and truck crashes find that the person who ran into them has limited insurance. A serious permanent injury with large medical expenses has no effect on how much coverage the other driver has. Unless you have uninsured motorist coverage that is greater than the other driver's liability coverage your best move may be to promptly accept the other driver's liability coverage and try and move on in life. Easy to say but not necessarily to do.
2). If the other driver has sufficient liability coverage or you have ample uninsured motorist coverage, the question becomes one of determining whether you will require additional medical care in order to reach maximum medical improvement. If you may need surgery down the road and you can afford to wait, you are far more likely to feel comfortable with your settlement if it covers all the treatment you need and ultimately receive.
3). In the same vein as #2, don't expect that the insurance company will pay you for surgery you haven't gotten. Many victims of car crashes hear from their orthopedic doctors that they may need some sort of surgical intervention down the road. Unfortunately, the insurance carriers don't care. That is why waiting to settle is important. The Maryland statute of limitations is generally three years in car and truck crash cases. If you believe you will need surgery and are putting it off (understandably) wait at least two years to see before settling.
4). Is your case together? What that means in legal terms is has your lawyer obtained: all your medical and therapy records along with their corresponding bills, all your lost wage or income information including a letter from your employer reflecting your time lost from work, pay stubs, previous years tax returns etc. and have they gotten statements from witnesses helpful to your side of the story? If any of these items are missing it may delay or reduce your settlement.
5). Is there something missing in your case that suppresses the evaluation of the insurance company and even your own lawyer? For example if you hurt your back in a crash and have hurt it before, sometimes providing records of that treatment will eliminate efforts on the insurance companies part to argue your present symptoms are from your earlier problem. If you injure a part of your body that you hurt before, the insurance company will find out through the insurance index.