top of page

Four Crucial Things to Know Before Settling Your Auto Accident Case

Auto accidents can leave a lasting impact on your life, causing disruption to your daily routine and filling your schedule with doctor appointments, vehicle repair estimates, therapy sessions, insurance company calls, and the challenging task of choosing a personal injury lawyer. Amidst the chaos, it can be tempting to accept a quick cash settlement from an insurance company to speed up the process of returning to normalcy. However, before accepting any settlement offer, it's crucial to know these four things:

  1. Rejecting a Settlement Offer Doesn't Mean You'll Get Nothing

Insurance companies often present settlement offers as "now or never" proposals, giving the impression that if you reject the offer, you will never receive any financial compensation in your case. This is far from the truth. As experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys, we understand that full compensation in a personal injury case is rarely if ever achieved through quick settlements. Furthermore, a settlement offer is just the beginning of a negotiation process with the insurance company, and initial offers are rarely firm.

The nearly universal truth is that quick settlements may be beneficial for insurance companies, but they are usually unfair for accident victims. Know before accepting any offer presented to you by an insurance company that you have the option to make a counter-offer or reject the offer altogether. In California, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit, and no law obligates you to respond to insurance company offers in the meantime.

2. Settlement Agreements are Final and Binding

Personal injury settlements often require signing a general release of liability, which holds the insurance company harmless from any additional payments beyond the agreed-upon settlement amount. It is crucial to understand the finality and binding nature of these agreements before committing to a settlement.

Once a settlement is accepted and the release of liability is signed, there is no possibility of requesting additional compensation in the future or pursuing the case in court. This is true even if the extent of the injuries turns out to be more serious than initially anticipated, unforeseen complications arise, or the claim's value was not fully comprehended at the time of the agreement.

Given the irreversible nature of settlements, it is essential to exercise caution and gather all relevant information before agreeing to a settlement. Rushing into a settlement without a comprehensive understanding of the situation may lead to unfavorable outcomes and a lack of recourse for any future issues related to the personal injury claim.

3. Your Injuries Could Be Much More Serious Than They Seem

People often assume they will immediately know the nature and extent of their injuries after an accident. However, the full extent of your injuries may not be apparent for a long time, particularly if your injuries involve the spine. Spinal injuries are notorious for how long they take to appear and fully develop. What may seem like a small “tweak” could wind up being a herniated disc that never heals and causes pain for the rest of your life.

Before accepting a settlement, it's vital to undergo appropriate diagnostics to determine the specific nature of the harm that you suffered. It is also important to understand how your injuries will impact your current and future employment opportunities, mobility, overall health, quality of life, and any ongoing care or treatment required.

You should avoid accepting settlement offers before reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is the point in your recovery when a doctor determines that your condition is unlikely to improve further. Settling before MMI could result in accepting an offer that doesn't adequately address the long-term impact of your injuries.

4. Your Total Damages Are More Than Simply Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Insurance company settlement offers often address the most apparent expenses incurred due to an accident, such as repair costs, immediate wage loss, and medical bills not covered by other insurance policies. However, these offers frequently fail to consider the complete impact of the accident. To ensure that you receive the appropriate compensation, it is vital to consult with a seasoned personal injury attorney who can identify and present evidence for additional losses that warrant compensation.

These additional losses may encompass a range of expenses and impacts, such as the need for alternate transportation, hiring assistance for household tasks, outstanding medical expenses, future medical care and therapy, lost income, potential future earnings loss, mental health treatment, pain and suffering, emotional or psychological trauma, and diminished enjoyment of life activities.


Grasping the true extent of your claim and the compensation it should encompass is crucial for determining the fairness of a settlement offer. It is highly recommended to seek the guidance of a personal injury attorney before agreeing to any offer made by an insurance company. This ensures that your best interests are safeguarded and that you receive the rightful compensation for all aspects of your personal injury case.


bottom of page