We always caution injured workers to be smart when it comes to taking a settlement offer from the insurance company. Usually, our warning is that the offer is probably too low and that the insurer is taking advantage. A recent call we received was a good reminder that sometimes the offer is good and if you don’t take it, you could end up regretting it.
An injured worker called us because he wasn’t happy with the settlement offer he received from the insurance company for $325,000. You’re probably thinking that sounds like a pretty good offer. We thought so too. And as we talked to him further, we realized that it was actually a great offer, and one that he should accept quickly.
It takes a lot of experience to evaluate a settlement offer and know whether a client should be advised to accept or whether he or she should go to trial. Once you’ve done this dozens or even hundreds of times, you develop a good grasp of how the insurance companies work, how trial can be used to increase a recovery, and how much a case should be worth. You should never accept or decline a settlement offer without consulting with someone who knows how to value a case.
In the case of the worker who called us, our experience told us that he might lose at trial because the insurance company had a possible defense, which is that he may not have given his employer notice within the required 45 days. This could make his case worth $0 if he goes to trial. That’s quite a risk. Sometimes, going to trial is the only way to get the full value of your case. There’s always the risk that you could lose, and you have to weigh it against the potential reward.
The lesson here is that you need the right lawyer to properly evaluate your case. You need someone who knows the arbitrator and can tell you how that arbitrator is likely to decide such a case. In some instances, a settlement offer can be pulled. It’s not common, but it can happen. The guy who called us may have come close to ruining his case. Hopefully, he gets a good lawyer on his side right away.