myself and my son (4yo) where involved in a car accident and got rear ended. we both went to the er for whiplash. my car was in the repair shop for 2 days while i had a rental car. the insurance co is now offering a settlement for myself and son. how do i know if it is a fair amount? (minus dr bills and repair bill) i don't expect either one of us to need the dr again and it has been about a month since the accident. my son does have special needs though and can;t speak. should i keep the claim open?
Estate Planning Attorney
This is the latest tactic of the insurance companies - very aggressively offering money early on after an accident and making you feel pressured to settle. I explained this very thoroughly in a response to another person. You can read that response here: http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/when-or-should-i-hire-a-lawyer-in-an-automobile-ac-616874.html#answer_987193
You have up to 2 years from the date of the accident to try to settle the case or file a lawsuit. The state of limitations is 2 years for accidents in the State of Oregon - it may be different if the accident was in another state. You son, would have longer than two years to settle his case because he is a minor child.
There is no reason not to go see a lawyer. In my experience all lawyers will give you a free consultation about car accidents, myself included. If you decide to let of us represent you, we will have you sign an agreement that allows us to take a percentage of the final payout when the case is over so you don't pay us any money upfront. Depending on the case you might be asked to pay expenses involved, like hiring an investigator, or hiring experts at trial, but many times attorneys will front those costs for you as well.
Bottom line - don't hesitate to get professional legal help, but do shop for the right attorney for your case by maybe talking to a couple before you decide.
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You do not have to accept the settlement. Often the first offer is just that, a first offer. I suggest you consult with an experienced local personal injury attorney. Good Luck
Personal Injury Lawyer
You don't need to accept the settlement offer. Chances are, if you are attempting to negotiate with the insurer on your own, the offer is probably too low. You should speak with a personal injury attorney in your area. An attorney will be able to tell you what your claim is worth. I would not go it alone, even if you feel that your injuries are relatively minor. Good luck.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
I agree with what has already been said by the other attorneys who responded.
My experience is that you rarely, if ever, get a fair offer without representation. However, deciding to hire an attorney is a very personal decision. Shop around and talk to some attorneys and then decide how you wish to proceed. The bottom line is that you cannot make a decision about whether to seek representation without talking to some lawyers to get an idea and their opinion about your situation. The right lawyer should be up front with you about what to expect though there is no way to guarantee any particular result.
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