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The adjuster keeps sending me a release.

The adjuster keeps sending me a release to settle my car accident claim. Do I need a lawyer?

- L.K, California


Insurance adjusters often send releases for low ball settlement offers early on after an accident. They will send you the same release over and over. The adjuster is hoping that you will be seduced by the lure of quick cash, and sign the release before you talk to an attorney and learn the real value of your case.

Don't take the bait. Talk to an attorney before you sign the release. Personal injury lawyers provide free consultations, so there is no reason not to run it by an attorney.

The danger is that your case is worth substantially more than the insurance company is offering. If the accident happened recently, you may still be receiving medical treatment or still be recovering. Your injuries may not be fully diagnosed. You may have no idea if you will need future treatment, and what future treatment could cost.

Once you sign that release – that's it. There's no going back for more money. If in six months or a year from now, your back or knee is still hurting, and you want the insurance company to pay for more medical treatment, it's too late.

So before you settle, it's critically important that a doctor has diagnosed all of your injuries caused by the accident, and that you know the estimated cost of all medical care you will need in the future. If the future medical care will also require you to miss time from work, your future lost earnings need to be included in the settlement amount. The settlement should also compensate you for your pain and suffering from the date of the accident to the present, and your future pain and suffering, until the time that you fully recover from your injuries.

If you were hit by a drunk driver, you may not realize that you are entitled to make a claim for punitive damages, which could add tremendous value to your claim.

Talk to an attorney before you sign a release. Our car accident lawyers are happy to give you free advice on whether the settlement offer the adjuster is making is reasonable. If we think it's a reasonable offer that you should accept, we'll tell you that. If we think the offer's too low, but your case is too small for us to take, we'll give you free advice on how you can increase the value of your case to wrangle a better offer from the adjuster on your own.

A Pasadena car accident lawyer at our firm is available 24/7 to provide a free consultation.

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