After a serious accident or injury, insurance money is the golden green light at the end of the hospital stay. Mounting bills, mounting new emails and mounting painful side effects leave many families and/or individuals struggling to return to normalcy.

However, no one’s there to hand you a check once released from the hospital. So how much longer will you wait?

Insurance companies tend to work one of two ways.

Scenario one: Insurance adjusters are seemingly speeding through your case, faster than the car rear-ended you. In more serious accidents, some insurance companies are known to send insurance adjusters straight to the accident scene to begin their internal investigation.

Attorney Tip: The first offer is almost always lower than deserved. While accepting this offer is the quickest way to put money in your pocket, it’s likely (especially for more serious accidents) in exchange for a full release leaving you with any and all unforeseen medical bills and car repairs.

Scenario two: Insurance companies send out a lowball offer, but you’re smart enough to negotiate. Unfortunately, but to little surprise, insurance companies are not above dragging out negotiations in hopes of wearing people down while elongating the amount of time with no settlement payout.

Attorney Tip: It’s okay to know when your offer isn’t acceptable. But if you’re seriously injured, missing work and/or don’t have time to properly navigate the negotiations process, it’s wise and financially smart (when compared to simply accepting the lowball offer) to hire a car accident or insurance claim denials attorney.

As the need for attorney tips suggests, filing an insurance claim requires time, diligence and perhaps the hardest part of all, patience. And while focused on recovery, all three aspects are asked of people at a most inconvenient time.

To find the best route for you based on your injuries, examine the information and tips provided below by Irvine personal injury attorney Daniel Callahan.

“It can be tempting to settle for the first offer, especially if you’re feeling desperate for cash, “ Daniel Callahan tells clients. “[But] your insurance company is a business: this means it’s committed to paying out as little as possible.”

If a victim accepts the initial quick offer, the insurance companies ensure they are no longer liable for future pains- on the car and more importantly, the person- through a full release. And while you’ll get your money within 30-45 days from signing the agreement, they have some ulterior motives.

First, adrenaline is typically released when in an accident, which easily masks pain while also making you feel more energized and stronger. However, once you’re able to calm down the adrenaline fades and the pain breaks through. In addition, many serious injuries don’t appear for weeks or even months after an accident- slow, internal bleeding; brain bleeding; herniated discs; etc.

Unfortunately, if you’ve already signed an agreement, you’ll be left figuring out how to pay these “surprise” bills. Before agreeing with any offer, check-in with a medical professional.

Now let’s assume you’ve denied their first offer and are receiving medical treatments for related injuries. You may notice the insurance adjuster is no longer promptly answering calls and passing out papers in need of a signature. And it’s not just because an accurate agreement can’t be reached until maximum medical improvement, though true (and necessary to remember).

Some people will go through multiple offers; each time the insurance company must draft new contracts, get approval and re-offer it to you. The insurance adjuster is now an investigator, pouring over the details of the accident and the injuries looking for loopholes or claim denial opportunities. If you’ve reached this stage, it will surely be months, possibly years before an agreement is signed and a check is mailed.

Serious injuries deserve proper compensation which requires a personal injury attorney who specializes in accidents and dealing with insurance companies. Some injury attorneys are also former insurance defense lawyers, potentially providing an advantageous perspective for their clients.

Injury attorneys will takeover dealing with the insurance company’s attorneys, re-investigate the accident on their own, call in contacts and expert witnesses and eventually help prove proof of liability and damages. Simply put, they’ll handle this lengthy, exhausting process of negotiations.  

From a money perspective, an attorney may become your best ally-despite the fees. They’ll help resist the urge to take low settlements while simultaneously removing a small percentage of stress from your recovery. At the very least, all victims attempting to negotiate with insurance companies should speak with an insurance lawyer in a free consultation.

From here, minor injuries could take a few months to reach an agreement while serious injuries may take years. If the case goes to court, time frames heavily depend on the court system, their schedules and availability of expert witnesses.

But by now the golden green light is greener than ever. Once a deal is made, insurance companies have a limited amount of time to disburse the funds, generally 30 to 45 days. And while it may be hard to resist the first offer, it’s well worth the awful wait.