Hergott: Don’t be pressured into settling an injury lawsuit

I can’t tell you how many people have expressed regret about settling a claim prematurely.

You can’t unscramble an egg and you can’t “un–settle” a personal injury claim.

I can’t tell you how many people have expressed regret about settling a claim prematurely.

They typically lament about how young and misinformed they had been, accepting a lowball offer, essentially compensating them for a temporary injury, for an injury that turned out to be permanent.

The medical system is always optimistic about a full recovery. That optimism is often very well placed.

Many people do enjoy a complete recovery from motor vehicle collision injuries.

Those people are well served by accepting fair compensation for a temporary injury and putting their legal claims behind them. Unfortunately, some injuries never fully recover.

I’m not just talking about serious orthopedic injuries that require plates and screws. I’m talking about standard, run-of-the-mill whiplash type soft tissue injuries. I’m talking about the kinds of injuries that don’t even surface until you wake up the next morning seized up in pain.

There may well be excellent progress in the early stages. Range of motion might be fully restored and symptoms significantly eased.

For whatever reason, though, a complete recovery is not achieved.

Symptoms linger. Functional limitations are never fully overcome.

But you can’t “take back” a settlement if you have accepted fair compensation for a temporary injury that turns out to be permanent.

My advice, therefore, is always to wait.

There is no rush to settle your claim. Yes, there is an ultimate deadline, typically two years after a crash, within which a personal injury claim must be either settled or paperwork filed with the local court registry to preserve your claim.

This is usually plenty of time, though, to determine whether injuries will be temporary or permanent.

I have recently been consulted by a person who was injured in a summer, 2012, collision.

He reported good recovery from his injuries with minimal ongoing symptoms.

I recommended that he wait at least until next summer before considering negotiating a settlement of his claim.

Waiting through the winter months will allow him to test his recovery through the snow shoveling and ski/snowboard season.

Waiting through the spring will allow for testing through the heavier physical activities of spring cleaning and gardening.

Waiting into the summer months will allow him to test his recovery through the fun summer activities as well.

With such a good recovery after three to four months, the prospect of waiting another eight to nine months might seem excessive.

But what’s the rush? If you have been offered fair compensation for a temporary injury, and it turns out eight or nine months later that indeed the injury 100 per cent completely resolved, then you can pull the trigger on the settlement at that time.

On the other hand, if it turns out that your injury does not fully resolve, and that you are left with a permanent injury, then fair compensation is likely multiple times the amount you have been offered for a temporary injury.

You will be able to insist on that much higher fair compensation, commensurate with the much more significant impact that a permanent injury will have on you over the course of your lifetime.

And don’t worry about the insurance company giving you a deadline to accept whatever low-ball offer they have put on the table—it’s a negotiation tactic as old as the hills that I confidently advise you to ignore.

Just Posted

UBCO Heat teams unable to secure any wins against Mount Royal Cougars

The mens and womens volleyball and basketball teams went 0-4, but all have rematches Saturday night

Rockets held scoreless in loss against Red Deer

Rockets will look for some points in final game of road trip against Edmonton

New maintenance crew to look after Okanagan Connector

Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc. will replace Argo Road Maintenance Inc. in 2019

New Lake Country arts council to request funds from district

The arts council will ask the district for $8,000 from 2019 to 2021

Your guide to winter light ups around the Okanagan

From Vernon to Summerland, with a stop in Kelowna, we’ve found some activities for you to enjoy

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Hodge: The long road to recovery

Kelowna - The first week of recovery I was too consumed in pain to notice the lack of fluid.

LETTER: Plea from a Kelowna school bus driver to slow down

‘I am proud to be a school bus driver…’

Letter: Election loss in Kelowna blamed on racism

For decades I have written in the local press about racism.

Most Read