Example of an early first offer to settle a personal injury claim
Say you are knocked off your bike by a car.
Your left leg and left elbow are badly bruised and you have some light pain in your lower back. You’re a bit shaken up. But nothing is broken. You take 2 days off work to let the pain ease.
A week after the accident, you get a call from the defendant’s insurance company. They’re going to make you a very generous offer – in full and final settlement
of any claim you might make.
You’re surprised, because you haven’t even got round to contacting a solicitor yet, never mind making a claim. In fact, if everything got better, you probably wouldn’t have bothered making a claim at all.
The amount of money on offer is surprising too. Very tempting. But there’s a catch. The insurance company tells you that the offer is only available right now – if you don’t accept it now, they’ll withdraw it.
So you accept, sign a few forms, and in less than a week, the money is in your bank account. Sweet!
2 months later, your leg and elbow are fully healed. You wish you could say the same about your back though. Far from getting better, it’s getting worse. You decide to see a specialist. She advises you that you have serious soft tissue damage in your back.
You’ll need to see a physiotherapist for treatment. And you’ll need to give it at least 6 weeks of full rest to heal. That means no working, no driving, no shopping, no playing with the kids, nothing. 6 weeks of total downtime.
The original offer you got from the insurance company seemed good when you only needed 2 days off work. When it turns out you’re taking 6 weeks off work and you need to see a physiotherapist – well, it wasn’t such a great offer after all!
And what if your back isn’t better after 6 weeks? What if you go back to work and it flares up again?
You ring the insurance company tell them that circumstances have changed. You’ll need to top up the compensation payment to take account of what has happened.
The insurance company politely reminds you that the compensation you accepted was “in full and final settlement
” of any claim. What happens after you accept the offer is your problem.
As far as they are concerned, the case is closed and that’s the end of it.