You’re driving home from work one Thursday afternoon. Suddenly, another car plows into you from the side–sending you spinning into oncoming traffic. Miraculously, you survive–but the damage to your car and your person is considerable.

You’re taken to the hospital, and the full impact of the incident begins to sink in. You have a broken leg and collarbone. You’re in immense pain. And you’re left wondering who will pick up your kids from school–or how you’ll pay the bills while you’re out of work.

Shortly thereafter, you begin receiving calls from an insurance adjuster–trying to settle your claim. The adjuster offers you compensation to repair your car and cover the medical bills for your leg and collarbone. If this is the first time you’ve been in a serious accident, you may be tempted to accept the offer. But there are some important reasons you should hold off on making a deal–and let your lawyer negotiate a settlement for you.

Physical trauma

After an accident, some injuries will be readily apparent–such as broken bones and lacerations. However, other injuries may take a few days or even longer to present symptoms. Such is often the case with whiplash and internal bleeding. It’s important to allow adequate time for a thorough medical assessment before you accept a settlement offer. In addition, your compensation should cover not only the medical expenses for the injuries themselves, but also any adverse impact your injury will have on your life over the short and long terms. For instance, if the doctor estimates you will need six weeks to recover before you can return to work, then you should be compensated for your lost wages during this time.

Emotional trauma

A car accident doesn’t cause only physical damage to you and your property. A crash can also leave lasting emotional scars. Many car accident victims suffer from mental pain and suffering, including depression, anxiety and insomnia. Before agreeing to a settlement, it’s worthwhile to get a comprehensive psychological evaluation, which can support a claim for emotional distress damages.

It’s important to remember that an insurance adjuster works for the insurance company–and the insurance company’s main objective is to maximize its profits and minimize or even deny coverage for your injuries. To level the playing field, put an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. A skilled and knowledgeable attorney can effectively advocate on your behalf.