Car Accident Settlements: What Do I Need to Know?
Car Accident Settlements: What Do I Need to Know?
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Car Accident Settlements: What Do I Need to Know?
If you suffer from one or more injuries caused by the negligence of another driver, you might qualify to receive monetary damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Even if the vehicle collision turned out to be an accident, you have the right to seek compensation by submitting the right documentation with an insurance claim. A car accident settlement, through your insurance company or with the attorney representing the other party, covers the costs of medical bills, property damage, and the wages lost because you cannot work.
The car accident settlement process involves much more than simply filing a claim with your insurance company (or the other party’s insurer if the other party committed one or more acts of negligence). You can expect a thorough investigation conducted by an insurance adjuster, as well as the other party’s attorney if your case goes to trial. If an investigation conducted by your attorney and the other party’s insurance company or legal representative finds some common ground, then the car accident settlement process reaches the negotiation phase.
Whether you file a lawsuit or an insurance claim, you need the legal support of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Since 1988, the personal injury attorneys at Morgan & Morgan have helped clients recover more than $15 billion in compensation through favorable judgments and settlements. When you search for the best personal injury lawyer, you want to work with one who is skilled at litigating personal injury lawsuits, as well as negotiating favorable settlements that keep cases out of the judicial system.
Learn more about how Morgan & Morgan skillfully negotiates favorable settlements for our clients by scheduling a free case evaluation.
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How Do I Determine Fault for a Car Accident Case?
The first step in the car accident settlement process is to determine which party caused the auto collision. After a detailed investigation conducted by multiple parties, the outcome might be neither party is held legally liable for causing the car crash. You should follow four steps to help you determine fault for a car accident case.
Call Law Enforcement
Not every motor vehicle collision requires a call to 911, but you should contact a law enforcement agency for even the most minor injuries. After investigating the scene of the crash, the law enforcement agency conducting the investigation releases the official police report. The official police report contains all the evidence required to determine legal liability. Your personal injury attorney reviews the official police report before deciding the best course of legal action.
Take Photographs of the Accident Scene
Although the official police report contains photos of the accident scene, you also should take photos to make sure you gather all the evidence needed to submit a persuasive insurance claim. You should focus on the damage done to your vehicle, as photographs can provide insight for the insurance adjuster to calculate a value for property damages. Small details such as tire marks and paint scratches can indicate whether the other party committed one or more acts of negligence.
Speak With Witnesses
The goal when speaking with witnesses is to collect contact information to allow your legal counsel to interview each witness. You can ask for accounts of what happened before, during, and after the accident, but you want to ensure your attorney has the contact information for each witness. Witness accounts support the physical evidence collected at the scene of the car accident. For example, a few witnesses might claim the other driver swerved before making contact with your vehicle, which the direction of the tire marks confirms.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Contacting a personal injury attorney is crucial in your pursuit to reach a car accident settlement. A lawyer helps you file all the paperwork required by state law before the expiration of the statute of limitations. You also want to reach out to a personal injury lawyer with a sense of urgency to ensure every witness account remains accurate. Waiting to interview witnesses can lead to inconsistent statements.
What Is the Car Accident Settlement Process?
Negotiating a favorable settlement requires your personal injury lawyer to follow a series of steps. The goal is to reach a reasonable value that both parties sign off on to end the car accident settlement process.
Calculate a Value for Your Claim
Before your legal counsel contacts the other party’s legal representation, your attorney must first calculate a fair value that helps you recover costs such as medical expenses and property damage. Your lawyer analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of your case, which plays a factor in predicting how a judge or jury will rule at the conclusion of a civil trial.
Send a Demand Letter
Sending a demand letter to your insurance company or the other party’s legal counsel starts the process for negotiating a car accident settlement. The letter includes a detailed description of the auto collision, including the mention of evidence and witness accounts. As the most important section of a demand letter, your personal injury lawyer explains how you calculated the proposed settlement value.
Back and Forth
Whether negotiations take place with your insurance company or the other party’s legal counsel, you can expect at least one round of counteroffers. Typically both sides involved in the car accident settlement process make multiple counteroffers. If your personal injury attorney cannot find common ground with your insurance company or the other party’s lawyer, then the next step involves filing a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages for your injuries.
What Factors Influence the Amount of a Car Accident Settlement?
Settlements reached for car accident cases do not follow a template for calculating value. Your personal injury attorney considers several variables that your insurance company or the other party’s lawyers considers as well.
The Number of Legally Liable Parties
When you think about an auto collision, you probably think about a crash with just one other motor vehicle. However, you might get involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle or in a collision that involves multiple cars. Your attorney has to investigate every possible claim option that can end in a settlement.
The severity of Your Injuries
The more severe your injury or injuries, the more money you can expect to receive with a car accident settlement. For example, rehabilitating from a spinal injury costs much more than recovering from a sprained wrist. Some auto collisions can require a victim to receive treatment and undergo physical therapy sessions for several years or even a lifetime.
Consistency of Treatments
Any gaps in the treatment of your injuries might result in a lower settlement value. You have to demonstrate you have received consistent medical care since the date of the auto accident. If you miss appointments or wait too long for treatments, the other party’s attorney or your insurance company might claim your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
Length of Treatment
The ideal car accident settlement occurs when the victim has completed treatment and physical therapy sessions. The longer you receive medical care, the more money your personal injury attorney will ask for during the car accident settlement process. You must avoid the temptation to finish your treatment program and rehabilitation sessions before the date recommended by your physician just to receive a settlement check.
When you hire Morgan & Morgan to handle your car accident case, you do not have to pay any upfront legal fees. We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid when you get paid. However, you still have to account for the percentage of money taken out of your settlement check to ensure you receive fair value for your injuries.
What Does a Car Accident Settlement Check Cover?
The value calculated for a car accident settlement is similar to the value of the monetary damages your lawyer asks for during a civil lawsuit.
Special Compensatory Damages
Also called economic damages, special compensatory damages cover your medical expenses, such as diagnostic tests, treatment programs, and physical therapy sessions. Your car accident settlement check also should cover the cost of assistive devices, prescription drugs, and an estimate of future medical expenses. You should ask for money to cover the cost of repairing property damage and to make up for lost wages.
General Compensatory Damages
The negotiations for a car accident settlement can break down when the time comes to discuss general compensatory damages, which are considered non-economic damages by the judicial system. Non-economic damages do not come with a price tag, which means your personal injury lawyer must come with a reasonable value to cover the non-economic costs of mental anguish, acute anxiety, and emotional distress.
Punitive damages do not cover economic and non-economic costs. Instead, punitive damages penalize the other party for committing one or more acts of negligence. Your lawyer will not consider punitive damages while negotiating a car accident settlement with your insurance company. However, your personal injury attorney will factor in punitive damages when negotiating a settlement with the other party’s lawyer. This is because a judge or jury has the power to award punitive damages for personal injury lawsuits.
What if My Insurance Company Makes an Insulting Offer?
The last thing you want after a car accident that caused you harm is to receive a ridiculously low claim offer from your insurance company. Even if you have taken a huge hit financially, you should not panic and accept the first offer made by your insurer. One of the accomplished personal injury attorneys at Morgan & Morgan will insist on negotiating a fair car accident settlement until you receive an offer that takes care of your expenses.
Never settle for less than what you deserve.
Contact Morgan & Morgan Today
The clock has started ticking on your personal injury claim. Be proactive and reach out to one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. Morgan & Morgan has established a reputation for negotiating fair car accident settlements for our clients. During our first meeting, a car accident lawyer reviews the evidence and official police report to determine how to proceed with your case.
Schedule a free case evaluation today with a personal injury attorney from Morgan & Morgan to get the ball rolling on your personal injury claim.