Settling a Car Accident Claim
If you suffered injuries in a car accident that resulted from negligence, you might be eligible to recover various damages. However, if you do not have a car accident lawyer representing you during settlement negotiations or litigation, the insurance company will take advantage of you.
Without a lawyer, the insurance company will assume that you do not have the necessary legal skills to effectively represent yourself if the matter goes to trial. Therefore, they will try and settle out of court for as little money as possible. You can bet that any offer the insurance company does make will be far below the actual value of your case.
Generally speaking, the sooner you involve a car accident lawyer in your case, the better off you will be. As soon as you retain legal counsel, your lawyer can start gathering up the documents necessary to prove your claim—and having the required experts. Your lawyer can do this even while you continue treating your injuries.
Once you complete all of your medical treatment, your lawyer can negotiate the personal injury claim and, if necessary, file a lawsuit in court and litigate it to a conclusion.
Types of Car Accidents
When other individuals are negligent, car accidents happen. Some of the most common car accidents include broadside collisions, rear-end accidents, and head-on collisions.
A broadside collision, or T-bone accident, usually happens at a traffic intersection, where the front of a vehicle strikes the side of a car traveling on an adjacent roadway. These accidents typically occur when overzealous drivers try to beat a red light but are unsuccessful.
Rear-end accidents happen when a vehicle strikes the car or truck directly in front of them. Some rear-end crashes happen so forcefully that a chain-reaction collision occurs, and many drivers suffer injuries. These accidents can also cause traffic backups, mainly if they appear in heavy rush-hour traffic on a highway.
Finally, head-on collisions happen when the fronts of two vehicles moving in opposite directions strike one another. The at-fault driver, who is usually intoxicated or distracted, may veer across the median strip or center line and hit another vehicle in the opposing lane. When these collisions happen at high speeds, a fatality will likely result.
If you or a person you love has suffered injuries in one of these accidents that resulted from driver negligence, an experienced car accident lawyer can investigate the circumstances and determine if you are eligible to pursue monetary compensation. If you are, your lawyer can promptly file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf and work to get you the damages you need.
How Car Crashes Happen?
Many car accidents happen because of negligent motorists.
For example, a driver might be violating a law by operating their vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol, or engaging in distracted driving:
- Road rule violations – The primary purpose of road rules is to keep drivers and passengers safe. When motor vehicle operators violate these rules, accidents can leave people seriously injured. Typical road rule violations that lead to motor vehicle crashes include aggressive driving maneuvers, such as tailgating and weaving in and out of traffic. Negligent drivers sometimes also speed and fail to yield the right-of-way at the proper times, such as at traffic intersections.
- Drunk driving – Far too many drivers still get behind the wheel of a car after having too much to drink. Although a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater makes the driver intoxicated by law, a driver can still suffer the effects of alcohol impairment with a lower BAC. Specifically, an intoxicated driver cannot see straight or drive safely. And since alcohol delays reaction time, an impaired driver might be unable to stop their car before causing a collision.
- Distracted driving – Some drivers succumb to distractions in their vehicles. Potential distractions include loud music playing in the vehicle, rowdy vehicle passengers, and electronic devices in the vehicle, such as tablets, cellular phones, and GPS devices. When a driver diverts their attention away from the road, they might not see an approaching vehicle or pedestrian, causing a severe collision.
Although many car accidents result from negligent driving, that is not the only cause of these accidents. Sometimes, car accidents happen despite safe driving. However, another entity might have acted negligently, resulting in the car crash. For example, if a car repair facility does not carefully perform repair work, the motor vehicle can malfunction on the road, leading to a crash.
Alternatively, a defective motor vehicle part, such as a braking system, might malfunction and cause a car accident. Manufacturers and distributors must use reasonable care when they design and distribute their products. If an injured accident victim can prove that the manufacturer was negligent, they can pursue a claim or lawsuit against the manufacturer or someone else in the chain of commerce.
An experienced car accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your accident with you and file a claim or lawsuit against all potentially responsible parties.
In What Ways Can a Lawyer Can Help You?
Not involving a lawyer in your case—or waiting too long to retain an experienced car accident lawyer—can have serious negative consequences. Therefore, you want to make sure that you involve a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so they have time to review your case and prepare a timely settlement package or lawsuit for your car accident case.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can:
- Investigate your accident, and if necessary, hire the appropriate expert—such as an accident reconstructionist.
- Draft a settlement demand letter and make a demand on your behalf
- Assembling a settlement demand package to present to the insurance company adjuster
- Negotiate with the adjuster to pursue favourable settlement compensation on your behalf
- File a lawsuit in the court system, if the insurance company adjuster refuses to offer you the compensation you deserve
- Litigate your case in the court system and take part in discovery
- Prepare you for depositions and court proceedings that occur throughout your case
- Help you decide whether you should accept a pending settlement offer or litigate your case in the court system to a conclusion
- Represent you at all court hearings, including settlement conferences and jury trials
- Help you pursue alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or binding arbitration, to bring about a prompt and efficient resolution of your car accident case
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you recover the damages you deserve in the most efficient way possible.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
One of the most critical steps that a lawyer can take on your behalf is filing a claim with the insurance company. In most instances, your lawyer will deal with the insurance company for the driver who caused your accident.
In addition to preparing a settlement demand letter, your lawyer will prepare a complete demand package to send to the insurance company adjuster. This package will include all of the relevant documents in your case, including copies of your medical reports, lost wages statements, photographs of your injuries, and photographs of the property damage to your vehicle. You might also prepare a victim impact statement that explains the overall effect that the accident and injuries had on your life.
Once the insurance company adjuster reviews these documents and decides to accept fault for the case, your lawyer can begin negotiating a settlement offer on your behalf. You have the final authority on whether to accept or reject an offer. A lawyer cannot make that determination without your express permission.
In most instances, the first offers from insurance company adjusters are not very good. They are usually far less than the actual value of the case if it went to trial. Insurance companies make these low offers to see if they can settle the case quickly. However, with a good car accident lawyer on your side, you increase your chances of recovering more money.
Your lawyer can skillfully negotiate with the insurance company adjuster, and if they refuse to offer you fair compensation, you can threaten litigation in court.
Filing a Lawsuit in Court
When insurance companies and their adjusters are unreasonable, it sometimes becomes necessary to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit begins the litigation process and involves the court directly. The court will establish deadlines for certain milestones in your case, such as discovery, a settlement conference, and a trial date.
Even while your case is in litigation, your lawyer can still negotiate a favourable settlement offer on your behalf. In other words, just because your lawyer files a lawsuit does not mean that the settlement negotiation process ends.
If your case does not resolve during litigation, you can take it to a jury trial where a jury decides the outcome of all disputed issues. You might also consider mediation or binding arbitration to resolve your car accident case.
Recovering Damages in Your Case
A car accident claim or lawsuit tries to recover financial compensation for your injuries and their aftermath. Some injuries are so significant that they result in a permanent disability or disfigurement. You might even experience pain and suffering for the remainder of your life due to your injuries.
The monetary compensation that accident victims recover for their injuries will vary from case to case.
If you suffered severe injuries in your car accident, you have a better chance of recovering high monetary compensation than someone who suffered less severe injuries. Insurance companies typically equate significant injuries with high amounts of pain, suffering, and mental distress.
Similarly, when insurance companies see property damage photos that show substantial damage to the involved vehicles, they tend to award more monetary compensation to resolve the claim.
First of all, a car accident victim can make a lost wage claim if they had to miss time from their job after their accident. They might have needed to skip work to attend their medical appointments—or simply because they were in pain. Under these circumstances, the accident victim should obtain the necessary documents from their employer. These documents typically include tax returns and other information that shows the days that the accident victim was off work and the amount that they lost per day or week.
An accident victim can also claim loss of earning capacity if they cannot return to their pre-accident job due to their injuries. If they had to obtain a different job—at a lower pay rate—they can bring a loss of earning capacity claim.
Victims of car accidents can also recover compensation for their permanent disability, inconvenience, pain and suffering, and mental distress. If their quality of life changed between the time of the accident and the present time, the accident victim can bring a claim for loss of quality of life.
Finally, the accident victim can pursue monetary compensation for loss of the ability to use a specific body part. Accident victims can recover these damages if they suffered a permanent injury in their accident, such as spinal cord damage or paralysis.
A car accident lawyer will do everything they can to help you maximize the compensation you obtain in your case.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer Today
To recover the compensation you truly deserve for your car accident injuries, you need a lawyer on your side who has extensive experience settling and litigating personal injury cases. Your lawyer can highlight the strengths of your case while downplaying any weaknesses, helping you obtain the best possible settlement result, jury verdict, or arbitration award in your case. Contact a personal injury lawyer to receive your consultation.