The Best Way To Handle A Car Crash Settlement
If you’ve been in a car crash and were lucky enough to get away with your life, you’re probably considering filing for compensation. Treating injuries and mental trauma you suffered is an expensive affair, with medical bills piling up fast! Now, it’s more important than ever to have an experienced car crash lawyer pursuing your case. Seeking consultation with an attorney to handle your accident claim for settlement would give you a better chance of getting the compensation you deserve.
The problem with insurance companies
If you’ve never dealt with an insurance company, you wouldn’t know how hard it is to get a fair settlement for injuries and property damages. It becomes even harder when you’re dealing with the other driver’s insurance carrier (if you live in an at-fault state), as they’ll try everything in their power to avoid paying you the desired amount.
Insurance agencies, just like other businesses, have to make a profit. And they don’t mind profiting off of others’ misfortunes when given a chance. The insurance adjusters want to settle your case for as low of an amount as possible, and they do that by dismissing or minimizing the extent of your pain and suffering.
That’s why it’s important to gather proper evidence and arm yourself with the expertise of an experienced car accident lawyer. That way, you’re guaranteed to be taken seriously right from the start. You also minimize the chances of making documentation mistakes which could cost you dearly when going against an insurance company.
Steps to follow to handle a car crash settlement
If you or a loved one have been in a car accident, it’s vital not to do or say anything without consulting your lawyer first. That being said, here are some of the steps you must follow immediately following an accident:
- Get contact details: Don’t leave the scene of the accident even if you’re physically capable. First, ensure that all the parties involved are safe and then ask for contact details– both personal and of their insurance carrier. If a police officer arrives at the scene, get a copy of the report.
- Take photos of the scene: Use your smartphone to take photographs of the accident scene. Click pictures of the damage caused, your injuries, and any other relevant details that might be important to the case.
- Don’t release your medical reports to the insurance company: Don’t release any sensitive medical info to the insurance company (be it yours or the other driver’s). They might use it against you later on.
- Don’t take the first settlement offer: The insurance adjusters will try their best to convince you that their first offer is their last offer. They might also pressurize you to say YES by presenting their offer as ‘limited time’ but don’t believe them. Instead, let your attorney handle the negotiations.
- keep track of your injuries: If the case ever goes to trial, the judge and jury would want to know about your suffering and how long you’ve been enduring it.
- Keep a record of your medical expenses: To prove your damages and injuries, save all your medical bills and receipts. Also, it’s best to stay under the supervision of one doctor to prevent damaging your case.
- Let your lawyer take the lead: Like mentioned before, don’t try to tackle any part of the case yourself– be it communicating with the adjusters or filing a claim. Hire an experienced attorney instead.
How long does it take to receive a car crash settlement?
It actually varies in every case based on the specifics of the accident. Usually, settlements for minor injuries and property damages get settled far sooner than cases where the dollar value of the claim is potentially higher. Plainly speaking, in cases where the stakes are higher for you and the insurance company, you can expect the fight to go on for a longer duration. Your attorney can give you a better idea on this subject.
What happens if the accident claim exceeds insurance policy limits?
If you have underinsured motorist coverage as part of your policy, you can use that feature to bridge the gap between the at-fault driver’s insurance liability coverage and the fair claim value of your damages. For example, if your medical bill comes to $40,000 for treatment of injuries and the at-fault party’s insurance liability is capped at $30,000, then being underinsured would mean the insurance company of the at-fault driver would cover the rest.
If everything fails, the last resort would be to file a lawsuit against the other party and hope you can squeeze out a settlement. Alternatively, the case would have to go to trial, something to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
When do I need to file a lawsuit?
Filing a lawsuit is not the norm in case of car crash cases, as the matter is usually settled between the parties. However, if you think the settlement talks have stalled or the insurance company is taking your claim casually, you always have the choice to file a lawsuit. Be aware every state has their own lawsuit filing deadline set by the statute of limitations. So, don’t wait too long and get in touch with an attorney immediately.
In most cases, even the mere idea that you might file a lawsuit against the insurance carrier will be enough to take you seriously. They’ll come back to re-open negotiations with a fair settlement offer. If that doesn’t happen, the case will go to trial, and you’d have to win to get the claimed settlement value.
If your injuries are significant, there’s a high chance that having legal counsel would get you the settlement you’re owed. Legal matters quickly take a turn for the worse, and there’s no substitute for experience. So, reach out to a trusted car accident attorney in your area to discuss your options.