If you are involved in a car accident and injured through the negligence of another driver, you are entitled to make a personal injury claim for all damages sustained as a result.
The purpose of this compensation is to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and also the pain and suffering experienced after the accident. Basically, your goal as a claimant should be to recover financially from your car accident.
The more you learn about the different steps in a car accident settlement process, the more confidently you can navigate it.
While the settlement process is reasonably straightforward, it is also time-consuming. There is much more involved than submitting a claim to the insurance company of the negligent driver and receiving a settlement check.
There is typically a thorough investigation of the car accident followed by a negotiation process between your attorney and the insurance company of the defendant. If you fail to reach an agreement with the insurance company after negotiation, you may need to file a lawsuit and appear in court to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
By retaining an experienced car accident attorney, you can strengthen your chances of receiving a favorable settlement, and they can also guide you through the various steps of a car accident settlement.
If you are having trouble making ends meet financially during your claim, Uplift Legal Funding may be able to help. Our auto accident settlement loans help plaintiffs nationwide pay for living expenses before their cases settle.
After The Auto Accident
Here are the steps you should follow immediately after being involved in a car accident.
Report the Accident
In most states, you are legally obligated to report a car accident to the local police department if anyone was injured. Alternatively, you may report the accident to the county sheriff or to state highway patrol.
Some states also require a written police report in the event of serious injuries, death, or property damage.
Document the scene of the accident. Take photos of your vehicle from multiple angles.
Make sure you document the damage to both vehicles.
Photograph the surrounding area, making sure to include any property damage.
Talk to Witnesses
If there were witnesses to your accident, write down their names and contact details.
Seek Medical Attention
If you or a passenger in your vehicle are injured, call 911 and get the medical attention you need.
For more information on steps to take immediately following your accident, click here.
What Process Does a Car Accident Settlement Follow?
While every personal injury claim is different, you will follow the same fundamental steps during the claims process.
Preparing the insurance claim
To prepare your insurance claim, it will help if you have gathered information at the scene of the accident.
Remember not to apologize, and do not accept any fault for the accident at the scene.
Collect the following information to streamline your personal injury claim:
- Name and phone numbers of all those involved
- Insurance information of other driver(s)
- Vehicle make, model, and license plate
- Police report reference number
- Service number of attending police officers
- Names and phone numbers of all witnesses
Filing a letter of demand
With all the information you need in place, you need to draft and write a demand letter. You send this demand letter to the insurance company to formally request payment or another demand to correct the other party’s fault.
Demand letters are professional documents typically drafted by lawyers. When applied to a personal injury claim, a demand letter is also known as an insurance claim letter. The demand letter presents the facts of the car accident to persuade the insurance carrier to pay compensation.
Demand letters need the following three core components:
- All facts relevant to the accident
- Comprehensive list of damages
- Statement of fault
The demand letter should fully outline what happened in the accident.
If you or any passengers in your vehicle were injured, detail these injuries, as well as any medical treatments, a list of medical bills, and all other related receipts.
Beyond this, the letter needs to discuss the fault of the insured to determine liability.
When requesting a settlement, you should explicitly state your payout expectations.
Always ensure that a demand letter is direct, concise, and polite. A demand letter is a formal document, so you should also strive to remain as objective as possible.
As well as requesting a compensation amount, also include a demand for any non-monetary compensation – repairs, for instance – as well as including a firm deadline for the insurance company to meet your expectations or to expect further action.
Negotiation and settlement
After you have sent the letter of demand to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you can anticipate one of four responses:
The insurance company accepts your demand and pays. You receive your compensation, and the settlement is resolved.
They make a counteroffer rather than a payment. Never settle for an unreasonable offer. You can then continue the negotiation process. If you are still not satisfied, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney will prove invaluable if you need to negotiate in this way.
The insurance company denies your claim, refusing to pay. This will only normally happen if there is insufficient evidence or a problem with the claims process.
They do not respond at all. In this rare event, speak with your attorney about taking further action.
If you find the negotiation process stalled, you can request mediation.
With mediation, you meet with the insurance provider’s representatives in the presence of a third-party mediator. This unbiased third party will hear both sides of the account and try to help you reach an agreement. Your lawyer may also attend this meeting.
If mediation is successful, you can finalize a settlement amount. You may also need to sign a form – a release of liability – to promise the insurance company you will not subsequently sue for damages.
Filing a lawsuit
Perhaps all negotiations come to nothing, and you do not receive a reasonable offer reflecting the compensation you deserve.
Maybe the insurance carrier wrongfully denies your claim.
While most car accidents cases end in settlements, you can still pursue the matter in the courts if you want a fair resolution and you feel you are being denied this.
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, the case can still end in settlement at any point before the trial date. If the case goes to trial, a jury will decide whether you are eligible for compensation.
Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is the best way to negotiate the civil process, from the discovery phase through to depositions and more.