How Does a Car Accident Settlement Work?

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A car accident settlement refers to the process in which both parties involved in a car accident resolve their dispute without taking the case to trial. Only a small percentage of car accident cases proceed to court because most car accident cases are often resolved through settlement negotiations between the insurance company and the injured party. If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be eligible to seek compensation for the damages and injuries you obtained because of it. While filing a case and taking it to court may seem like a good idea at first, it is not advisable for everyone. Lawsuits can be a lengthy process and, not to mention, expensive. This is where the role of settlements comes in. If you are a victim of a car accident and seek to obtain compensation from the party at fault, settling your car accident claim can be the answer. Car accident settlements work as a great alternative to litigation for several reasons. Some of its advantages include:
  • Car accident settlements have quicker resolutions rather than cases taken to trial
  • Legal fees are smaller compared to lawsuits
  • With lawsuits, there is always the risk of losing your case
  • Car accident settlements are less expensive and require a shorter amount of time than court cases

Initial Assessment and Documentation

If you have been injured in a car accident, seeking medical attention immediately is imperative. By seeking proper medical help, your doctor will be able to assess your injuries and provide you with the necessary treatment for your recovery. Moreover, seeking medical attention will not only help you recover from your injuries but could also serve as evidence should you choose to file any claim for damages. The documented medical records can help support your claim and strengthen your case. Getting hurt in a car accident can be very stressful and draining. Unfortunately, the process of seeking compensation for the damages is also not that easy. Whether you choose to settle your car accident claim out of court or in a trial, gathering evidence to support your claim is crucial to ensure that you receive fair compensation. Some of the documents that can help support your claim include the following:
  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Car accident photos
  • Medical reports
As you recover from the traumatic experience as well as the injuries, gathering evidence may get hard for you. Hiring an experienced car accident attorney can help you prepare the necessary documents and acquire evidence to strengthen your claim further.

Negotiation with Insurance Companies After An Accident

Negotiating with the insurance company of the at-fault driver can be a very challenging task. In some cases, the process is very easy and straightforward. This usually occurs when there are only minor personal injuries and minimal property damage. However, there are instances when the insurance company of the at-fault party will refuse to pay you a fair settlement and try to trick you into accepting a lowball offer. So, how do you negotiate with insurance companies? Here are some tips for settlement negotiations: Start your claim as soon as possible. As a victim, it is important that you initiate your claim quickly so you can better recall and report the necessary details of the accident. Gather the essential evidence to support your claim. Reporting the accident is not enough. If you seek to receive compensation, you must be able to provide evidence proving that the damages to your property, as well as your injuries, are the result of the accident. Try to estimate a fair settlement. Don’t just simply state an amount. Make sure to first take into consideration several factors, such as the cost of your medical care, financial losses due to disabilities, pain and suffering, as well as the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged property. Also, it is important to keep in mind the laws surrounding car accidents in your state to better understand what damages can be recovered as well as the amount of compensation you are eligible to receive. Another factor that insurance adjusters take into consideration is liability. Was the accident caused by the other driver, or were you partially responsible as well? Most states require drivers to have car insurance. However, the insurance and liability roles vary depending from state to state. In most states, you will be able to get compensation for the damages and injuries caused by the accident, even if you were partly responsible as well. In other states, you will receive any form of compensation if you are proven to share even a small percentage of fault.

Calculation of Damages in A Car Accident

The types of damages that are included in a car accident settlement are:

Medical expenses

Due to the sudden force of impact, car accident victims get hurt and get injured. Sometimes, it could even lead to wrongful death. Because of this, medical expenses have become a large part of the economic damages covered in car accident claims. Medical expenses include ambulance costs, hospital stays, medical appointments, surgeries, medication, costs of rehabilitation as well as cognitive therapy in the case of brain injuries.

Property damage

Car accident victims may also recover compensation for damaged properties, such as the costs of the repairs of their vehicles and any other additional expenses. The damages will typically be covered by the insurance company of the at-fault party once you have filed the insurance claim.

Lost wages

Car accidents lead to injuries, and those can lead to temporary or sometimes even permanent disability, resulting in financial losses. The aftermath of the accident may cause you to lose your earning capacity due to several reasons, such as:
  • Physical injuries
  • Time spent in the hospital
  • Limited mobility
  • Any other factor that may affect your ability to do your usual work

Pain and suffering

Legally, pain and suffering refers to the physical and mental distress car accidents go through because of the accident. However, different states have different ways of compensating for a pain and suffering claim. For the calculation of damages, insurance adjusters use a mathematical formula called a “Damages Formula.” Each type of case is different, so insurance adjusters may calculate the damages differently. Generally, the formula works by adding all your economic damages and then estimating your non-economic damages to determine the amount of compensation you need in order to recover from the crash. Economic damages may include:
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Property loss
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Lost earning capacity.
Meanwhile, non-economic damages may consist of:
  • Emotional anguish
  • Reputational damage
  • Humiliation
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities

Settlement Offers and Counteroffers

Most of the time, insurance companies of the at-fault party will pressure victims into settling immediately. This is because they aim to settle fast with you in order to keep the costs low and their profits high. Before you accept a settlement, there are several factors you need to consider so you can receive fair compensation. These include the injuries you acquired, medical costs, pain and suffering you have endured, property damage, as well as lost earning capacity due to limited mobility or permanent disability. Make sure that you take all these factors into account to avoid accepting an unfair settlement.

Acceptance and Release

Once you and the insurance company have reached a final settlement agreement, it is important to make sure that everything you agreed upon is presented in writing. Furthermore, it is crucial that you understand the terms of the release. These usually include waiving the right to pursue further legal action related to the accident once you sign the agreement, so make sure that everything is detailed in the updated contract and that it is signed by all parties to the agreement.

Distribution of Settlement Funds

When you settle your claim with the insurance companies, they will then proceed to issue the check within a set timeframe mandated by the state law. It’s important to note that the compensation you receive will be reduced due to the costs and fees that must be compensated first. Costs that may reduce your personal injury settlement include medical liens, additional bills, additional expenses, and attorney’s fees.

Should I Hire A Lawyer For A Car Accident Settlement?

After getting into a car accident, navigating the complexities of personal injury claims can be stressful as well as confusing. Hiring a personal injury attorney specializing in car accidents can help alleviate the stress and burden you carry as you recover from the accident and wait for your settlement. The role of a personal injury attorney includes:
  • Helping you understand the legal jargon that may be contained in agreements so you can better understand and avoid making mistakes
  • Communicating with the insurance company of the other party involved in the accident
  • Obtaining the necessary evidence to support your claim
  • Organizing important documents associated with your claim, such as medical bills and any other financial losses
  • Negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance adjuster or defense attorney

Call Crockett Law Group Now

Car accident settlements can be the best choice for car accident victims, especially for those who wish to save time and money. By settling your case, you will be able to avoid the additional stress and financial obligations of lawsuits. Moreover, by opting for a car accident settlement, you can expect to receive compensation within a shorter amount of time compared to cases taken to trial. While it is possible to settle your case without a legal representative, having an experienced personal injury attorney can help make the settlement process resolve faster and get you an even better offer. Crockett Law Group is a five-star rated personal injury law firm in Southern California focused on car accidents. Our team has helped hundreds of clients to get better settlements and maximum benefits. We’re ready to do the same for you. If you have been involved in a car accident and are unsure of what to do, contact us now at (888) 965-3827 for your inquiries or send us a message through our secure and confidential online form. Our fast and reliable team is available to assist you 24/7.
Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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