Settling a car accident claim is a challenging and demanding process. If you try to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, you will find yourself running into all sorts of troubles and challenges that you never expected. If you want to win your case and settle a claim for the highest possible compensation, work with a personal injury lawyer.
How Settling Car Accident Claims Work?
As you are probably aware, after you’re in a car accident, you can sue the person who caused the accident in a civil claim to compensate for the resulting expenses and losses. The money you receive is called a settlement and usually covers physical, financial, and emotional suffering.
Here’s how the civil claim process usually works:
1.Talk to a Lawyer
First, discuss your claim with a lawyer. They will let you know if you have a good claim and if it is worth pursuing a settlement. If you decide to pursue a claim, meet your lawyer in person and discuss the terms of your agreement. You’ll sign a retainer to work with the lawyer on your case.
2. Gather Evidence for Your Claim
Once you retain a lawyer, they will gather evidence that supports your claim.
This evidence may include:
- Medical bills and records prove the extent of your injuries and the financial suffering those injuries brought.
- Receipts for any repairs or replacements for your damaged vehicle or other property.
- Documentation of lost wages and lost income.
- A police report if an officer filed one after your accident.
- Eyewitness statements from anyone who was at the scene.
- A journal detailing how the accident damaged your life.
- Any photographic or video evidence that is available from the accident scene.
Your lawyer will assemble the evidence and build a case to show the accident was not your fault and that it caused you great harm.
3. Send a Complaint Letter
Once you have the evidence you need, your lawyer will create a complaint letter and send it to the at-fault party (the defendant) and/or their insurance company. This complaint will detail the evidence and accident circumstances and request compensation from the defendant.
4. Receive a Response
The defendant will send you a response that either accepts your claim and makes you a settlement offer or rejects your claim. While you may receive a lowball settlement offer as an attempt to pay you to drop the claim, you will likely need a higher settlement to get the compensation you deserve.
5. Gather Further Evidence
Now that you’ve contacted the other party, there’s more evidence that you can gather. Your lawyers will ask for any relevant documents that the defendant’s lawyer and the insurance company have available. They will also take interrogatories written questionnaires and depositions. This evidence builds a stronger claim.
As the defendant will not want to give you the settlement you deserve, you will likely need to negotiate for the amount you deserve. Generally, the defendant’s insurance company will send you an offer via your attorney. You will discuss the offer with your attorney and determine whether it’s worth accepting or if you should ask for more. Then, you’ll respond with your decision. This process will continue until you reach a favorable settlement.
7. Go to Court
If you can’t reach a settlement that you and the defendant agree to, you’ll take your claim to court. A judge and jury will review your case and decide on a settlement verdict. You must get started on your legal claim immediately, as you must file it in court within two years of the accident.
This deadline may seem long, but the at-fault party’s insurance company will not provide any settlement once your legal claim lapses. That’s why you must promptly seek legal help to protect your rights.
8. Receive Your Settlement Check
Once the judge and jury hand down their verdict, the defendant’s insurance company will send you a settlement check. Your lawyer will get the check, pay any outstanding debts, and then deduct their fees before distributing the remainder to you.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
You may want to pursue the process of a car accident claim alone. However, a lawyer can help relieve the burden of pursuing compensation while simultaneously working to ensure you receive a higher monetary award than you’d receive without legal representation.
Here’s why lawyers are helpful and crucial for car accident settlement claims:
- Lawyers will help you set the settlement amount you deserve.
- Lawyers work on a contingency fee, meaning you only need to pay them a percentage of your settlement in return for their services if you win.
- Lawyers can relieve the stress of your recovery by handling negotiations, gathering evidence, and managing other difficult tasks for you.
In most cases, lawyers help their clients earn 3.5x more in a settlement than they would win otherwise. Hiring a lawyer strengthens your car accident settlement claim.
If you were in a car accident and need to pursue a settlement, contact a lawyer to start your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.