Each year in Hillsborough County, nearly 2,000 people suffer injuries in motor vehicle accidents. Florida generally requires those who sustain serious injuries in car accidents to first seek compensation through their own insurance policy.
However, if the expenses of the injury exceed the limits of that policy or if the injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold, these individuals qualify to seek compensation through the personal injury claims process.
Generally, when people hear about personal injury claims, they think of lawsuits. While a personal injury lawsuit can certainly be part of the process, the truth is that the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits resolve before they ever see a courtroom. Settlements constitute a common form of resolving these claims.
Handling settlement negotiations is just one of the many services that an experienced car accident attorney can provide for you. To learn more about the process and the other services that an attorney offers aimed at assisting you with your claim, contact a motor vehicle accident attorney today to schedule a free case evaluation.
As explained by the American Bar Association, a settlement constitutes an out-of-court agreement in which you accept money in return for dropping the legal action that you filed against the at-fault party. The settlement process generally begins when your attorney submits a demand package to the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster.
The adjuster can then choose to reject the claim outright and notify the claimant of the reasoning behind the decision, accept the claim and process it for payment, or make a settlement offer. The settlement offer ultimately accepts liability for the insured’s negligence but disputes the value of the claim.
We should note that the settlement process does not end with the filing of the lawsuit. A settlement offer can be made at any point before a court has rendered a decision in the case.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?
Settlements are unique in all aspects. They reflect the details of how the accident occurred, the severity of the resulting injuries, the financial and psychological impacts the claimant has endured as a result of the accident, and the willingness of each side to work toward an agreement that everyone can accept. Just as there are no average car accidents, there are no average car accident settlements. Each settlement will depend on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the particular car accident and resulting injuries.
What Factors Impact a Case’s Value?
While car accident settlements are not one-size-fits-all, many different factors can affect the value of your claim and the amount of your settlement.
These factors include:
- The amount of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage, as this may determine how much you can realistically recover.
- The severity of your injury, as more severe injuries tend to result in a higher level of financial and emotional costs.
- The income you earned before the accident, as lost wages and lost earning capacity rank among the major compensable damages you can seek after an accident.
- Your patience through the settlement process. Insurance companies have tactics that they regularly use to avoid large payouts on personal injury claims. One of those tactics involves offering an extremely quick and low settlement in hopes that the claimant feels desperate enough to take it. A similar tactic is to drag out settlement negotiations in the hope of waiting out the claimant. An insurance company may also attempt to discourage an injured individual from seeking legal representation, so watch out for deceptive insurance adjusters.
How Much Should You Settle For?
The answer to that question is simple: You should settle for the amount of compensation that fairly compensates you not only for the expenses and impacts you have already incurred as a result of your injury, but also those you will likely face in the future. The tricky thing about settlements is that if you agree to an amount and then later determine that it isn’t enough to cover your expenses, you cannot go back and ask for more money.
An Attorney Can Help You Get a Fair Settlement
Personal injury claimants who seek the guidance and assistance of a personal injury attorney through the personal injury claims process tend to see higher settlements than those who attempt to navigate the process on their own. The main reason for this is that attorneys have experience with the legal process and negotiating settlements, as well as extensive knowledge and a network of medical professionals to help them determine your claim’s value and how much you should seek in compensation for your injuries.
Some of the services that an experienced attorney can provide to help you obtain the maximum settlement for your case include:
- A free case evaluation, which is an obligation-free conversation you can have with an attorney to learn more about the process and obtain answers to your legal questions.
- Ongoing guidance throughout the process. When it comes time to accept or reject an offered settlement, you will ultimately make that decision. However, your attorney will help ensure that you have the information you need to make an informed decision that’s in your best interests.
- Settlement negotiations. You want to retain an attorney with experience negotiating favorable settlements for past clients. Your attorney should also have trial experience so the insurance company knows you will take your case to trial if it fails to offer you a fair settlement.
- Timely filing of your paperwork in court. As previously mentioned, settlement negotiations can continue even after you file a lawsuit. In fact, filing a lawsuit may motivate the adjuster to take the claim seriously.
- Assistance collecting your settlement so that you receive your money as soon as possible.
Don’t attempt to handle your car accident claim on your own; instead, contact an experienced car accident attorney to take the reins so that you can focus on your recovery. For a free case evaluation, contact an experienced attorney online today.