Motor vehicle accidents result in devastating consequences, including significant property damage and debilitating injuries that can forever impact a victim and their family physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. Yet, while you may deserve compensation for the damages you suffered in the accident, getting paid is not easy as you may expect. It can end up leaving you overwhelmed by the entire ordeal.
To better help you understand how obtaining financial damages works following a car crash, and how to make it easier for you, we have prepared the following blog post. In it, we will go over everything you need to know about car accident settlements, the steps involved, and how an experienced car accident attorney can help you take on these settlement negotiations and go after the maximum compensation you deserve.
What Exactly Is a Car Accident Settlement?
A settlement is an agreement to resolve a dispute without going to trial. This agreement is generally between the victim and the at-fault party or the insurance company and can be reached before trial or even once the trial process has started.
However, negotiating a settlement and determining whether the amount is fair is often challenging. For these reasons, following an accident, speak with an experienced car accident attorney who has the skills and knowledge to take on these settlement negotiations on your behalf and go after the compensation you need.
Actions to Take After a Motor Vehicle Accident to Help the Settlement Process
Following a car accident, the last thing you want to worry about is gathering evidence from the accident scene or talking to those who saw the accident. However, your actions after these crashes can help protect your legal rights and form the basis of your claim. The below can provide you with the evidence necessary to help your lawyer negotiate a just settlement.
For these reasons, following a car accident, you should consider doing the following:
#1. Contact the Police Immediately
After a car crash, calling 911 is the best way to alert the police and medical personnel of the collision and your injuries. Once the police arrive and investigate the accident, they can jot down their findings and document the case in their police report.
If you pursue legal action against the wrongful party after the crash, this report can provide your attorney with valuable evidence they can use to negotiate a fair settlement offer.
#2. Collect Evidence From the Scene
If you can, and the scene appears to be safe, you should collect as much evidence as possible. This includes taking pictures and videos with your phone of the motor vehicles in the crash, their placement on the road, the damage done to them, traffic signals near the area, skid marks on the street, the weather conditions at the time of the collision, road defects, and any other physical evidence that can help show what happened.
#3. Talk to Witnesses and Those Involved in the Accident
After the crash, you want to exchange information with those involved in the accident, including insurance information, names and phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, and vehicle information such as make, model, and the license plate.
In addition, if there were people who saw the accident, you want to get their contact information as well. These individuals can often provide helpful details regarding what happened and offer testimony that can help substantiate your claim.
Yet, as you talk to these individuals, make sure you do not apologize for the incident or take any fault for the crash, as these statements can be used against you by the other side to hurt your case and affect the amount of money that you can receive.
#4. Reach out to an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
These attorneys can help you take on this challenging settlement process, ensuring that they fight for the settlement offer you deserve and, if needed, take your case to trial and go after maximum damages.
The Car Settlement Process
After your car accident attorney gathers the necessary information and evidence to support your claim, the next step of this process involves drafting a demand letter and sending it to the insurance company.
A demand letter is a document that lists out the relevant facts of the accident, explains the damages that resulted, and provides a statement of fault. This demand letter will also discuss liability and a settlement demand, which will explicitly detail the expected accident settlement payout and the deadline to meet these expectations.
Your lawyer will send the demand letter to the insurance company. From there, the insurer will likely complete its own investigation into the crash and determine whether it will accept or deny your demands. If the company accepts your claim, it will make a settlement offer and open the door for settlement negotiations. If the insurance company denies your claim, you may need to appeal to the claims adjuster.
During the settlement negotiations, both parties will present their arguments. If both sides agree to the settlement offer, the conflict will resolve. However, if the parties cannot reach a settlement agreement, your attorney may decide to take your case to trial, where they will try to fight for the compensation you deserve.
The Financial Damages You Can Obtain in a Settlement
A settlement offer will often cover both economic and non-economic damages. These damages refer to the monetary compensation for the harms resulting from the defendant’s wrongful actions.
These damages refer to the easily measurable losses that result from an accident, such as a motor vehicle collision.
- Medical bills, including past and current expenses related to doctor appointments, hospital overnight stays, ambulance rides, prescription medications, and other medical treatments.
- Future ongoing medical care
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Personal property damages
- Replacement domestic services
- Rehabilitative therapy
- Additional costs associated with the accident
In comparison, non-economic damages refer to the losses following an accident that are not easy to prove.
They include losses such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- The inconvenience of living with the injuries and their limitations
- Damage to reputation
However, to better help you understand what damages you can pursue in your settlement negotiations, you should work with an experienced car accident attorney. These lawyers can determine which of these damages you can go after and help you fight for the compensation you need.
What Factors Can Influence the Settlement Negotiation Process?
Unfortunately, no formula will determine how much money you can obtain in your car accident settlement.
In truth, too many factors can influence these cases and, ultimately, your settlement amount, including:
- The severity of your injuries
- The severity of the accident
- The medical treatment involved now and in the future
- The available insurance
- The long-term effects of your accident
- The property damage involved
- The number of people involved in the accident
- The defendant’s culpability
- The credibility of the evidence presented
- The ability to work following the accident and any lost income
- The extent of your pain and suffering
In general, the more significant the accident, the higher the payout, and the longer it will usually take for the case to settle. Fortunately, working with a knowledgeable car accident attorney following your accident can benefit your case. These attorneys are familiar with this settlement process, understand the factors that can impact your claim, and know how to prepare the strongest case on your behalf so that they can go after the maximum financial damages you deserve.
Should You Accept the First Settlement Offer You Receive From the Insurance Company?
Although people often believe that the insurance company is there to support them following a car crash and help them get the financial damages they need. This is not how these companies operate. The insurance company is a business, and like other companies, they want to make a profit. By providing you less money in your settlement negotiations or denying your claim altogether, the more money these companies will make.
That is why insurance adjusters may offer you a settlement shortly after your accident when you are most vulnerable, hoping that you accept this amount, no questions asked. These companies know that you are likely struggling after the car collision, and any money can help you in your recovery.
That is why they will usually offer a meager settlement offer that barely covers any of your current expenses, let alone future costs, because they know you will likely not verify the offer. Worse yet, if you accept this amount, you will not be able to go back for more money down the road when you find out that the offer was not enough.
As a result, before you accept any settlement offer from the insurer, you should discuss the amount with an experienced car accident attorney. These lawyers can not only verify whether this amount covers all of your current and future expenses, but if it doesn’t, they can go back to the negotiation table and fight for an amount that does.
The Time Limitations to File a Legal Suit Following a Car Accident
While most car accident claims settle without heading to court, sometimes these settlement negotiations fall through, and the case ends up heading to trial. However, you have limited time to file your lawsuit after an accident.
According to the statute of limitations, which is a law that mandates how much time you have to file your legal case following an accident, you only have four years to file a lawsuit following a car crash in Florida. Yet, this can change if any exceptions apply to this rule.
For these reasons, do not wait to reach out to an experienced car accident attorney following your car accident. These legal professionals can review the circumstances of your accident, determine the maximum amount of time you have to file your case, and ensure they keep track of the settlement process so as not to miss the deadline to file your lawsuit if needed.
How Can an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Help You Obtain the Money You Need Following an Accident?
After a car crash, you already have enough on your plate. Do not worry about settlement negotiations and the legal process on top of everything else. Hire an experienced car accident lawyer so you will not have to.
Once retained, these legal professionals can:
- Go over the car crash with you in detail, evaluate your claim, and determine whether you have a viable case and the legal options you should pursue.
- Answer your questions about the accident and the legal process involved
- Investigate the accident thoroughly and secure the evidence needed to show what happened and who was responsible for your crash.
- Obtain experts to validate your case, including doctors, accident reconstructionists, and economic specialists.
- Handle the settlement negotiations with the other side and the insurance company and go after a fair settlement offer.
- Head to trial if the other side won’t settle your case for a just amount and fight for the maximum financial recovery you deserve.
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a car crash due to another person’s wrongful actions, do not struggle with pursuing a settlement offer on your own.