Car accident settlement negotiations involve establishing several factors, including liability, future economic loss (such as lost income), medical expenses, property damage and pain and suffering. Lawyers gather evidence, including eyewitness testimony, police reports, and medical records, to build a strong case before negotiating with the insurance company. Once an attorney has a firm number in mind, they can negotiate a fair settlement for you.
When it comes to car accident settlements, the determination of fault often determines whether you receive compensation for your losses. The law requires anyone negligent in a crash to pay for the losses of others involved, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages and pain and suffering. Some states have laws that emphasize proving fault. In contrast, others follow comparative negligence guidelines where you can still pursue damages even if you share some responsibility for the accident. Understanding the fault laws in your state can help you prepare for negotiations and better evaluate any offers made by the insurance company.
Having solid evidence to support your case is crucial before beginning negotiations. Taking pictures of the scene from every angle, documenting any physical injuries you suffered, and requesting medical records and wage loss information are important first steps. Your attorney will also want to speak with any witnesses who may be able to corroborate your claims.
Aside from proving fault, calculating damages is one of the most important aspects of a car accident settlement. This includes establishing the value of your vehicle, capturing all medical bills and related costs, documenting other out-of-pocket expenses, and quantifying noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering. It is also vital to consider future medical costs, missed wages, and long-term needs. An experienced attorney will ensure that these factors are accounted for so that the final compensation package adequately addresses your financial and personal losses. During the negotiation process, insurance companies will likely attempt to settle your claim quickly with low offers. It is best not to accept the first offer you receive but instead challenge it with documentation that demonstrates your losses. For instance, medical records showing that a pre-existing condition has been made worse by the accident can be used as leverage during negotiations.
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
After establishing fault and determining an appropriate amount for damages, your lawyer will send a demand letter to the insurance company. The insurance adjuster will then respond, either accepting or rejecting the demand.
If the insurance adjuster rejects your claim, they will provide a reason why in writing. This is your chance to make a counter-offer and to reiterate the economic and noneconomic losses you’ve experienced.
You can include any medical expenses, lost wages from time off work, property damage, and pain and suffering as part of your damages. You can also cite any impact your injuries have had or will continue to have on your quality of life and relationships. This will help to ensure you receive a fair settlement offer. In many cases, insurance companies will back down after a careful negotiation process. Your attorney will fight to get you full and fair compensation if they do not. This could require going to trial.
Going to Trial
The decision to go to trial is big, but it can be the best choice if you feel the insurance company’s offer does not adequately represent the injury or damage you suffered. A lawyer can help you assess whether going to trial would benefit your case. Your attorney will also prepare your demand letter, which contains a detailed account of the accident and copies of any medical bills, receipts and other evidence supporting the claim. Your attorney may recommend alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like mediation or arbitration to facilitate a quicker and less costly settlement. Experienced lawyers can significantly improve your odds of obtaining more money from your car accident settlement.