How Do Car Accident Settlements Work?
August 22, 2022
If you suffered injuries in a motor vehicle collision, you might feel like your life is upside down. You may be left dealing with catastrophic injuries and excruciating pain while enduring significant financial hardships from the inability to work or medical bills not covered by your insurance. Fortunately, you have legal options. An experienced car accident attorney at Gruel Mills can help you recover the compensation you need to get your life back right-side up.
What Exactly Is a Settlement?
A settlement is a voluntary agreement between disputing parties about an issue before a court resolution. In general, the plaintiff agrees to voluntarily dismiss their claim or lawsuit against the defendant in exchange for a certain amount of money.
While the premise may seem simple, negotiating a settlement is rarely straightforward. Reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer immediately for assistance if you are in a car crash. A lawyer understands the best way to conduct settlement negotiations and how to fight for your desired outcome.
The Motor Vehicle Accident Settlement Process
To start the settlement process after a motor vehicle accident, you must gather the necessary evidence and documents to support your claim. An experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you with this process. Your lawyer will gather the evidence and secure all the appropriate documents, including medical records, receipts related to the accident, testimony, and other evidence that shows what happened.
Once you gather the evidence, your attorney will probably draft a demand letter stating your claim, explaining your injuries, providing a statement of fault, and laying out the monetary damages you want to recover and the deadline to meet these demands. At Gruel Mills, we often call this a “settlement brochure,” which we use to persuade the insurance adjuster of the value of your claims. The letter or brochure is sent to the insurance company, which will complete their investigation and accept or deny the demands.
If the insurance company accepts the claim, it will make a settlement offer, allowing you to start settlement negotiations. If the demands lead to settlement negotiations, both parties will present their arguments and try to come up with a settlement offer. If everyone agrees to it, then the matter resolves. Whether or not to accept a settlement offer is always your decision. However, if the parties cannot reach a mutual agreement, your lawyer—with your approval—will take your case to trial, where they will pursue maximum compensation.
What Is an Average Car Accident Settlement Amount?
Because each accident is different, there is no average settlement amount. Instead, to ensure the highest compensation for your harm and losses following a devastating accident, work with an experienced car crash lawyer. Your lawyer can determine the proper compensation for your accident based on several factors, including your injuries and losses.
What Factors Influence a Motor Vehicle Accident Settlement?
As mentioned above, many factors determine how much money you can obtain in a car accident settlement, including the severity of the injuries involved and the effect these injuries have on your life. Accidents involving wrongful death or debilitating trauma, such as a severe traumatic brain injury or paralysis, often lead to the highest settlement amounts.
The following factors often affect settlements:
- The amount of lost income
- The type of medical treatments needed and the length of these treatments
- The insurance policy coverage available
- The culpability of the person responsible for the motor vehicle collision
- The other available coverage types, such as uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage
- If the injuries resulted in any permanent limitations on your life
- The extent of your pain and suffering
- The lawyer representing the other side
- The property damages involved
- The evidence and its credibility
Due to these complex factors, work with a skilled car accident lawyer following your accident. Because these lawyers are familiar with this process and understand what factors can impact your case, they know how to prepare the strongest legal case on your behalf to go after the financial recovery you deserve.
Accepting the First Settlement From the Insurance Company
Even though a settlement offer from the insurance company may seem great, never accept their first offer until a lawyer reviews it. It is probably not enough to compensate you for your injuries, and it is probably not the full value they are willing to pay for your claims. The insurance company’s goal is to pay out the least amount of money possible so that it can continue to make profit.
The Statute of Limitations and What It Means for Your Car Accident Settlement
While some car accident cases settle before a lawsuit is filed, it is often necessary to file a lawsuit to get the insurer to the bargaining table. However, you must know that you have a limited time to file your case based on the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is a regulation that dictates how long a person has to pursue a lawsuit after an alleged offense. If an individual does not bring their case within this period, they cannot pursue the money they need for their injuries and losses. Most states only provide individuals with a few years to file their case, but in rare occasions, some exceptions may apply if you have missed the deadline.
For these reasons, discuss your case with an experienced car accident lawyer immediately after the crash. These lawyers can determine how long you have to file your lawsuit and keep track of the settlement process to ensure you do not miss your deadline to file your case. If necessary, your lawyer will prepare and submit the paperwork to the court before this period runs out.
Actions You Can Take to Help the Settlement Process
Between the chaos of the accident scene and your injuries, the last thing you want to do after a devastating event is interview witnesses or gather evidence from the crash. However, the things you do after an incident are critical in ensuring you stay safe and protect your legal rights.
For these reasons, following a motor vehicle accident, consider doing the following:
Call 911 immediately after a car accident. This step is the fastest way to alert medical personnel and the police of the collision and get the accident on record. After the police arrive, they can review the facts and document the details of the incident in their report. During the settlement negotiations, your lawyer can use this report to help you fight for maximum compensation.
If the area is safe, gather as much evidence following the accident as possible.
This step includes taking photos of:
- The injuries you see
- The cars involved in the crash
- The location of these cars on the road
- The damage to the cars
- The weather conditions
- Defects on the streets
- Skid marks
- Traffic signs and signals near the collision
- Any other evidence demonstrating what happened
If you cannot gather this evidence, an experienced car accident lawyer can handle the investigation on your behalf and obtain the evidence needed to prove fault and damages.
Exchange Information With Others
Try to obtain information from everyone involved in the collision, including their names, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, insurance information, and vehicle details, such as make and model.
Additionally, if anyone else saw the incident, try to get their personal information. These witnesses can often provide testimony to help substantiate your case and further details to support your settlement negotiations.
However, as you discuss this accident with these individuals, remember that the other side can try to use your words against you. Therefore, avoid making any definitive statements or apologizing for the crash.
Fight for the Money You Need with an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
Dealing with an insurance company or defense team following a motor vehicle collision is stressful, especially as you try to heal. Fortunately, you will not have to take on this challenging situation alone when you work with an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer.
Once you retain one of these legal professionals, they can:
- Figure out if you have a viable claim and determine what legal options you should pursue.
- Gather the evidence needed to prove who was at fault, what happened, and the damages you sustained.
- Bring on experts to help substantiate your case, including accident specialists, medical care workers, and even economists.
- Determine which parties were responsible for the accident and hold all of them accountable for the harm and losses you suffered.
- Deal with the settlement negotiations and fight for an amount that is fair to you.
- Proceed to trial if the other side is unwilling to give the money you need, and go after the resolution you want.
If you sustained injuries in a car accident and are looking to secure compensation for your losses, do not take on settlement negotiations alone. Instead, reach out to an experienced car accident attorney today for a free consultation and learn how these lawyers can help you fight for the justice and monetary damages you deserve.