If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may wonder how the settlement process works. How is the settlement amount decided? What are the stages of a car accident lawsuit? And what if you don’t want to accept the settlement offer? The following information will help answer those questions and more.
The settlement process works something like this:
- You and your attorney file a claim for damages, which is a request that the insurance company pays you what it owes you in compensation for the injuries caused by the car accident. The insurance company will then offer you an amount they believe fairly compensates you for your injuries, lost wages and other damages.
- If the insurance company pays its fair share of damages or makes an offer that seems fair enough for everyone involved, then the case ends there—but not all cases end with amicable resolutions. Some drivers may feel that their claims were not met adequately or at all; this could lead down two paths:
- Accept what the insurance companies are offering (or reject it entirely), at which point the case is settled; or
- Sue the insurers on grounds of negligence or fraud (as well as any other legal reasons).
How is the settlement amount decided?
A settlement is a compromise between the insurance company and the injured party. It’s an alternative to trial for cases that do not involve complicated issues of law or science, and it’s usually based on the claim and the evidence. The amount of money awarded in a car accident case will be influenced by such factors as:
- The nature of your injury
- Your medical bills
- Your ability to earn money (lost wages)
- Your age, gender and long-term health status
If your case involves significant injuries or if those injuries have lingering consequences, you’ll likely be seeking compensation in addition to your medical bills. You may also ask for compensation for lost wages while recovering from those injuries, such as being unable to work due to pain caused by whiplash. This kind of additional compensation might be referred to as “non-economic damages.”
What are the stages of a car accident lawsuit?
Filing a claim
When you’re in an accident, you’ll typically want to contact your insurance company immediately. They’ll be able to advise you of your next move and how much compensation you might be entitled to receive if your car was damaged or destroyed. You might also choose not to file a claim at this time, especially if the other driver was at fault and there’s no question that they will pay for the damages.
Once you’ve decided whether it’s worth filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, it’s time for both parties’ lawyers to begin working on your case! While insurance companies may try their best to avoid legal action through settlement talks and friendly negotiation before going into court proceedings, most cases end up involving lawyers representing each party involved. These are complicated matters with many factors involved: determining liability; assessing damage amounts; assessing past medical expenses; investigating whether any safety equipment failed (such as seatbelts); determining which injuries were sustained during impact; etcetera—in short order we’d be talking about thousands upon thousands of pages of paperwork!
What if I don’t want to accept the settlement offer?
If you don’t want to accept the offer, you have several options.
- You can turn down the offer and wait for a jury to decide how much money you will receive.
- If you reject the offer, it is likely that your case will go to trial. This means that other people involved in your accident will be called as witnesses on behalf of the plaintiff or the defendant. Witnesses tell their stories under oath so that they can be cross-examined by opposing counsel. The judge decides if those witness accounts are true and if they support both sides equally well. However, this process can take a long time—sometimes years—and there is no guarantee of success for either party at any point during this process!
The case may be settled or you may be able to sue for additional damages.
A settlement is a private agreement between the parties, reached before or after filing a lawsuit. The party requesting compensation often makes their demand in court documents called “complaints,” while defendants respond with claims of their own. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may need to negotiate directly with the liable party’s insurance company if they refuse to offer fair compensation. If this happens, a lawyer can help you reach an acceptable settlement amount that reflects your injuries and prevents further legal action against them. Settlements happen outside of courtrooms through negotiation and compromise—not a victory for one side over another.
If you have been in an accident, it is important that you are aware of your options. There are many factors that will affect the outcome of your case. It is highly recommended that you speak to an experienced attorney. Schedule your free initial consultation about your car accident claim by contacting The Holman Law Firm.