The US has one of the busiest roadways in the world. With about 284 million vehicles operating on roads, the state has an unsurprisingly high rate of road traffic accidents. These crashes are among the leading causes of death for individuals under 55.
A vast portion of motor vehicle accident deaths happens among occupants of passenger vehicles. A total of 54 272 vehicles were involved in fatal collisions. Of these crashes, 76% were passenger vehicles, which resulted in the deaths of 23 824 occupants.
Passenger vehicles like cars, minivans, pickups, and SUVs are more prone to fatal crashes. With less structure to absorb the crash impact, they’re more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities. Regardless of this, all types of auto accidents have the potential to be catastrophic.
Car accident injuries may leave victims with permanent disabilities, preventing them from returning to work. This can have emotional and financial consequences in the long term. The injured person may be able to recover compensation for the resulting injuries and other losses from auto accidents.
Generally, there are two options for car accident victims. You can either file a car accident settlement or pursue a lawsuit. Sometimes, settling with the at-fault party’s insurance company is less complex than filing a court case.
Insurance companies often prefer to settle to protect their bottom line and pay as little as possible. By working with a personal injury lawyer, you can receive the maximum settlement amount for your auto accident claim.
Finding a personal injury attorney specializing in car accident cases can be tricky. However, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem when you visit The Personal Injury Center. We offer a free consultation to match you with an experienced car accident lawyer.
Car Accident Settlement vs. Car Accident Lawsuit
Understanding when to settle and sue is crucial to get the maximum compensation you legally deserve. Basically, a personal injury lawyer knows when a settlement offer is fair. They can also work out when your auto accident case is solid enough for a lawsuit.
In many instances, settling may result in a better outcome. However, several factors can make taking a car accident case to trial more favorable. Suppose an attorney believes your claim is worth more than the at-fault driver’s insurance company’s settlement offer. In that case, they will likely advise you to file a personal injury lawsuit.
To better understand your option, learn the risks and rewards of a car accident settlement or lawsuit below.
Settling a car accident claim
An auto accident settlement is an agreement between the victim and the negligent party’s car insurance company. It means resolving your case without going to court. Settling a car accident claim involves several rounds of negotiation.
Typically, the injured person submits a request for compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. Settling a car accident out of court often makes the most sense for the following reasons:
- You don’t want to incur legal costs
- You need money quickly
- You want to keep the details of the case private and confidential
- You prefer to control the outcome of your case and not leave it to a judge or jury
- You already signed a settlement agreement, making it final and may not be challenged or appealed
But there are some situations where an out-of-court settlement may not be the best course of action. The insurance adjuster will investigate whether to accept or deny your claim. They may be unwilling to offer a fair settlement.
Note that the settlement agreement is a compromise. Thus, you’ll have to accept a lower than the amount you would get in a lawsuit. A car accident lawyer can help you decide whether or not settling out of court is in your best interest.
Filing a car accident lawsuit
Settlement negotiations may not always work. The at-fault party and their auto insurance company may refuse to accept responsibility for your injuries or losses. They may offer you a low settlement that you’re unwilling to accept.
In such cases, taking your car accident case to court may be more reasonable. One of its most significant benefits is you may get higher compensation than the insurance provider was willing to offer. It will give you a better chance of recovering your out-of-pocket costs.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit for your auto accident case is often favorable from a financial perspective. But it also comes with associated risks. Before you decline a settlement offer and choose to go to trial, be aware of the following disadvantages:
- Other people control the outcome of a lawsuit, such as a judge or a jury
- You may spend a significant portion of your compensation on legal costs
- The case may take months or years before you get a final verdict
- You risk the possibility of losing the trial and receiving no compensation
Considering whether the stress and cost of filing a lawsuit are worth the potential award if your case wins is crucial. A car accident attorney can advise you if you should accept a settlement or go to court.
Understanding the Car Accident Settlement Process
The majority of auto accident cases are resolved through settlement negotiations. Settling out of court is a simple and low-cost way to resolve disputes between the injured person and the at-fault party. It also helps them avoid the emotional toll of a car accident lawsuit.
But a personal injury settlement process can also be complex. Understanding how it works is a great way to minimize stress and impatience. To obtain the maximum auto accident settlement amount, you should prepare to go through the following steps:
Review the state’s car insurance policy
Insurance policy limits can significantly affect the potential payout in your auto accident settlement. It would help to verify your state’s car insurance policy before making a claim. State laws will also determine who is liable to pay for medical expenses, property damage, and other losses in a car accident.
You should also review the amount of insurance coverage so you’ll obtain the maximum amount of compensation. Insurance adjusters will check the client’s policy coverage when reviewing your claim.
File a claim with the insurance company
Contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company right after the car crash. Remember to get the other driver’s insurance information so you can reach out to them easily.
After collecting the evidence and knowing the full extent of your injuries and losses, you can file your claim. This is to inform the insurance provider that their insured drivers caused you harm and that you intend to pursue damages.
Provide the necessary documentation
Submitting a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company is the first step when filing a car accident settlement. It typically contains the crash details, the severity of your injuries and losses, and the settlement amount you want.
You should provide the necessary evidence to prove your claim. Include copies of the police report, medical bills and records, and other relevant documentation supporting your case.
Wait for the results of the insurance company’s investigation
After you file the personal injury claim, the insurance company will investigate the circumstances of your car accident. They will assess liability and determine the resulting total damages. Remember that the insurance adjuster is not your friend. That’s why having an attorney is crucial in a car crash investigation.
Negotiate a fair settlement amount
After investigating your accident and claim, the insurance company will respond to your demand letter. They will likely dispute your claims, offer a lower settlement than you requested, or deny compensation.
This is where the negotiation begins. Depending on the insurance company’s arguments, you may have to collect more evidence to prove your claim. An experienced car accident lawyer knows the tactics of insurance companies, so you need them to negotiate a fair settlement amount.
Calculating the Average Car Accident Settlement Amount
The basis for calculating every car accident settlement is the specific circumstances of the collision. Insurance companies may use numerous different calculation methods. Thus, there’s no way to determine the exact settlement value of a car accident case.
But understanding what influences your compensation can give you a better idea of what your case will be worth. Below are some factors that can maximize or lower your auto accident settlement amount.
These refer to all direct expenses incurred because of your car accident injuries. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, lost income, physical therapy costs, and property damage.
Most states don’t impose caps on economic damages, meaning you can pursue full compensation for the monetary losses related to your accident. However, some states may have limits on what damages you can recover.
These refer to the intangible losses of your car accident case, such as emotional distress and pain, and suffering. But since they significantly impact the injured person’s quality of life, they’re essential to your settlement value.
A handful of states place caps on non-economic damages for auto accident claims. Remember that these losses are more subjective and difficult to quantify. Thus, the compensation you can get for non-economic damages may vary, depending on the effects of the injuries.
Insurance policy limits
The insurance policy limits are another factor in your settlement amount. It dictates how much an insurance provider can pay for auto accident settlements. Suppose the monetary expenses and intangible losses exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits. In that case, it can be hard to seek additional compensation.
Degree of fault in the accident
The degree of fault in the car crash also affects your auto accident settlement amount. Some states follow the comparative negligence rule, which means you can still pursue compensation even if you’re partially at fault. However, the court will reduce your settlement by the same percentage of your fault. Let’s say you’re 30% at fault for the crash. In this case, you would still recover 70% of the settlement.
Some states follow the contributory negligence rules, which means you cannot recover damages if you are even one percent at fault. If you live in these states, hiring an experienced lawyer is critical. They can ensure the defendant fails in falsely attributing any responsibility to you.
How can an attorney help you get the maximum car accident settlement?
Settling your car crash without an attorney is possible, but you may not recover the full amount you should get. Even in minor accidents involving a straightforward claim, the services of a personal injury lawyer can give you an advantage.
Here’s how car accident attorneys can help injured victims get the maximum settlement for an auto accident.
Conduct a thorough car crash investigation
A thorough investigation is one of the most critical aspects of any auto accident. The insurance companies will investigate your case. However, there’s no substitute for a knowledgeable and hands-on examination by a car accident lawyer.
Attorneys don’t simply rely on the accident report of investigating officers. They will examine everything with their resources and experiences to build a solid case in your favor.
Determine and prove liability in an auto accident
Most auto accidents occur because someone made a mistake or acted negligently. But determining and proving who was responsible for a car crash can be challenging. States may have different rules on liability and negligence, which can affect your claim.
In some instances, there may be more than one at-fault party. A car accident attorney knowledgeable of the state and local laws can help you demonstrate who is legally at fault. They will gather all the necessary evidence and documentation to compensate you appropriately.
Know what you’re legally entitled to recover
The at-fault driver’s auto insurance company may act in bad faith and wrongfully refuse your claim. Some insurance adjusters may harass you to accept their lowball offer. Without a knowledgeable attorney in your corner, fighting for the compensation you truly deserve can be challenging.
You have a better chance of getting fair compensation if you have a car accident attorney representing you. They know what to consider when calculating the actual value of your value, from the necessary medical care to future compromised income.
Handle paperwork and legal filings
Settling a car accident case involves filing considerable paperwork within a reasonable time. For instance, some insurance providers have a limited time frame to allow injured victims to file a personal injury claim. Failure to do so in time may invalidate your case.
A car accident lawyer knows the statute of limitations of your case and ensures you meet all the legal requirements. They will prepare the necessary documents and file the personal injury claim in the appropriate civil court.
Litigate your case when necessary
Some auto accidents don’t resolve with an insurance claim. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to file a car accident lawsuit to recover the compensation you legally deserve. This can be daunting, particularly if you have no legal experience.
A car accident attorney can litigate your case when necessary. They will represent you in court and provide the proepr evidence at trial. While you recover from auto accident injuries, an experienced lawyer will effectively advocate for your legal rights.
Getting prompt medical care is crucial for a maximum auto accident settlement. The insurance company may argue that delayed treatment worsened your car accident injuries. Whether you feel injured or not, you must see a doctor to protect your health and legal rights.
Hurt in an Auto Accident? Ensure a Fair Settlement With a Lawyer
Holding off contacting a lawyer after getting injured in a car crash can be tempting. But this may cause you to make choices that lower your chances of obtaining the proper compensation. Although not seeking legal assistance seems more economical, working with an experienced car accident attorney is in your best interest.
A lawyer knows how to maximize the value of your auto accident case. Contact The Personal Injury Center today and find the best legal help you need. We can easily connect you to a reliable law firm with skilled car accident lawyers through a free case evaluation.
Protect your legal rights with the help of The Personal Injury Center. Connect with a skilled lawyer for your car accident injury.
FAQs on Auto Accident Settlement
How long will settling a car accident claim take?
The timeline for a car accident claim depends on the specific circumstances of your case. Typically, straightforward claims with clear-cut damages settle in months. However, other claims may take years before they resolve.
What are the most common car accident injuries?
A car accident can inflict severe injuries on almost any body part. But the most common types of injuries suffered by car crash victims are the following:
- Scrapes and cuts
- Bone fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Arm and leg injuries
What qualities should you consider when hiring a car accident attorney?
Finding a lawyer for your auto accident case can be challenging if you don't have the proper criteria. Below are a few qualities of a competent and successful car accident attorney.
- Has extensive knowledge and experience handling personal injury cases
- Always available and has a support team to keep you updated at all times
- Possesses excellent communication skills and attention to detail
- Offers a reliable and convenient mode of communication with clients
- Consistently has positive reviews from their clients