Car accidents, both major and minor, are an everyday occurrence. There were over 5 million motor vehicle crashes recorded in 2020. 99.5 percent of these were non-fatal. The remaining half percent were not so lucky.
The NHTSA, or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, released data in 2020 that motor vehicle crashes accounted for 38,824 deaths out of 35,766 accidents. Since then, the NHTSA has seen an increase in the fatal collision average. The governmental body estimates a rise of 7% in car accident deaths in 2022. It is the most significant increase the country has seen since 2022. The NHTSA noted that the numbers are trending in an unacceptable direction.
Depending on the seriousness of the incident, the economic cost of car accidents can range from a few thousand dollars to 1 million dollars. Most car accident victims desire recourse through insurance payouts or settlements to recover their losses due to the mishap. Car accident cases end up costing the victims’ families a lot.
Anyone can get in a car crash, but some are life-changing. It’s only prudent that the victim’s families seek all the help they can get when recovering from the person responsible or the insurance company.
While most car accidents happen in the blink of an eye, the aftermath continues for an extended period. Car accident settlements can take weeks to wrap up to years of negotiations. There is no clear time frame. Complicated accidents without a clear indication of the at-fault parties can delay compensation for an extended period. The time it takes to sort liabilities out can be an ordeal for victims and their families.
The Personal Injury Center can connect you with someone who will guide you through the complex matters of personal injury cases and car accident settlements from a legal perspective. The Personal Injury Center offers free consultations. Experienced personal injury attorneys and law firms can help you achieve a desirable settlement for your car accident.
Overview of the Car Accident Settlement Process
Many factors come into play in the settlement process of car accidents. Some parties quickly agree on settlement offers, while others barely budge, preferring to take their chances in court. Different factors play a role in the car accident settlement process. These include injuries sustained by the victim, property damages, incidental expenses, and insurance coverage.
Finding out what mainly happened to the victim is vital to maximizing what they can get from the settlement offer. During negotiations, parties scrutinize both physical and non-physical injuries.
You may also demand compensation for property damages in a claim. Property damage-only accidents make up the majority of car crashes in the US. One example is someone losing control of a vehicle, destroying fences or front lawns.
Incidental expenses usually go unnoticed and unaccounted for in the event of an accident when negotiating a settlement. These include travel to the health care provider, parking fees, ambulance costs, and car towing/hauling fees. Many need to quantify these ancillary expenses as receipts are often lost, misplaced, or not collected. However, these small costs can add up to a significant total.
Insurance coverage also plays a massive role in the negotiations. Your insurance companies can offer different amounts depending on the coverage policy and the nature of the incident. Some go out of their way to personally investigate the matter to minimize settlement offers.
Maximizing your settlement offer depends on what you do right after the incident. Prudence requires that you gather all the information necessary to support your car accident claim. It would be best to do so at the earliest opportunity, even before a car accident lawsuit begins.
Immediately after the accident
Medical attention is often a requisite, especially in serious car accidents. You need to contact emergency services immediately to ensure the health of everyone involved, regardless of fault. Delaying medical care may worsen apparent injuries and result in long-term health issues.
Prioritizing the physical safety of everyone is essential. Take non-disabled persons from the crash site and alert incoming traffic of the accident with traffic cones or warning triangles.
Gathering relevant evidence helps support your injury claim. Documenting what transpired can help maximize what you can claim from the insurance company or the other parties involved. Collecting police reports, witness statements, and medical expense records can give you leverage in negotiating a settlement.
Lastly, you mustn’t sign any document from the insurance company without the benefit of a lawyer’s advice. The last thing you need is to find out you signed a release document, severely limiting your chances to claim the maximum amount possible. At-fault drivers usually try to make a quick settlement work, despite the actual injuries costing car accident victims much more.
Days after the accident
All parties should seek medical attention, as some injuries appear hours or weeks after the accident. Serious injuries like whiplash, concussion, and internal bleeding may not show symptoms at the onset of the accident. Have a doctor give you a complete physical examination to diagnose and treat underlying injuries before they worsen.
Delaying medical help can also affect your insurance claim negatively. Getting medical attention after the incident can help establish a clear connection between the injuries and the auto accident.
Contact your insurance company after collecting the other party’s contact information. Your insurance company can file the claim and work with the different insurance companies on your behalf.
Know your rights and determine liabilities by consulting your lawyer. Determining liability is difficult, especially if there are multiple parties involved. A car accident lawyer can help get the best settlement offer possible. A lawyer is also necessary to protect your rights and interests throughout the settlement process.
Once you have a plan, you can negotiate and reach an agreement with the other parties involved. The negotiation process involves discussing the facts of the accident, your insurance claims, and your injuries with the other party’s insurance company.
The goal is to agree on the amount of compensation you are entitled to based on the evidence presented. Your car accident lawyer can represent you during this process and help you negotiate a fair settlement offer.
Suppose you cannot settle through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution. In that case, your only option is to take your claim to court. That means filing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party to seek compensation for the severe injuries and damages you sustained in the car accident.
Factors That Affect the Settlement Process
The time a claimant waits to receive an acceptable settlement offer varies from case to case. Since no two cases are the same, different factors can influence the final resolution. These factors include the willingness of the parties to cooperate, the extent of injuries and property damages, and the proportion of liability.
Auto settlement processes can take weeks or months. Sometimes, these negotiations cross over to a trial, which prolongs claims even more. There is no assurance that your case will settle.
The goal of settlement negotiations is to receive compensation faster than going through a trial. Trials can take even longer than settlement proceedings. Unfortunately, several factors can impact the speed and outcome of your car accident settlement.
Injuries and medical treatment
The type and extent of your injuries because of the accident will likely dictate the settlement amount you can recover. It’s essential to keep all your medical records and medical bills. Documentation is crucial in accounting during car accident settlement proceedings.
The settlement amount for the accident also depends on whether the injured party has reached maximum medical improvement or MMI. It is the point where the victim has finally stabilized and is unlikely to receive further improvement through medical treatment.
Once an injured party reaches MMI, they can more accurately assess the overall impact of their injuries. The settlement offer may change after considering the full extent of the injuries sustained.
Pain and suffering can be claimed as part of injury costs if you can document them properly. Proving that you incurred non-physical suffering can help boost what you seek in a settlement proceeding.
Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging. In most cases, the insurance company of the person responsible for the accident conducts the settlement negotiations. The at-fault party’s insurance policy regarding car accidents sets certain limitations. Generally, settlement offers are only within the policy limits.
Making your demand official is the correct step forward. Before talking with the insurance companies, sign and prepare the necessary forms and demand letters. Seek the advice of a lawyer to help draft important documents to strengthen your claim. You must detail all the essential elements of your car accident, including copies of the reports and associated documentation.
Going to trial
Once you take a settlement check, filing a case against the defending party is usually impossible, save for a few exceptions. Opposing parties’ willingness to negotiate and reach a mutually acceptable resolution is not always guaranteed.
The possibility of going to trial and through the court system increases the pressure on the at-fault party to enter settlement negotiations. The uncertainties associated with a trial may encourage a responsible person to seek an agreement. Settlement offers will likely limit their financial exposure and negative publicity.
Taking the settlement amount as early as possible for the victim might be beneficial in the long run. Trials often take many months before resolution. Even if you win, there is no guarantee you will get a fair award.
A personal injury lawyer can help you through the ordeal. Any legal advice an experienced professional gives will push you in the right direction. Being a lawyer mandated to protect their client relationship, your trusted lawyer will use every possible angle to pursue your personal injury claims.
Did you know?
In 2020, motor vehicle accidents accounted for 1.6 million injuries and 35 thousand fatalities.
Get a Fair Settlement Offer With the Help of The Personal Injury Center
Car accidents happen, unfortunately. Most people walk away unscathed, but some are not so lucky. A car accident can leave them disabled and destitute, with no opportunity to recoup their losses.
If you sustained serious losses from a negligent car accident, seek guidance from a lawyer who can address your needs. An experienced car accident attorney can help guide you through personal injury, car accident settlements, dealing with insurance companies, and the rigors of negotiations and trials.
The Personal Injury Center offers a free case evaluation to match you with the appropriate lawyer or law firm.
A fair settlement offer is within reach with the help of The Personal Injury Center. Secure the services of a skilled car accident lawyer today.
FAQs on Car Accident Settlements
Who is the party at fault in a car accident?
Determining the party at fault requires a thorough investigation. The fault is typically attributable to the driver. However, car manufacturers, car owners, and government bodies may also be liable parties, depending on the circumstances of the incident.
Do you need to hire a lawyer for a car accident settlement?
Hiring a lawyer is not required to settle with another party. However, hiring one is advisable. They can protect your rights and ensure you get the best possible settlement.
How much do lawyers get from a car accident settlement?
Lawyers that work on contingency get 30% of the amount negotiated typically in the settlement process. Other arrangements may also apply, depending on the lawyer or law firm. For example, a law firm may charge acceptance and hourly fees. Before hiring a lawyer, ensure you have a written agreement regarding what you must pay.