Safe driving practices can help minimize the risk of auto accidents. Still, no matter how careful you are, the possibility of getting into a car crash exists. In 2021, there were 21,118 passenger cars involved in fatal crashes in the US.
The death of a loved one is among the most devastating consequences of motor vehicle accidents. The physical harm, emotional trauma, and financial burdens resulting from these collisions can also be catastrophic to the injured victims or surviving family members. And all the more so when they involve long-term or permanent disabilities.
Tort laws govern the rights of car accident victims to pursue legal claims against the at-fault driver. It means they can seek monetary compensation for the harm they suffered due to negligence or an intentional act.
A legal basis is crucial to hold someone liable for your car accident injuries and losses. However, determining whether you have a viable case and are qualified for compensation can be complicated.
That’s one reason to consult an attorney after getting hurt in a car accident.
But more importantly, having a lawyer at every stage of the personal injury claim process is valuable in securing rightful compensation. This article further examines the process of filing a personal injury case and why seeking legal help is essential for your car accident claims.
| Key Takeaways |
Overview of the Personal Injury Claim Process in Car Accident Cases
The personal injury claim process can get complex. While the intricacies depend on the case details, the quality of evidence, and the insurance company’s willingness to negotiate, the process almost always adheres to a predictable path.
Equipping yourself with the steps involved in the claims process can help you set realistic expectations. Here’s an overview of how a typical car accident case’s personal injury claim process works:
Filing a claim
Initiating a personal injury claim begins with composing relevant documentation. However, the insurance claim process typically starts with notifying the at-fault driver’s insurance company about the accident.
This step involves sending a demand letter to the insurance provider to formally request compensation for the car accident injuries and losses you sustained.
The demand letter includes:
- The specific circumstances of the auto accident and the parties involved
- A general explanation of the car accident injuries you sustained
- The legal basis for demanding compensation and why the other motorist is liable
- How the accident-related injuries affect your quality of life
- The necessary medical treatment and associated cost
- The amount of income you lost because of time off work
- Proof and documentation demonstrating the other party’s liability for your losses
- The specific amount of payout you demand in the car accident case
Negotiating a settlement
After sending the demand letter, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will investigate how much your case is worth. They often respond to demand letters in one week to eight months, though some insurance providers may ask for additional time to review your case.
Nevertheless, there are expected outcomes after submitting a demand letter in a personal injury claim. The insurance company may not take on liability for its policyholder and refuse your claim. Although some will accept your demand and pay the amount you seek, those are rare.
In most instances, you can expect a counteroffer from the insurer. Some counteroffers may be fair to resolve the matter. But expect the initial settlement offer from the insurer to be much lower than what you demanded and the actual value of your injuries and losses.
Negotiations for a fair settlement may start from here. It’s worth noting that settlement negotiations don’t typically begin until there is sufficient certainty about your medical condition and future medical care. Hence, understanding the extent of your car accident injuries and medical expenses is crucial before negotiating with the insurer.
Going to court
Some car accident cases may be settled after several back-and-forth negotiations. Once the amount and terms of compensation are agreed upon, it’s important to put them in writing.
Both parties must affix their signatures for the agreement to be legally binding. In some jurisdictions, approval from the court or judge may be necessary to make the contract enforceable.
But not all negotiations end in a fair settlement. If that happens, you may file a car accident lawsuit and take your case to court. It will allow each party to present their evidence and arguments to a jury or judge.
Filing a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean your case will proceed to trial, leading to a verdict. Some personal injury cases may be resolved even after initiating a lawsuit, as both parties may still prefer to settle, considering trials can be costly and time-consuming.
The Importance of Legal Help for Injury Claims From Car Accidents
Are you uncertain about hiring a car accident attorney? Many car accident victims, especially those with perceived minor injuries, resist seeking legal assistance for several reasons.
Some mistakenly believe their injuries aren’t severe and that they cannot afford the cost of hiring a lawyer. Others assume they can manage the legal aspects of filing a claim without an attorney.
Whatever the reason, choosing not to obtain legal representation can result in unfavorable outcomes for your final settlement or award. There might be several legal issues you need to be aware of, including pre-existing conditions, shared liability, and insufficient documentation.
You might also have to face pressure from insurers and a motion to dismiss from the at-fault party. Dealing with these matters alone can put you at a significant disadvantage since only experienced lawyers can effectively handle them. So, even if the law doesn’t require hiring an attorney, working with one is always in your best interest.
With their knowledge and experience, attorneys can guarantee the appropriate handling of your case. However, if you need more convincing, we’ll discuss the importance of pursuing legal assistance below.
Establish fault in a motor vehicle crash
It’s imperative to establish fault after a car crash. In some instances, the drivers may agree on who is liable at the scene of the accident.
But most often, determining responsibility in a motor vehicle crash isn’t as simple. Legal proceedings can drag on for several years as the parties involved fight over the question of liability. It’s even more complex when more than one party is legally liable for the car accident.
Most states recognize the principle of comparative negligence, meaning liability can be shared among multiple parties. In these cases, the amount you’re entitled to pursue will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
For example, suppose your total losses amount to $80,000, but the jury finds you 60 percent at fault for the crash. Instead of recovering the total amount, you will only receive 40 percent of the total damages, which in this case is $32,000.
Besides shared liability rules, the state’s at-fault and no-fault insurance laws can also affect your rights to sue the party who caused the accident. In an at-fault state, the insurance carrier of the motorist at fault for the crash will be responsible for paying the losses you sustained.
Conversely, drivers in a no-fault state file their car accident claims with their respective insurance companies, regardless of who is at fault for the crash. They can only sue the at-fault driver if their injuries and losses meet certain conditions or thresholds.
An experienced attorney can assist you in walking through these tricky legalities. Since they know the laws applicable to car accidents, lawyers can better ensure you don’t pay for your medical bills out of pocket.
Collect and preserve the necessary evidence
Like most personal injury cases, the injured victim who files the case carries the burden of proof in a car accident. This means that even if you’re injured, you must provide sufficient evidence proving your lack of fault and the other driver’s liability.
A wealth of evidence is a strong foundation for proving that the party was at fault and the extent of damages you sustained. However, collecting and preserving objective proof can be challenging, especially if you’re severely injured and still recovering.
Recording physical evidence that deteriorates or gets lost quickly is particularly crucial. For instance, security footage is often deleted within 48 hours. Likewise, tire marks on the road eventually fade over time.
You or a family member may attempt to gather and document this evidence. However, it’s easy to miss critical details and types of proof without lawyers’ special training and experience.
Lawyers know what pieces of evidence to collect, including accident reports, police reports, medical treatment documentation, and photos of property damage or vehicle damage. Notably, they’re fully equipped to prevent this proof from being tampered with or destroyed.
Collaborate with different expert witnesses
Attorneys also collaborate with different expert witnesses to assist in proving your case and getting the highest possible settlement.
They engage the services of an expert witness to transform confusing elements into understandable aspects of the claim. For instance, an attorney may hire accident reconstructionists to determine who is at fault for the accident by recreating the crash.
They may also collaborate with medical experts to prove the extent of your injuries. These medical experts may provide testimony on how a serious injury affects your ability to work or perform everyday activities.
A mental health expert may also need to testify about the lasting consequences of the accident or injuries to your well-being. Their diagnosis or testimony may help increase your chances of obtaining monetary compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment.
The specific expert witness needed will vary depending on the circumstances of your car accident case and the elements that need to be proven.
Accurately assess the value of your injuries
After a car accident, you may be unable to anticipate your injuries’ extent and considerable costs. But with a lawyer’s expertise and skills, you can assess the value of your injuries and losses accurately.
Besides conducting an investigation and determining parties liable for the harm you sustained, they’re also skilled at evaluating the maximum compensation you legally deserve. Below are some of the factors attorneys consider when calculating your claim:
- The severity of the injuries and the corresponding medical expenses
- Costs of replacing or repairing the damaged vehicle or property
- Loss of wages resulting from missing time from work after the crash
- Non-economic losses after sustaining the injury, including emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment, and pain and suffering.
Handle negotiations with insurance adjusters
Insurance adjusters may appear sympathetic to your situation but are not your friends. They don’t have your best interests in mind. As well-trained negotiators, their primary goal is to limit your financial recovery and increase the insurance company’s bottom line.
They may employ various tactics to reject or lower the value of your claim and may even convince you to avoid seeking legal help. But the best way to ensure fair treatment is to have a lawyer on your side.
An experienced car accident lawyer can handle negotiations with insurance adjusters and make sure you get the maximum amount you’re entitled to recover. Most car accident settlements rarely exceed the insurance policy limits. When it does, lawyers may help you seek additional compensation through other types of insurance coverage.
File your case within the statute of limitations
Suppose the at-fault driver and their insurance company are unwilling to settle for a reasonable settlement. You may file a lawsuit and take your case to court. But it’s crucial to be mindful of the statute of limitations in a car accident case. It establishes the maximum time you must take legal action to pursue financial recovery for your injuries and losses.
The statute of limitations may differ in each state. Regardless, an attorney will file your case within the specified deadline. Otherwise, the claim may be barred after the statute of limitations expires. There might be specific exceptions, but you still need an attorney to extend the filing date beyond the statutory period.
|Did you know?|
The personal injury awards for all liabilities recorded in 2020 reached $2,448,978. Moreover, the average amount awarded for vehicular liability amounted to $2,673,427.
Connect With a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Claim
Although not required, seeking legal help from the onset can make a big difference in your car accident case. An experienced attorney will handle all the legal aspects of your case as you prioritize your recovery and health after the crash.
Searching for a lawyer you can trust can be overwhelming. Thankfully, The Personal Injury Center is here to help you find the right attorney based on your case and location. Avail of our free case evaluation today to match you with the right lawyer.
Strengthen your personal injury claim from a car accident with an experienced lawyer. Visit The Personal Injury Center for legal assistance.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes. It should not be taken as medical or legal advice. Always consult with a qualified professional for any health or legal concerns.
FAQs on Injury Claims From a Car Accident
What’s the average length of injury claims from a car accident?
The average length of injury claims from a car accident can range from a few months to several years, depending on the case’s specifics. Suppose the injured party and the at-fault party’s insurance company reached a fair settlement. The process of receiving the settlement check may take around four to six weeks.
How much is the typical settlement for car crash cases?
The unique factors of the car crash can influence the settlement amount. But typically, settlements in a car accident can range from $20,000 to $25,000.
What are the basic types of car insurance?
You can purchase many different types of car insurance policies. However, the most basic types include the following:
- Liability coverage
- Personal injury protection
- Collision insurance
- Comprehensive insurance
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage