How Does the Car Accident Settlement Process Work?

Suffering injuries during an automobile accident can be devastating. If you suffered an injury due to the negligence of the other driver, you could pursue financial compensation for your personal injuries. By asserting a personal injury claim, you seek compensation to pay for lost wages, medical bills, as well as pain and suffering. You may have spent months or years recovering from the injuries you sustained during a crash. It is important to understand every stage of the car accident settlement process works.

The settlement process is much more complex than simply sending an insurance claim to the insurer of the driver who caused your injuries. Insurance companies will spend time investigating the accident and negotiating with your car accident lawyer. If the insurance company does not agree to pay a reasonable settlement amount, it may be necessary to initiate a civil lawsuit and pursue litigation.

Some personal injury settlements are resolved sooner than others. Every accident is unique, and the facts specific to your accident will likely dictate whether your attorney can reach a quick settlement with an insurance company. If you retain a knowledgeable California car accident lawyer, you can make sure that you are doing everything within your power to obtain a reasonable settlement to compensate you for your injuries and the expenses associated with your recovery.

How Does the Automobile Accident Settlement Process Work?

How Does the Automobile Accident Settlement Process WorkSettlement agreements are signed by the insurance company and the injured party. The insurer is sought to provide financial compensation for the injured party’s injuries. Settlement agreements can save time, money, and court resources.

A verdict is not the same thing as a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement may be signed before a complaint is filed or in the middle of litigation. Sometimes it can be beneficial to proceed to trial rather than settle a personal injury claim.

To better understand how the car accident settlement process works, it’s recommended to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. They can help you evaluate your options, negotiate with the insurance company, and provide representation in court if necessary.

How Information Plays an Important Role in Automobile Accident Settlement Agreements

It can be difficult to understand everything you need to do to be successful in pursuing monetary compensation for your injuries. You may still be recovering from your injuries, but you should wait until you are healed to begin working on your personal injury claim. The following are some of the steps you should take after suffering injuries during a car accident: 

  • Inform your insurance company of the details regarding the automobile accident
  • Provide a statement to the law enforcement officers at the accident scene. Also, file a police report after the accident.
  • Observe the area around the accident scene and search for surveillance cameras that may have recorded the accident. Call the businesses that may have video surveillance footage of the accident that caused your injuries.
  • Obtain the personal contact information of all witnesses who were not participants in the wreck.
  • Obtain the personal contact information of all passengers who were in your automobile at the time of the accident.
  • Obtain the personal contact information and insurance details for all other drivers who were participants in the accident.
  • Photograph the scene of the accident, and also photograph any property damage that occurred during the accident.

These important pieces of information will benefit you when you assert your personal injury claim against the responsible party. Also, seeing a physician as soon as possible after the accident will help you establish proof of your injuries. Even if you do not feel injured, you should visit a physician. An examination can provide you with details regarding your injuries and how to treat them. Traumatic brain injuries and whiplash may not produce immediate symptoms, and it is important to receive medical treatment for these problems as soon as possible.

The following are some of the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries and whiplash: 

  • Problems with concentration and sustained attention
  • Memory loss
  • Headaches

Document your injuries, any treatment you receive, and any medical care you undergo as you heal from your injuries. You may have many expenses associated with the medical care you receive. You should keep records of any surgeries you receive as part of your medical treatment. Also, make sure to keep records of all property damage to your vehicle. It is advisable to obtain two property damage estimates from reliable professionals. These documents and records will help you obtain the most financial compensation for your injuries. Settlement negotiations often focus on the amounts contained in medical records and medical bills.

Notify the negligent driver’s insurance company of the accident immediately and make sure they are aware of the accident. You need to notify the negligent driver’s insurance company that you have a personal injury claim and a property damage claim. You do not have to give the negligent driver’s insurance company a detailed account of the accident. You simply want to put the insurance company on notice regarding your personal injury claim and your property damage claim.

It is generally not a good idea for you to attempt to work on the claims process alone without the help of a personal injury attorney. Insurance company representatives will contact you and attempt to settle the claim but understand that insurance companies will attempt to place the least amount of financial compensation for your injuries. A skilled car accident attorney can help you hold insurance companies accountable. You should make sure that you receive the maximum monetary compensation for your injuries. Therefore, it’s important to ask your attorney questions like “How does the car accident settlement process work?” to fully understand the process and your rights.

Settlement Negotiations Begin After the Car Accident

After you inform the negligent driver’s insurance company about the accident and your personal injury claim, you will realize why it was important for you to collect evidence in the days after the accident. Once you retain an accident attorney, you will review the medical bills and other documents associated with your case. The attorney will submit a demand letter to the insurance company containing a computation of damages regarding your accident. Expenses, lost wages, medical bills, and other costs will be tabulated in the demand letter. It is possible that the negligent driver does not have automobile liability insurance.

A driver may have given you inaccurate information regarding an insurance policy. However, even if the negligent driver is insured, it is likely that the policy limits associated with the insurance policy are too low to compensate you for your personal injuries and property damage. You will need to file an insurance claim with your insurer against an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy. To do so, you can contact your insurance company to file the insurance claim.

If you have never spoken to an insurance claim adjuster before, you will soon learn that your own insurance company attempts to pay you less than the total claim amount. A personal injury attorney can work with your insurance company to pursue the compensation you deserve.

The insurance claims adjuster for the negligent driver’s insurance company will reach out to your attorney after the demand letter is transmitted. However, sometimes an insurance company will send you an estimate of your claim before you send the demand letter. The insurance company will likely offer you a low settlement offer. The insurance company will give you a reservation of rights document. The reservation of rights document acknowledges that they received your claim and will talk about the claim with you, but they do not accept that the asserted claim is correct.

Insurance companies are in the business of making a profit. The insurance claims adjuster will attempt to offer the lowest settlement offer because that will increase the profits of the insurance company. Insurance companies do not make money when they pay money on insurance claims. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will not offer a higher settlement amount.

Small claims will often settle quicker. However, if you have suffered severe injuries and undergone extensive surgeries, the insurance claims adjuster will probably offer a reasonable settlement amount. It is important to remember that the insurance company is a business acting in its best interest. But if you do not receive a reasonable settlement offer, a car accident attorney can initiate a civil lawsuit by filing a complaint. Not all civil cases proceed to trial. The vast majority of all civil cases settle or are resolved through mediation or arbitration. Settlement discussions can occur at any time, and many civil lawsuits have settled on the eve of trial. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering how the car accident settlement process works.

Knowing Your Options

As an accident victim, you can choose from two options when you seek financial compensation for your injuries. First, you can speak with the negligent party and their insurer while you negotiate a settlement amount. Second, you can file a civil lawsuit to hold the negligent party liable for your injuries. Whichever option you choose will determine how long it takes to resolve your personal injury claim.

Settlement Negotiations

You did not ask to suffer injuries during an accident. You can seek financial compensation for your injuries, and you have a legal right to assert a damages claim. The insurance claim is not a civil lawsuit. The insurance claim is transmitted to the negligent driver’s insurer. The insurance claim sets forth a detailed account of the injuries you suffered, and it asserts how the negligent party caused your injuries.

The representatives of the insurance company will scrutinize the demand and will offer to pay the amount requested, assert an alternative amount, or ignore the demand altogether. Most insurance companies will either offer a low settlement amount or ignore the demand letter.

Retaining a personal injury attorney is important because you need to have a legal professional on your side who understands the techniques used by insurance companies. Insurance company representatives will attempt to offer you less monetary compensation than you deserve.

Choosing not to seek legal representation means that you will be forced to accept whatever settlement offer is forthcoming from the insurance company. If you do not assert your legal rights, you will walk away with a low settlement amount, and you will not be compensated for the full extent of your personal injuries and your property damage. If you’re wondering how the car accident settlement process works, it’s important to speak with a car accident attorney who can help you understand your legal options and advocate for your rights.

Many insurance companies attempt to settle accident claims quickly to avoid paying high settlement amounts. If you are offered an insurance settlement from an insurance company, you should seek out legal advice before you accept any offers. By speaking with a knowledgeable accident attorney, you can stand up to the insurance companies and pursue the financial compensation you deserve.

Civil Lawsuits

Many people are intimidated by the legal system, and it can take up more of your time and resources to proceed with a civil lawsuit. But if you’re wondering how the car accident settlement process works, seeking legal representation can increase your chances of receiving a reasonable settlement. A personal injury attorney will examine the facts of your case and file a document called a complaint against the defendant. Filing the complaint begins a civil lawsuit.

Approximately ninety-five percent of all civil lawsuits are resolved through settlement negotiations, mediation, or arbitration. A civil lawsuit can settle at any period during the civil lawsuit. You can choose to enter settlement negotiations with the defendant.

You might achieve a higher settlement amount if you decline the defendant’s settlement offers. Most personal injury cases are resolved over a period of months or years.

Personal Injury Claims

When you initiate a civil lawsuit, a personal injury attorney will help you calculate your damages. The following are the types of damages you may include in the complaint: 

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Lental suffering
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability benefits
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage repair bills
  • Medical bills

To understand how the car accident settlement process works, it’s important to know that the negligent driver’s insurance company is the entity that will most likely pay the damages amount. As the injured party, you will file a personal injury claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company.

Retaining an Accident Attorney and Recovering Financial Compensation

Insurance companies utilize many different tactics to delay the recovery process for accident victims. Many insurance company representatives will increase the total amount of time your claim remains active. Also, insurance claim adjusters will attempt to offer you low settlement amounts that are insufficient to cover the costs of your medical bills.

Attempting to stand up to the insurance companies alone is extremely frustrating because the insurance companies only care about increasing their profits. Retaining an accident attorney can remove some of the stress and anxiety caused by dealing with insurance companies. You can focus on recovering from your injuries while your accident attorney negotiates with the insurance company.

Collect Insurance Information

After you check yourself for serious injuries, you should obtain the negligent driver’s automobile liability insurance information at the accident scene. You should not make any statements regarding your liability, and you should be direct. Request the name of the driver, their telephone number, and their automobile liability insurance information. Also, make sure that you give this same information to the negligent driver. If the driver is being rude, or if you need help, contact a law enforcement agency.

You should also contact law enforcement officers if you suspect that the negligent driver appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also, take photographs of your automobile at the accident scene to document the property damage. If law enforcement officers make a police report, you should request a copy of the police report.

Contact the Negligent Driver’s Insurance Company

If you’re wondering how the car accident settlement process works in California, it’s important to know that it’s an at-fault insurance state. Therefore, you should contact the insurance company that insures the negligent driver and initiate the claim process.

You can find the insurance carrier’s telephone number on the insurance company’s website or on the card provided to you by the negligent driver. When you are providing information regarding your claim to the negligent party’s insurance company, you should speak in as much detail as possible. You should discuss the parties involved, the injuries you sustained, and exactly how the negligent driver was responsible for causing the accident.

It is in your best interest not to make wild guesses if you do not know the answer to a question. You should provide the facts that you know to be true. If the insurance agent does not specifically ask for information, do not provide information about your own liability.

Communicating With the Insurance Claim Adjuster

The negligent driver’s insurance company will provide you with an insurance claim adjuster to work with you regarding your insurance claim. The insurance claim adjuster will analyze the facts of the case and determine whether or not to approve the insurance claim. Most insurance claim adjusters work on approximately four cases every month.

As a victim in the accident, you will know more details about the incident and how it occurred. You should not take a low settlement offer simply because an insurance claim adjuster asserts that the settlement amount is reasonable. The following tips will help you as you speak to an insurance claim adjuster: 

  • Contact a personal injury attorney before you accept a settlement offer.
  • Never accept the first settlement offer you receive.
  • Focus on providing direct responses to questions.
  • Avoid speculating, lying, and exaggerating.
  • Wait to discuss your injuries until you have seen a physician.
  • Never admit liability or apologize for the accident.
  • Never provide a recorded statement to the insurance company.

It is important to remember that you can make a demand for the financial compensation you believe you deserve. Insurance claim adjusters may request documents related to your injuries and your medical treatment. Also, you will need to provide receipts related to automobile repairs. An insurance claim adjuster may provide you with a reasonable settlement offer after reviewing the documents related to your personal injuries and your property damage.

It is possible for you to continue negotiating for a higher settlement amount, or you may accept the insurance claim adjuster’s settlement offer. Also, you can retain a  reputable car accident attorney to help you seek financial compensation for your injuries.

Discuss a Fair Case Resolution

Individuals are typically advised to contact a personal injury attorney near them if they have suffered serious bodily injury or if someone died due to the accident. Recovering from physical and emotional injuries takes time, and it can be helpful to have an attorney handle the negotiation and paperwork for you. A personal injury attorney will work with the insurance claim adjuster so that a reasonable and fair settlement amount is at the center of the negotiations.

A personal injury attorney can file a complaint on your behalf if the settlement negotiations are not productive. It may be possible for a personal injury attorney to conduct a trial and obtain financial compensation for your injuries. Litigation will take more time than settlement negotiations. By settling a personal injury claim, the injured party can receive a payment within three months. Proceeding to litigation can mean that an injured party will not receive any payment for a year or more. Speaking with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you understand the best options available to you and your family.

Automobile Accidents: Duty to Report

Many states mandate that drivers involved in automobile accidents must report the accidents to the state highway patrol, county sheriff’s office, or a local law enforcement agency. Also, other states may make it mandatory that a traffic report regarding the accident is created if any person suffers serious bodily injury or dies during an accident. It may also be required to create a report if serious property damage occurs due to the accident. The specific reporting requirements are unique to every state.

How Does Automobile Liability Insurance Impact the Accident Settlement Process?

Every state in the country except New Hampshire and Virginia requires all drivers to have automobile liability insurance. Two systems exist in the United States regarding automobile accidents: (1) the at-fault system and (2) the no-fault system.

The automobile accident settlement process will vary depending on whether a state follows an at-fault system or a no-fault system.

At-Fault System

The majority of states in the country adhere to the at-fault system, meaning that the individual who is responsible for the accident is liable for damages. Once you establish that the other driver was at-fault, the following three options become available to you: 

  1. File a civil lawsuit against the negligent driver;
  2. File a third-party claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company; or
  3. File an insurance claim with your insurance company.

If you choose to file a civil lawsuit against the negligent party, you should be aware that it then becomes possible for the other party to file a cross-complaint or counterclaim against you.

No-Fault System

A party can obtain special damages no matter who was responsible for causing the automobile accident. The insurance company that insures you must pay you for the personal injuries you suffered up to the policy limit of your insurance policy. If you reside in a no-fault state, you cannot file a civil lawsuit against the negligent driver, but the negligent driver is also prevented from suing you.

The Consequences of Not Reaching a Settlement Agreement

The Consequences of Not Reaching a Settlement AgreementYou may send a demand letter that contains a computation of damages and receive an unreasonable settlement offer from the insurance claim adjuster. However, you do not have to accept a low settlement offer. Providing the insurance claim adjuster with more evidence regarding the accident and your injuries will help you obtain a higher settlement offer from the insurance company. It is important to gather this evidence together and preserve it so you can present it to the insurance company.

If you still cannot reach a settlement agreement, and you have been reasonable and conscientious, it may be time to consider filing a civil lawsuit. A reasonable settlement offer should include financial compensation for your pain and suffering and future medical costs associated with your injuries.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that approximately three percent of all personal injury cases proceed to trial. A law review article at Cornell University Law School claimed that the settlement rate for personal injury claims is not higher than ninety percent. The law review article stated that settlement rates for personal injury cases are approximately eighty-seven percent. Other studies report that personal injury settlement rates in the United States are as high as ninety–five percent.

The majority of civil lawsuits settle out of court. The settlement can be reached at any stage of the civil lawsuit, from the initial filing of the complaint all the way up until the jury returns a verdict. Initiating a civil lawsuit does not put an end to settlement negotiations. Oftentimes, the lawsuit is the beginning of the settlement negotiation process.

The Stages of a Civil Lawsuit

The filing of the complaint is the first step of a civil lawsuit. The defendant named in the complaint is the negligent driver who caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The defendant must respond to the complaint within twenty-one days if the complaint is filed in federal court. Some states have longer or shorter periods if the complaint is filed in state court.

The plaintiff is the party who claims to have suffered personal injury and property damage due to the negligence of the defendant. Often, a plaintiff files discovery requests, including interrogatories, requests for production, and requests for admission. Also, the parties depose witnesses during this stage of the civil lawsuit. The discovery phase can last for months or years, depending on the complexity of the case. Expert witnesses are often involved in civil lawsuits.

Trial is the last stage of a civil lawsuit. A personal injury trial may last one or two days. However, some trials may be longer depending on whether expert witnesses testify during the trial. Sometimes a settlement agreement can be reached before trial. If the jury returns a verdict, the party that loses can appeal the judgment. It is important to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney regarding trial, the appeal process, and how most civil lawsuits are resolved through settlement.

Contact Arash Law’s Award-Winning Personal Injury Attorneys in California

Arash Law, led by Arash Khorsandi, Esq., helps injured victims seek financial compensation for their injuries. We have decades of experience representing clients in personal injury cases, including those involving car accidents and the settlement process that follows. Our team is well-versed in how the car accident settlement process works and can guide you through every step of the way. We have recovered over $500 million for clients throughout California. We focus on your case, and we are not afraid to stand up to insurance companies and assert the rights of our clients.

Contact Arash Law, founded by Arash Khorsandi, Esq., at (888) 488-1391 to schedule a free consultation.

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DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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