When you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident due to another driver’s negligence, you’re entitled to pursue compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury claim. Most vehicle accident claims are settled without a lawsuit, with only a small percentage of cases reaching the courts. If your attorney believes that the settlement offer is sufficient compensation for your damages, he may suggest that you accept it.
Vehicle Accident Settlement Process
By filing an insurance claim, you can receive compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering. A fair settlement will compensate you for all of these things in the same way the outcome of a jury trial might. The settlement typically involves a detailed investigation of your accident and negotiation between your lawyer and the insurance company. Injured victims often prefer to settle before going to trial since a favorable outcome in court is never guaranteed. To reach a settlement, your lawyer will:
- Gather evidence. First, it’s important to have evidence to support your claim. Each element of your claim must be documented with medical records, receipts for medication and treatments, testimony from witnesses, and photographs.
- Send a demand letter. Your attorney will send a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company as soon as possible following the accident. The letter will state the reasons why the policyholder is legally responsible, explain the injuries caused by the collision, and detail the harm you’ve suffered as a result. The letter will itemize your damages, including medical bills, any other expenses, and lost income. This effectively begins the settlement negotiation process.
- Wait for the insurance company to conduct an investigation. Once the demand letter is sent, the insurance company will conduct an investigation and will either accept or deny your claim. The insurance claims adjuster will review all available evidence, including:
- Testimony from the other driver
- The area where the accident occurred
- Witness statements
- Photos of the accident scene
- The police report
- Medical records
- Photos of the vehicles involved
- Respond to the claims adjuster. If the insurance company accepts the claim, it will make a settlement offer. The insurance company will likely try to say that your claim is worth much less than the amount you’re requesting and push a low offer to settle your claim for as little as possible. If your claim is denied, you will likely have an opportunity to appeal to the claims adjuster.
- Negotiate. You and your attorney can choose to reject the initial offer from the claims adjuster and make a counteroffer. To do so, your lawyer writes a letter to the claims adjuster turning down the offer and making a counteroffer. Once you’ve made a counteroffer, negotiations will resume. The negotiation process may involve several more iterations before it concludes. You’ll likely find that each stage of the negotiation process involves more confrontation with the insurance company. If you fail to reach a settlement agreement, the claims adjuster may make a final settlement offer. If you decide that this final offer isn’t acceptable, you may need to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit.
You Need an Attorney
An attorney specializing in vehicle accident claims can help you determine if any settlement offers you receive are reasonable compensation. Settling a vehicle injury case can take several months to several years, depending on the circumstances of the case. In Virginia, vehicle injury lawsuits have a statute of limitations of two years. This means that you must act promptly, since the injury case must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. However, settlement negotiations can still continue beyond this time frame. Since settlements are typically negotiated between an attorney and an insurance provider, you need a lawyer who has experience with these types of claims. Contact the Law Office of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.