If you experience a car accident due to the negligence of another party, you will be entitled to request a settlement through a personal injury claim. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of an auto accident, handling injuries and navigating a complicated car accident settlement process might be challenging if you do not understand how the process works. Below are the steps involved when pursuing a car accident claim.
Gathering of evidence
Immediately after a collision, you will be expected to gather evidence from the accident scene, your vehicle repair company, employer, and health care center attending to your injuries. In gathering evidence, you will need to hire an auto accident lawyer to help you conduct an independent investigation into your car accident to gather adequate evidence and develop your case. The pieces of information which can support your car accident claim include:
- Financial records demonstrating financial damages due to the accident.
- Medical records
- Statements of the involved driver
- Statements of witnesses
- Video or photos of the car(s) involved
- Police report
Consultation with experts
It is advisable to contact experts who can provide valuable insights into your injuries, car accidents, and the associated damage. Some of the experts include:
- Medical experts might help in discussing your prognosis, injuries and treatment administered.
- Civil or mechanical engineers can help in explaining if road features or a faulty part of a vehicle contributed to the car accident.
- Accident reconstruction experts can help to investigate the crash and determine the factors which contributed to the collision.
Your lawyer will help draft a demand letter and send it to the insurer of the at-fault party. The demand letter will indicate the details of the accident and the amount of compensation you are requesting within specified data to solve your claim. However, you should not hurry to send a demand letter but wait until you recover from your injuries or attain optimal medical improvement. With that, your attorney can easily get the best estimate of the settlement you will require to cater for your damages.
The insurance firm will undertake its investigations to determine the worth of your case. After they have received your letter, they will start the process of negotiating for your settlement. In most cases, you can face a tough negotiation, but your lawyer can describe the merits and demerits of accepting a certain offer so that you make an informed decision. If you reach a fair agreement, your case will be settled, meaning you will not have to file a lawsuit. Depending on your car accident details and the associated injuries, your settlement needs to reflect the value of your:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Diminished earning capacity
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer needs to understand how to determine the ideal value of your present and past damages. By determining the actual value of your damages, you can pursue maximum compensation.
Filing a lawsuit
If you fail to reach a fair settlement agreement during the negotiations, your attorney can assist you in filing a lawsuit. Most nations have a statute of limitations that stipulates that car accident victims can legally file lawsuits within two years after they suffer from an accident. Your car accident lawyer will represent you in all court proceedings. Most importantly, they will advise you on what you can say and expect and guide you through every trial step.
The signing of a settlement agreement
After you reach a fair settlement offer, the jury will request you to sign a settlement agreement. The agreement is meant to withdraw legal action from the insurance company and other parties involved. However, you need to ensure that you thoroughly read the agreement with your attorney before signing it. After that, you can wait for a couple of days or weeks to receive your settlement, which would mark the end of the claim process.