Any car accident is unfortunate. The implications of these mishaps can range from property damage to minor injuries, serious disabilities and in worst cases, wrongful death. Whatever these may be, the victim deserves to be compensated and the responsible driver has to be punished. And timely action is necessary if you want the law to work in your favor. Statistics show that accident claims seldom go to trial because the mutual settlement is a quicker and less stressful option for both parties. Still, you would want the settlement to be favorable so that you get the compensation you are entitled to. Here are some steps that can help you settle your accident claim.
Have a well-drafted demand letter
Essentially, a demand letter sets out the facts of the accident and medical treatment following it. The purpose of the letter is to present the injured party’s case to the insurance company in a way that it appears genuine. A well-drafted demand letter is vital to getting a settlement in your favor. It should include a recitation of the events that led to the mishap, details about the medical treatment and information about the lost wages. Further, the letter should ask for a higher amount of money than you expect in settlement because the insurance company will bargain on it.
Negotiate after the initial offer
Once the insurance company gets the demand letter, they will review it and the supporting documentation you provide. Typically, they will present an initial offer for settling the claim. You can expect a “lowball” offer to start with because the provider knows that you will bargain on it. Though you may be tempted to grab what you are getting, you should refrain from doing so. The best thing to do would be to let your car accident lawyer handle the situation. They will prepare a written response for conveying denial on your behalf. The response letter will also include the reasons for the offer being unacceptable. Finally, it should close with a counter demand. The negotiations will probably continue back and forth until both parties arrive at a settlement.
Mediation may be needed
While a settlement may be reached quickly in some cases, others may get stuck in a deadlock. If negotiations stall at any point in time, your lawyer will give additional information and evidence to strengthen the claim. In cases where things seem to reach a standstill, both parties may opt for mediation by a neutral third party. This is often done by a professional personal injury mediator who offers a fresh perspective to the case and tries to bridge the gaps for an amicable resolution.
Accepting the offer
The final stage of the car accident claim settlement is the acceptance of the offer. This may be through simple back-and-forth negotiation between the two parties or involvement of a professional mediator. Before you accept the offer, ensure that it covers the medical bills adequately and also compensates you for other damages like the loss of wages in case of temporary or permanent disability. Further, it should also cover the attorney’s fees so that you end up with a reasonable amount in your pocket. If the insurance company provides a verbal offer, request them for a written one that explicitly states the amount offered and accepted.
Get the settlement amount
Once the entire settlement process is through, you can expect to get the amount on the stipulated date. The insurer, on the other hand, will expect you to provide them a signed “release” before they send a check for the claim. The release refers to a binding legal document which states that the victim will not pursue any further claims for damages after they accept the settlement money. Since the release closes the option of any future recovery, you have to be certain about the resolution of your injuries at the time of signing it and accepting the payment. Anything that you claim thereafter will not be compensated. Once you send the release, you will get the money as a check to your attorney.
The settlement is the best route to get your car accident compensation because litigation can drag cases for months and even years. Moreover, it can be hard to stretch the case because of the stress factor. This is not something you would want when you are already injured and out of work. A court settlement is recommended only when the insurance company seems to be too rigid about the case and is not giving you the rightful compensation despite the best efforts to settle the claim.
Author Bio: Working with a leading law firm for over half a decade, Patt Anderson, has helped over hundreds of clients. He is ever keen to take on challenging cases that could push his potential.