Understanding Settlements for Car Accident Cases
While big jury verdicts make the headlines and get turned into television shows and movies, the reality is that most personal injury claims are resolved through settlements outside of the courtroom. With auto accidents, these settlements typically involve negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Depending on the facts of the case, however, there may be a number of other parties (along with their insurance companies) involved as well.
Do Not Trust the Insurance Companies
For this article, let’s focus on a typical two-car accident where the other driver was clearly at fault. Shortly after the collision, you will likely be contacted by the other driver’s insurance company and offered a minimal amount of compensation for the damage to your vehicle. Do not accept their offer. In the vast majority of cases, it will be far less than you are owed.
In fact, you shouldn’t say much of anything during the call. You should simply take the insurance adjuster’s name and phone number, and let them know that your attorney will be in contact soon. If you give a statement or even suggest that you aren’t sure of the extent of your injuries, they will try to use this against you in the settlement negotiations.
Establishing Your Right to Financial Compensation
Once your attorney gets involved, he or she will communicate with the insurance company on your behalf. Your attorney will also prepare and submit all of the necessary paperwork to process your claim; and, if necessary, to take your case to court. Going to court does not mean that the parties cannot still settle. In fact, many cases settle after a lawsuit has been filed, and the prospect of going into litigation with strong facts on the victim’s side is often a strong motivator for the insurance company to settle out of court.
While your lawyer is doing this work behind the scenes, you will be getting your car repaired, seeing doctors, rehabilitating, speaking with therapists, and recovering from the accident. Remember, the insurance company isn’t going to settle if they aren’t convinced that you are actually injured – and they aren’t just going to take your word. A big part of the process will be demonstrating both (i) your losses to date, and (ii) the likely future impact of your injuries.
You Control the Final Decision
Ultimately, if an insurance settlement makes sense in your case, you and your attorney will discuss the insurance company’s offer, and you will make the decision whether or not to accept it. It is your case; and, while it is your attorney’s job to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf, it is your right to make the final call. If there is more money on the table and you want to go to court, the decision is yours.
Speak with an Auto Accident Attorney in Jacksonville, FL
If you have questions about auto accident insurance settlements, contact Timothy Armstrong, P.A. to schedule a no-obligation consultation.