An attorney can help you gather the evidence needed to support your claim. This includes police reports and medical documents.
Once this information is collected, a settlement demand is sent to the insurance company, and negotiations begin.
Your attorney will negotiate and ensure you receive a fair settlement. This process can take time.
What to Expect From Your Attorney
Most legal claims from car accidents never reach the trial stage in a civil court. Instead, plaintiffs negotiate a settlement agreement with the defendant or the defendant’s insurance provider.
What does a car accident lawyer do? A qualified attorney will take the time to understand your case and how it will likely play out before submitting a demand for compensation. Often, this involves collecting and reviewing medical records, photographs of the accident scene, video footage of your injuries, and other documentation.
Your attorney will also help you determine the actual value of your claim. This will include carefully reviewing your medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Non-economic damages are more difficult to impose a monetary value on. Still, your lawyer can draw upon her experience in similar cases and other case precedent to make a compelling argument for your rights.
After settling your case, the at-fault driver’s insurance provider will usually write you a check. Some settlements are paid in lump sums, while others are structured payments made over time.
What to Expect From the Insurance Company
When an accident occurs, the at-fault party usually has insurance that covers some of the victim’s costs. This makes it possible to settle the case without having a trial. The insurance company will prepare and issue a check once the plaintiff and defendant agree on a settlement.
The insurance company will negotiate the claim’s value, including economic damages (out-of-pocket costs, such as medical bills and rehabilitation expenses) and general or non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, diminished quality of life, and emotional distress). You must have a personal injury lawyer to help determine your settlement goal and conduct negotiations.
It is also essential to understand that you cannot seek additional compensation or take the case to trial once you sign the settlement agreement. It is also common for the settlement document to include a confidentiality clause, meaning you must keep the settlement details private.
What to Expect From the Court
Typically, a case settles well before a trial. Most judges will require a pretrial hearing before taking your case to practice to allow both sides to resolve the issue without going to court.
Once the parties reach a final settlement agreement, they memorialize it in a written document called a consent judgment or stipulated order. The judge signs the order, and it becomes binding. Getting a judge to change a final judgment that both parties agree on is tough.
If your case goes to trial, a judge and jury will hear the evidence and decide how much you win or lose. This process typically takes from a few months to 18 months on average, but it can take longer if the liability or injuries are contested. You will have the right to appeal if you don’t like the ruling. Being calm, respectful, and ready to present your case during trial is essential.
What to Expect From Yourself
It is essential to remember that you control the negotiation process, no matter what the insurance company does. It is your legal right to reject their offers, and you can decide when the time is right to accept a settlement offer. Your lawyer will be able to assist you with this decision.
It would help if you were prepared to provide medical records, employment history, and other supporting documents to help demonstrate your losses. You may also be required to attend depositions or give statements to witnesses.
A good idea is to speak only with your attorney during negotiations. Avoid contacting the insurance adjusters directly. If they get you, politely refer them to your lawyer and let the communication end.
The defendant will typically send you a check when a final settlement is reached. It would help if you remembered that the money would only be released once the insurance company receives your signed release form.
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