The steps in settling a car accident case
In accidents involving medium to severe injuries, it’s probably in your best financial and legal interests to hire a car accident lawyer. Although a vast majority of cases never make it to trial, a lawyer can be an effective asset to help you recover what you are owed.
Because it’s generally recognized that trials are time consuming and expensive, most car accident cases are resolved through a settlement process. There are several pre-defined steps that your attorney will guide you through.
The Demand Letter – If you have been injured by another driver, then you and your attorney will prepare a demand letter outlining the facts and circumstances of your accident, the medical treatment you have been undergoing, and a financial accounting of your bills and lost wages. This demand letter is presented to the other side’s insurance company and sets the stage for negotiations. The demand letter will also ask for an amount much higher than what you will accept, giving you room to maneuver during negotiations.
Negotiations – After the insurance company receives the demand letter, they will probably make the injured party an offer to settle the claim. Expect it to be low. It’s all part of the negotiation process. Generally, it’s best to refuse this initial offer.
Your attorney should draft a response letter, restating your claims and defending the key parts of the demand letter. The response should also include a counter-offer lower than your first offer. This back and forth may go on for some time as negotiations continue.
Mediation – If negotiations stall, then a third party may be brought in to try and resolve differences and reach a settlement. Mediators are generally experienced injury attorneys, and they can bring a fresh perspective to a claim, helping to break up a log jam if one exists.
Accept the offer – At some point, you can expect to reach a mutually agreed upon dollar amount, and that should be conveyed to you in writing. You will be expected to sign a release before receiving any funds from the insurance company that bars you from seeking additional money at any point in the future.
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