You were in a pretty bad car accident with a distracted driver several weeks ago and now you aren’t sure what to do. Your injuries are pretty severe and aren’t getting much better. You used to play tennis every day after work, but your neck and back are now hurting more than you would like to admit. Even sitting at work for long periods of time is painful. The other guy’s insurance company isn’t offering you what you wanted, so you did what you thought you had to do – file a personal injury lawsuit. You’ve heard about settling out of court, but is that really the best option for your situation? Learn more about car accident settlement basics in the following article.
What Does “Settlement” Mean?
Settling your case basically means resolving your dispute and not going to trial. It is important to recognize that most cases, particularly car accident cases, don’t end up in a full civil trial. Oftentimes these cases end up settling as the parties come to an agreement that is palatable for all involved. Why? Because a jury trial offers no guarantee of a successful outcome – even in the most air-tight of cases. Juries can be unpredictable, while your settlement, once accepted, is not.
What is a Demand Letter?
If you feel that your injuries are being undervalued by the opposing party’s insurance company, you can have your injury attorney write a formal “demand letter” to the insurer. This document gives you the opportunity to explain the incident, describe your injuries and damage, and request a payment amount to settle the claim without any further litigation or court appearances. A well-drafted demand letter will put all of the issues and facts into perspective, carefully laying out your case, any evidence in your favor, include medical records information, and more.
A skilled attorney may even demand payment at a higher level than what is really expected so there is room to negotiate for both sides. Keep in mind, the insurance company also may require you to get an independent medical evaluation to substantiate your injury claim.
After both sides have had a chance to review the demand letter and respond, the case may move to a settlement negotiation phase. This means that their will likely be back and forth negotiations between the parties in an attempt to come to an agreement. If these talks breakdown in some way and you end up at an impasse, unable to move one way or the other, you may be able to agree to meditation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Mediators are licensed attorneys who are usually able to help both parties come together to solve their differences. If your negotiations are successful, you will be able to put this case behind you and collect from the insurer or the at-fault driver. If you are not able to come to a resolution, your case will proceed through the trial courts in your county.
Car Accident Settlement Basics: Related Resources
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To settle or not to settle; what to do? While you weigh the pros and cons of a car accident settlement, you should be aware of the laws in your state and understand if you're giving up any rights in the process. Get expert legal counsel from a car accident attorney near you today to help you figure out your next steps.
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