As a driver, being involved in a car accident can be traumatic enough, but when injuries are claimed, the situation becomes even more complicated. You now have medical bills, insurance claims, and legal issues to deal with on top of the stress from the accident itself. Understanding the process that unfolds after someone claims injury in an auto accident can help reduce anxiety and allow you to better protect your rights. A car accident lawyer can be instrumental in properly setting your case up.
The Claim Investigation Process
Once a claim of injury from a car accident has been made, the insurance companies involved will begin an investigation process to determine liability and evaluate the details of the claim.
The first step is to obtain a statement from the claimant regarding what happened in the accident. This includes details on how the collision occurred, the vehicles and parties involved, the date and time of the incident, and a description of any injuries sustained. Medical records, doctor's notes, and other documents supporting the claimed injuries are also gathered.
Witness statements from passengers, bystanders, and others present at the scene are collected. The physical damage to all vehicles involved is assessed through photos and repair or replacement cost estimates. Police and emergency responder reports provide further details on the circumstances surrounding the crash.
All evidence is reviewed to reconstruct the sequence of events and assign responsibility. The severity and cause of the claimant's injuries are evaluated based on medical documentation and opinions from healthcare professionals. The total costs for medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages are calculated.
Once the investigation is complete, the insurance companies determine if the claim should be accepted or denied. Settlement negotiations then begin to agree on the amount of compensation that should be awarded to the claimant for their injuries and damages. The entire process can take weeks or months to finalize, depending on the complexity of the claim.
Proper investigation and evaluation of the details surrounding an auto accident injury claim are crucial to determine fair compensation and resolution for all parties involved. While it can be a lengthy process, ensuring that the facts are established and responsibilities are appropriately assigned leads to the most equitable outcome.
Reviewing Available Insurance Coverage
Once an injury claim is filed following a car accident, the insurance companies involved will review available coverage to determine fault and liability. Both the claimant's and defendant's auto insurance policies will be examined to assess the limits of coverage for injuries and property damage.
•Bodily injury liability coverage pays for injuries to other parties in an accident you cause. The minimum required by law varies by state, but typically ranges from $25,000 to $50,000 per person and $50,000 to $100,000 per accident. Higher limits are often recommended for maximum protection.
•Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects you if the at-fault party has little or no insurance. This optional coverage taps into your own policy limits.
•Comprehensive and collision coverage pays for damage to your own vehicle. The more coverage you carry, the less out-of-pocket costs you will incur.
•Medical payments or personal injury protection coverage pays for injuries to you and your passengers, regardless of fault. Some states mandate minimum amounts.
Once coverage details are reviewed, the companies determine percentages of fault and liability, if any, for the individuals involved. They negotiate the amount of damages that should be paid out to settle injury and damage claims. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case may end up in civil court to determine final settlement amounts.
The bottom line is that determining fault and liability in auto accidents can be complicated. Carrying adequate insurance with sufficient policy limits is the best way to protect yourself financially in the unfortunate event of an injury-causing collision. Reviewing coverage with an insurance agent annually is advisable to ensure your policy limits remain sufficient and you have the right types of optional coverage for your needs.
Determining Fault and Liability
When a car accident occurs and injuries are claimed, determining fault and liability is a crucial step. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will conduct an investigation to verify the events of the accident and who is responsible.
Police Report and Witness Statements
The police report from responding officers contains details about the conditions at the time of the accident and statements from drivers and any witnesses. Insurance companies obtain copies of the police report as a starting point. They also contact witnesses to get additional statements and verify information. Any inconsistencies are noted.
Insurance adjusters will interview the drivers involved to understand their accounts of events. They ask probing questions to identify each party’s version of how the crash happened, noting any contradictions between the stories. The adjusters evaluate if the drivers’ statements align with the physical evidence from the accident scene and witness accounts.
For complex or catastrophic crashes, insurance companies may perform an accident reconstruction to recreate the sequence of events. They analyze damage to the vehicles, the length and location of skid marks, debris fields, and other physical clues. Accident reconstruction specialists apply the laws of physics and their expertise to determine how the collision likely unfolded. Their findings help establish which driver was at fault.
After reviewing all available information, insurance companies conclude which driver was primarily responsible for causing the accident. The at-fault driver and their insurance are then liable for damages and injury claims from the other parties. When fault cannot be clearly established, the liability and costs may be shared between drivers and their insurers. The outcome of the fault determination process significantly impacts how much compensation the injured claimants may recover.
Negotiating a Settlement
Once a claim has been filed for injuries in a car accident, the insurance companies will review the details of the accident and injuries to determine fault and liability. If liability is accepted by the at-fault driver's insurance company, the next step is typically negotiating a settlement.
Negotiating a settlement involves determining a fair amount of compensation for the injuries and damages sustained. The injured party and their attorney will calculate the total costs of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as any permanent disabilities. Evidence like medical records, photographs, and testimony from doctors will be used to validate the claimed injuries.
The insurance company will evaluate this evidence to ensure the costs are reasonable and the injuries are commensurate with the details of the accident. They may conduct their own medical examination of the injured party to confirm the injuries before offering a settlement amount. Offers and counteroffers will go back and forth as each party aims for what they believe is fair compensation.
If an agreement can be reached, a settlement is made. The injured party signs a release of liability, giving up the right to pursue further legal action in exchange for the settlement amount. The case is then closed. However, if no agreement can be reached, the next step would be taking the case to court through a personal injury lawsuit. In some situations, alternative dispute resolution methods like arbitration or mediation may also be options before a trial.
The settlement process can typically take weeks or months. Patience and persistence are required to negotiate the maximum settlement for the injuries sustained. An experienced personal injury attorney is essential to guide you through this process and fight for your rights. With their counsel, you have the best chance of recovering physically, emotionally, and financially from your accident.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Once the initial shock of a car accident wears off, it’s important to consider whether you have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you suffered injuries or other damages in a crash that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation.
First, gather any evidence from the accident scene, including photos of the vehicles involved, your injuries, the surrounding area, etc. Obtain a copy of the police report which can provide important details about the incident. Seek medical attention as soon as possible and keep records of any diagnoses, treatments, medications or other expenses related to your injuries.
Contact a Lawyer
Discuss the details of your case with a personal injury lawyer to determine if you have a viable claim. They can evaluate factors like who was at fault, the severity of your injuries, and the amount of damages to assess the strength of your case. If they believe you are entitled to compensation, they will advise you on the next steps to take.
Your lawyer may first send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. This letter outlines the details of the accident, your injuries and losses, and a proposed settlement amount to compensate you. The insurance company will review and either accept, decline or counter the offer. If declined or countered, you will need to decide whether to pursue further legal action.
Filing a Lawsuit
If a reasonable settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer may file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. They will gather evidence to show negligence on the part of the other driver and the damages you have incurred as a result. The case may proceed to trial where a judge or jury will determine liability and award damages if appropriate based on the circumstances.
The process of claiming injury in a car accident and pursuing compensation can be complex. However, with the help of an experienced lawyer, you have the opportunity to recover damages for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. While no amount of money can undo the trauma of a serious crash, it can help relieve the financial burden so you can focus on your recovery.
Fletcher Law Can Help With Your Car Accident Case
If you have been injured in a car accident, Fletcher Law can help you pursue compensation for your injuries and other damages. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have successfully represented clients in car accident cases for over 20 years.
When you retain our services, we will conduct a thorough investigation into your accident. We will review the police report, interview witnesses, consult with medical experts, and determine who is at fault. We will then calculate the total value of your claim which includes lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
Once we have established liability and determined the value of your claim, we will contact the at-fault party’s insurance company and present a demand letter outlining the details of your case. If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, we will file a lawsuit on your behalf. We are fully prepared to take your case to trial if necessary to help you obtain maximum compensation.
Some of the specific ways we can assist you with your car accident claim include:
•Handling all communication with insurance companies and defense attorneys
•Negotiating with insurance adjusters to secure a fair settlement offer
•Filing a lawsuit within your state's statute of limitations if a settlement cannot be reached
•Gathering evidence from the accident scene, vehicles, and medical records to build a strong case
•Consulting with medical professionals to determine the full extent of your injuries and long-term prognosis
•Calculating lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering damages, and other expenses to determine the total value of your claim
•Taking your case to trial and presenting arguments to a judge and jury if a fair settlement offer is not made
Don't delay - call Fletcher Law today for a free consultation regarding your car accident injury claim. We have the experience and resources to help you pursue maximum compensation so you can focus on your recovery.