To Sue or Settle In A Car Accident Personal Injury Case?
Motor vehicle accidents happen every day. It is reported that about than 6.3 million car crashes were reported in the United States alone in 2015. Sometimes, these accidents only lead to the damage of property, but in some other cases, they lead to minor or serious personal injury, and sometimes death.
Regardless of how skilled of a driver you are, everyone is prone to road accidents. Remember not everyone on the road is in a fit state to drive or has a driving license. In the same vein, there are also many other factors that are beyond the control of the individual driver that can lead to an automobile accident. It would therefore benefit you to you familiarize yourself with the right steps to follow in the event of an auto accident, to ensure that your rights are protected.
After being involved in a car accident, once you have received any necessary medical attention that may be needed, which should be the number one concern, the next important step to take is to ensure that you obtain a police accident report. This report will be important in helping you file a claim with your insurance company to recover for damages. The assumption however, is made that you have an active insurance policy, even though it is a known fact that about one in eight drivers on US roads are uninsured.
In the event that the said car accident results in a personal injury to your person, the question then remains how best to go about receiving the just compensation you deserve. This question becomes more imperative given possibility that your insurer may either reject your claim outright, or may otherwise offer you well below what you feel you should get in compensation. It is at this juncture you would need to speak to a personal injury attorney to advise you on what options are open to you in your bid to secure fair compensation in line with your insurance policy.
Although the vast majority of auto accident injury claims end in settlement, some people are usually convinced that they will need to file a lawsuit in order to get their claim settled. This however is not always the case. The truth is, the decision to file a lawsuit is usually dependent on a number of factors, but is primarily based on the inability to reach an agreeable settlement with the insurance company and what they are offering you to settle your claim. Going to trial is therefore a last resort, and one that should preferably not be sought where possible.
So, generally speaking, you have two general options available to you in trying to get compensation from your insurance company following an accident. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks and we will weigh both options to help you decide on the one that suits your situation best.
Settling a claim
A settlement is the most sought after option by most insurance companies and lawyers. It involves getting compensated for the injuries sustained without having to go through a costly and time-consuming lawsuit.
There are two ways you can approach out of court settlement. You can go through the process by yourself, or you can employ the services of an injury lawyer to represent or guide you through the process. Settling without the input of an attorney is by far the easiest and the quickest means of approach, not to mention much cheaper. However, one potential drawback with this option is the possibility of you receiving much less than your should from the insurance company.
Having an attorney in your corner on the other hand very likely will increase your chances of receiving a much fairer settlement, mainly because this lawyer is likely to be far more experienced in being able to assess what a claim is worth based on all the facts and circumstances of the accident and any potential injuries you may have suffered. Also, there is the fact that he or she will likely be better able to negotiate with the insurance company, who as you can imagine, will be doing everything in their power to ensure they payout as little as they possibly can.
Settling with an injury attorney is another easy way out. It’s most preferred in situations where you risk not getting compensated through a court trial. What’s more, an injury attorney will assist in valuing your case and advising you on the right move.
The decision to settle a claim outside of the courtroom will of course depend on several factors, factors which you decide on what they should be all by yourself, or under the advisement of an attorney. It’s also important to take a look at the various types of claims and tips on how to get the most out of your claim.
Proceeding With a Lawsuit
There are two main reasons why people consider going to court:
- When the insurer is not offering you enough compensation
Your attorney will always seek to obtain the highest possible compensation on your behalf. In case there is a chance of you being paid more in pre-suit settlement negotiations than what the insurer is offering, your attorney is most likely going to file a lawsuit.
- The possibility of long-term injuries.
Most car accident victims incur minor injuries, but the sad fact is that long-term injuries such as whiplash are common in rear-end accidents and can lead to life-threatening permanent damages. In such situations, getting a settlement too quickly is not advised since you may settle for less than you require for your treatment.
Different states will have different time periods concerning the filling of personal injury lawsuits. The litigation process begins the moment your attorney drafts a formal legal complaint and submits it to court. This process is normally divided into two: the pre-trial and the trial stages.
Settlement negotiations normally take place throughout the litigation process. If your attorney and the insurer agree on a fair settlement during the pre-trial period, then there is a chance your case will resolve prior to a verdict. Failure to this, your case will proceed to the trial stage where the jury or judge will decide your case, including the amount to be compensated, depending on the evidence presented. The compensation amount is dependent upon the injuries sustained, amount of pain and suffering and the period you have been away from work.
If your case is settled through court, unlike settlement out of court, you have a chance of being paid in full amount. Through this kind of approach, however, you risk waiting for years, if not months to have your case decided. Even worse, there is no guarantee that the court will rule in your favor which means you can end up with zero payment after spending a lot of time and money paying for the lawsuit.