How Does the Car Accident Settlement Process Work?
- April 11th, 2016
- The Law Office of David E. Gordon
When you are injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you are entitled to seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. This compensation can cover your medical bill expenses, wages you were unable to earn due to being out of work during your recovery and your pain and suffering.
This process involves more than simply submitting a claim to the negligent driver’s auto insurance provider and receiving a check to cover your losses. It can – and often does – involve a lengthy investigation of your accident and negotiation between your attorney and the insurance company. If you cannot reach a car accident insurance settlement through negotiation, a lawsuit and an appearance in court may be required as well.
Your claim could be resolved fairly quickly, or it could become a long, drawn-out process that requires substantial court involvement. By working with an experienced Memphis car accident attorney, you can give your claim a better chance of resulting in a favorable settlement for you and your family.
The following are steps that go into the settlement process:
After you file your personal injury claim with the negligent driver’s insurance provider, the insurance company conducts an investigation of the accident. This is done by an insurance claims adjuster.
The investigation involves a review of every piece of evidence that you provide to prove your claim’s validity. When certain pieces of evidence are not available such as photographs of your car, the insurance adjuster might take them.
Pieces of evidence that the insurance adjuster reviews during the investigation of your claim include:
- The official police report for the accident
- Photographs of the accident scene, your car and the other driver’s car
- Statements from witnesses to the accident
- Your medical records if you have signed a release
- The other driver’s testimony
- The area where the accident occurred.
Other pieces of evidence that may be considered when investigating your claim include evidence of your financial damages and content on your social media accounts.
Consultation with Experts
Experts can provide critical insight to your accident and subsequent damages. This insight can be used to underscore your personal injury claim. Experts whose opinions might be considered during your claim’s settlement process include:
- Your doctor – The physician can discuss your injuries, treatment and prognosis.
- An accident reconstruction specialist – This expert can create a digital rendering of your accident, showing how the factors at play led to it.
- A civil or mechanical engineer – These individuals may be called on when one of the factors at play was a vehicle malfunction or a geographical feature such as a partially complete road construction project.
Reviewing Insurance Policies (The At-Fault Driver’s and Your Own Policy)
Tennessee is a “fault” state for car accidents. This means that when you are injured in a crash, you must seek compensation for your damages through the other party’s liability insurance provider. However, he or she may not have insurance or may have insurance that fails to cover all of your damages. As a result, you may be required to go through your own provider to make up the difference between his or her coverage and your financial needs.
Seeking a Pre-Lawsuit Settlement
Most car accident claims are settled without a lawsuit. Your case could very well be one of them. If your attorney determines that the settlement offer that he or she reaches with the negligent driver’s insurance provider is sufficient for your damages, he or she might suggest that you accept the settlement offer. Do not accept a settlement offer without first consulting with your attorney.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you cannot reach an appropriate settlement with the insurance provider, you might need to bring your claim to court.
Car accident lawsuits typically are filed in the proper Circuit Court. This court usually will be the one located in the county where the accident occurred or where the negligent driver resides.
Negotiating a Settlement
Even if you file a lawsuit, it is possible to settle your claim out of court. Settlements are negotiated between an attorney and an insurance provider. In fact, some insurance providers will only speak with attorneys, which is why it is important that you work with an attorney who has experience negotiating this type of claim on behalf of his or her clients.
Going to Court
Your lawyer can determine if going to court is the right choice for you and your case, and if so, the lawyer will walk you through the next steps involved in your case. The lawyer can explain what to expect during your trial.
In brief, both parties appear in court and present their claims to the jury. After both sides examine witnesses and present evidence, the jury will reach a verdict. The judge will read this verdict to the involved parties, who both have the option to appeal the judgment entered in the case.
Remember, settlement discussions can continue even if you file a lawsuit. They can even continue after the jury reaches a verdict for your case. Settling a claim out of court is often less expensive and less stressful for all parties involved, but sometimes, it is impossible.
Get Help Today from a Memphis Car Accident Attorney
Car accident claims can quickly become complicated. For legal guidance and representation through each step of your claim’s settlement, work with an experienced Tennessee car accident attorney who can explain the process to you in simple English and help you to pursue the money you deserve.
Choose The Law Office of David E. Gordon. Do not wait to get started. Contact our firm today to schedule your free legal consultation with Mr. Gordon.