In the aftermath of a car accident, victims suddenly realize the importance of having proper insurance coverage. When you suffer from serious injuries and your family is left without a breadwinner, an insurance provider can make all the difference.
Suppose you have been the victim of a car accident caused by the negligence of someone else. In that case, it is the other driver’s insurance company that is responsible for covering the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
- Lifetime Disability.
Medical expenses, in particular, can quickly pile up until you owe the hospital thousands of dollars. A broken leg, for example, can require surgery to the tune of around $30,000!
However, getting the insurance company to pay up is usually easier said than done. If you somehow manage to get them to make you a car accident settlement offer in the first place, it is usually a much lower offer than what your claim should be.
This is why you need the help of a car accident lawyer that understands the California car accident settlement process. With an experienced law firm by your side, such as Ehline Law, you do not have to worry about medical bills or any other expenses. Call Michael Ehline now at (213) 596-9642.
What Is a Settlement Offer?
When you have been involved in a car accident, you will need to submit a car accident claim through the other driver’s insurance company.
In most cases, if the car accident claim only covers property damage, i.e., the damage done to your vehicle, the process is straightforward. All you will need is a quote from a mechanic accepted by the insurance company, who will then make an offer to cover all the repairs to your car.
However, the settlement offer becomes a bit complicated if you have been injured because the insurance company will need to consider other factors, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering, before making an offer.
Often, they will rely on the advice of an insurance adjuster to help them make what they feel is a fair settlement offer. Usually, this settlement offer is much lower than you would expect, meaning it becomes a negotiation process.
A typical car accident settlement should not take too long to settle, but sometimes you will need to seek the help of personal injury lawyers if the issue becomes a car accident case brought before the courts.
Most car accident claims that go to court without lawyers representing the victims end up in favor of the insurance company. This is because of the difference in experience handling car accident settlements between the insurance company and the victims.
A Good Settlement Offer for Car Accident Claims
A typical car accident settlement should cover all the basic expenses the victim has had to shoulder. This means the first thing you must do is send a demand letter to the insurance company.
After looking at the demand letter and comparing it to the evidence of property damage, medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering you have provided, the insurance provider will then make a settlement offer.
To be considered a good settlement offer, it should be as close as possible to the amount stated in your demand letter. Otherwise, you will have to consider the possibility of hiring a lawyer that is experienced in handling personal injury claims.
Car Accident Claim and Insurance Laws
There are various state-specific laws regarding how a car accident settlement process is handled. You will need to be familiar with these before launching a lawsuit against the other driver’s insurance company.
Firstly, a statute of limitations states that you have two years to file a car accident claim which starts immediately after the accident. When this time runs out, you will no longer be able to seek compensation from the insurance company using any legal means.
While two years might seem like a long time, you will need to consider all the things that need to be done before car accident cases are heard in court, including:
- Car accident claims review
- Accident analysis
- Medical treatment of accident victims
- An offer made by the claims adjuster
- Reviewing of the offer by personal injury lawyers
- Calculation of exact hours lost from work and suing for lost wages.
Settlement Offer vs. Car Accident Claim
The initial settlement offer from the insurance adjuster usually does not reflect the true value of the car accident claim.
This is why it is important to remember two things when dealing with a settlement offer, which are:
- Never accept the first settlement offer because, in most cases, the settlement amount is much less than what is due to you
- Always seek legal advice from a car accident settlement lawyer
California Car Accident Settlement Process
In most cases, when making an insurance claim, the car accident settlement process is straightforward, as follows:
- Seek medical treatment immediately after the car accident
- Gather all the evidence, such as photos of the accident scene, injuries sustained by accident victims, and a police report
- Get the insurance details of the other driver
- Send a demand letter to the other driver’s insurance company
- The insurance company makes an initial settlement offer
- You analyze the settlement offer with the help of a lawyer with knowledge of personal injury protection
- Make a counteroffer and begin the process of negotiating for a fair settlement.
How Does an Insurance Company Decide on Settlement Offers?
When car accidents happen, neither you nor the other driver will be prepared for the medical costs and other expenses that will pop up. That is why it is vital to make sure that car insurance pays, whether it’s your insurance coverage or the coverage for the other driver.
Usually, when deciding how much to pay in a personal injury claim, insurance companies look at the following factors:
Who Is the At-fault Driver?
This is the most important thing that insurance companies need to decide. The other driver will have specific coverage with policy limits that determine how much the insurance provider will pay depending on whom is at fault for the car accident.
Some drivers will have full coverage, while others will have minimum coverage or third-party insurance that only covers vehicle damage for the victims.
Your Insurance Coverage
The type of coverage you carry will also be considered, especially in states that hold both parties at fault for the accident. If you are found to be partially at fault, your own insurance company may have to cover some of the medical bills associated with the accident.
Car Accident Injuries and Medical Expenses?
Even minor injuries require compensation, but the extent of the injuries determines how much the insurer will pay. In most cases, this is easy enough to prove if you have the receipts from all the medical costs you had to pay.
A medical report detailing the extent of the injuries sustained will also be beneficial. However, in the case of soft tissue injuries, or other injuries that are similarly difficult to prove, you may require a good lawyer to fight for a fair settlement offer.
You are allowed to claim for any of the following:
- Emergency medical treatment
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Long-term medical care.
Time From Work and Lost Wages
A significant part of the economic damages you are owed is due to lost wages or earning potential. This means the insurer will have to calculate the exact number of hours you had to stay in the hospital or at home recovering.
They will also need to consider how sustaining serious injuries has caused them to be unable to return to work at the same level as before. They will then consider your hourly wages and use this to create a fair settlement offer.
As we said before, you need to consider what various states require regarding settlement offers. Some states require the driver’s insurance company to cover the costs related to the accident first before turning to the other driver’s insurer.
Other states required the at-fault driver’s insurer to cover all the costs. This takes us back to the importance of determining who is at fault for the car accident.
Any Further Pain and Suffering Caused by the Car Accident
Of all the damages owed to the victim, non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are among the most difficult to prove. However, an insurance company still has to consider this along with any other suffering the victims may have had to endure.
Recommendation by the Insurance Adjuster
Finally, it will be up to the insurance adjuster to go over all the details of the accident, insurance coverage of the at-fault driver, and the state laws before making a settlement offer which the insurer will consider.
How Should You Handle a Car Accident Settlement?
It would help if you always kept in mind that, in most cases, the initial settlement offer made by insurance companies is shallow. Never accept this offer without consulting car accident attorneys and making your counteroffer.
If your counteroffer is denied and the insurers insist on paying the bare minimum, you may have no choice but to sue.
Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help? Call Ehline Law!
When the claims process cannot be handled out of court, the result is usually a dogfight between the victims of the car accident and the opposing insurance company.
In such cases, you will need an experienced lawyer if you are to walk away with a reasonable settlement offer. Michael Ehline has spent more than a decade fighting for the right of victims in car accident settlement cases.
Rather than pay for expensive medical treatment and severe property damage on your own, call Ehline law today and request a free consultation!
Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.
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