Steps Involved in a Traffic Accident Settlement

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If you were injured in a car crash or it caused damages to your vehicle, you can file a lawsuit against the guilty party to claim compensation for your injuries and/or damages. Usually, the insurance provider of the party at fault is responsible to settle the compensation amount for the damages, which usually includes medical expenses, cost of repairing the vehicle, loss of wages, etc. You can also include an estimated amount for the pain and suffering that the traumatic experience caused you while filing the claim. Below is a quick look at how traffic accident lawsuits work.

Steps Involved in a Traffic Accident Settlement

When you are involved in a car accident, the first step to take is to call 911 and inform the law enforcement officials about the crash. If you or someone else is injured in the accident, make sure to notify that to the officials as well and get medical help as soon as possible. Do not try to move the injured person if he/she is unconscious or has suffered a severe injury to the spinal cord. Instead, let the healthcare professionals arrive at the scene and attend to his/her injuries.

In the meantime, take a few photographs of the accident scene, if you can, so that you can document the details of the crash. You can also get the contact numbers of the witnesses if any. This would come handy to get their testimonies about the accident if required later. If you are injured, see a doctor and follow the recommended treatment procedure. Even if you feel all right, it is advised to consult a doctor after a car accident. This is because some injuries might not show symptoms right away, but can lead to serious complications afterward.

When you get home, contact a reliable personal injury lawyer and learn about your legal options to file a claim. The police would have started their investigation about the accident and would have prepared a report of the same. You can ask your lawyer to get a copy of the police report in order to prove your case and negotiate with the insurance company of the at-fault party.

When you file a claim, the insurance provider would also investigate the accident and look into the damages your car sustained. They would also check the accident location, analyze its cause, and examine your medical reports and bills to calculate the compensation amount. In some cases, the insurance company might also consult with an accident reconstruction expert or engineer to see if the road conditions or any other factors led to the accident.

The insurance provider would then calculate the value of your car and the cost of the required repairs. If your car was damaged beyond repairs, you can file a claim to replace your vehicle as well. In such a case, you might need a rental car for the time being. The amount of rental car might also be included in your claim. Similarly, if the car accident caused you to miss some time at work that led to monetary losses, you can include that in the claim as well. The insurance company would check that and calculate an approximate amount for the same.

After the insurance provider has checked all such aspects and conclusive pieces of evidence, they would offer you a settlement amount. You should consult with your personal injury lawyer to see if that is a fair compensation amount, and only sign the paperwork if you find it reasonable. Once you sign the agreement, you would be releasing the defendant and the insurance company from any future liabilities for the accident.

If you were replacing the vehicle, you would have to turn over your ownership of the car to the insurance company. You would receive the settlement amount when you transfer the title, which you can use to buy a replacement car. If there were an active car loan at the time of the accident, then the insurance company would pay the remaining amount of the loan to the bank. On the other hand, if you were repairing the vehicle, the insurance company might pay the mechanic directly or pay you the amount to settle the repair costs.

Note that it does not always work in your benefit when you deal with the insurance company directly. Most personal injury lawyers would advise against settling for the compensation amount that the insurance provider offers, but calculate future expenses too and include them in the claim. For instance, you might have some traumatic injuries that could lead to PTSD. If so, it could take months or even years to deal with the psychological and emotional issues. Besides, you can always take the case to court if the insurance company refuses to pay the amount that you deserve.

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