March 23, 2017

Determining Your Auto Accident Settlement

If you have all the documentation that you can get your hands on, the negotiations with the insurance company should go much smoother. It is better for both you and the insurance company to be able to settle without the courts becoming involved. There can be both offers and counter offers until an agreement is reached.

Before you negotiate an auto accident settlement, have a dollar figure in mind based on the information you have. Include costs for hardships brought on by the accident and any injuries. The insurance company will have done their homework and have a predetermined offer.

What are the typical issues that I will face in making a claim for my injuries from a car accident?

A claim made against another driver or vehicle owner is called a tort claim. It is usually based upon the concept of carelessness or negligence although it can also be based upon an intentional or reckless act. Auto accident lawyers know that the three categories of issues that typically arise in a tort claim after an automobile accident are the following:

  1. Liability
  2. Damages
  3. Insurance Coverage

Liability refers to the question of who is at fault and to what degree. This is a very important question or, more commonly, a series of questions. Did the other driver exceed the speed limit? Did you fail to stop at a stop sign? Were the brakes on the truck properly maintained? These are the kinds of questions that must be answered by solid proof. The insurance company defending your claim obviously wants to minimize or eliminate the fault of its driver and to maximize your fault.

Damages refers to the injuries or losses that were caused by the accident. You are only entitled to be compensated for those injuries and losses that were the result of the accident. This is where the detailed records and, if necessary, the testimony of your treating doctors become important. It is also the responsibility of your attorney to document the ways in which you and your family have been impacted, in the past and in the future, by your injuries. Insurance coverage is frequently not as simple a determination as might be expected. Often there are disputes over which of several coverages is first in line. There are also efforts by the insurance company to deny or defeat coverage. And, where uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM) is involved there are multiple issues that must be resolved to assure maximum financial recovery. The entire area of insurance coverage is virtually a minefield that is best not entered without a competent attorney.

Having an auto accident attorney may add more credibility to your case when you negotiate because it will be obvious that you are ready to go to court. If you choose to have representation, be sure to include the attorney’s cost in what you are asking. The more pieces of information you have that point to the other party’s guilt, the better your case.

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