What to Expect in a Car Accident Lawsuit
Securing compensation in the aftermath of a car accident is rarely ever simple. Negligent drivers and their insurers will not hand over compensation without a fight. If there is a way for them to shirk their responsibilities, you can expect them to take full advantage of it.
Generally speaking, plaintiffs must file lawsuits to recoup compensation. According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurers paid out a total of $242,930,943 to clients in 2022. That is up considerably from the $196,850,584 figure the year before.
Working closely with a Baltimore car accident lawyer will be necessary if you intend to secure a portion of that payout following your car accident. You will need to go through a lengthy process before filing your lawsuit. Those steps include seeking medical attention, contacting your insurer, submitting a police report, and completing other essential tasks. Your lawyer will help guide you through that process.
Filing Your Car Crash Claim
Filing a car crash claim is easier today than it has ever been. Since most insurers make their services available online, you can start the claims process without leaving your home. That convenient service is accessible to both first and third-party claimants.
But what does it mean to be a first or third-party claimant in this context? Well, a first-party claimant is someone who submits a claim with their own insurance company. This usually happens when you’re at fault in an accident or dealing with other scenarios such as theft or an encounter with an uninsured or hit-and-run driver.
In contrast, a third-party claimant is an individual who files a claim with the other party’s insurance company. This typically occurs when the other party is at fault in an accident. In such cases, you’re essentially seeking compensation for damages from the at-fault party’s insurer. These distinctions are crucial to understand as they help determine how you navigate the claims process.
Make sure you have requirements ready before you file your car accident claim. When filing a claim, you must provide your name, contact details, and vehicle information. The insurer may also ask you to share details about the accident and your insurer.
Although this seems pretty straightforward, you should still seek a lawyer’s guidance before initiating this process. While relaying details about your car accident, you may reveal bits of information the insurer can latch on to and use to discredit your claim. They may use your words against you to suggest they do not owe you a payout.
You can prevent that from happening by coordinating with your lawyer first. They will tell you how to handle this process to ensure you can retain the right to receive compensation.
The Investigation Process
You can expect the insurer to initiate an investigation upon receiving your third-party claim. This investigation will allow them to learn the facts of the case and determine if your claims have any merit.
Throughout the investigation, you can expect the insurance adjuster to collect evidence, speak to witnesses, and talk to the police. They will do whatever is necessary to get to the bottom of the accident.
At some point in this process, the insurance adjuster will likely ask to speak to you as well. During this conversation, the adjuster will ask about your injuries and the medical attention you have sought. They may also ask you to share any details you recall about the accident.
Before speaking to the insurance adjuster, it is important to remember that they are working for the other driver’s insurer. Even if they claim to be impartial, you should expect them to look for loopholes allowing their employer to avoid liability. Simply put, speaking to an adjuster can be risky. Let your lawyer know that an adjuster wants to talk so they can be present for the interview.
Seeking Medical Treatment
Consulting a doctor is necessary if you were recently involved in a car accident. It is one of the first things you need to do whether you have visible injuries or not. You may think you are okay after the crash but discover later that you have sustained some injuries.
Concussions are among the injuries motorists commonly sustain from car crashes. It can be difficult to tell if you have sustained this particular injury since its symptoms do not always immediately emerge. According to the CDC, some concussion symptoms may not appear for hours or even days after the traumatic event.
Seeing a doctor right away will let you know if you have a concussion.
Doctors can also identify other injuries, such as fractures, herniated discs, and sprains. Due to the adrenaline coursing through your body, you may not sense these injuries in the moments following the accident. You may only experience them when the adrenaline wears off. Hopefully, you will be at the doctor’s office when that happens.
You should also consult a doctor to create a record detailing the injuries you sustained from the accident. That detailed medical record will come in handy when the time comes for you to file a claim. The insurer will have a hard time denying your claim if the work of a medical professional backs it.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
A representative from the insurer will likely call to discuss your claim after you officially file it. Expect them to call a few days after your formal submission. They are specifically calling to check if you want to settle your claim.
This is the point in the claims process where many plaintiffs make a crucial mistake. After hearing the insurance representative’s spiel and their warnings about the process of filing a lawsuit, a plaintiff may be convinced that taking the settlement offer is the best decision they can make. They may accept that settlement offer without knowing it is well below what they deserve.
You may know people who have fallen for that trap before. It is easy to blame them for being so naïve, but insurance representatives are experts at appealing to emotions.
Avoid making the mistake that countless other car accident victims have committed. If a representative from the other party’s insurer comes calling, instruct them to contact your lawyer. Let your lawyer handle that conversation.
Contact an Experienced Baltimore Car Accident Attorney
Do you need an attorney if you were involved in a car accident? That is a question that many accident victims ponder in the immediate aftermath of their mishap.
Hiring an attorney is often unnecessary if you were only involved in a minor car accident. If the other driver admits fault and covers the damage to your vehicle, you can probably settle matters without the help of an attorney.
That is the only car accident scenario where you can avoid hiring an attorney. You should handle the situation differently if you sustained injuries from the accident. Do not accept any upfront payments from the other driver without confirming your injuries first.
It would also be wise to seek counsel from a lawyer if the other driver says their insurance will cover the damage to your vehicle. Now that the insurer is paying for your losses, you should not expect them to offer a fair payout immediately. Call your lawyer at that point because only they can guarantee you will receive a proper payout from the insurer.
Deeper Investigation and the Gathering of Evidence
Attorneys help out car accident victims in various ways. Gathering evidence is among the essential tasks they perform on behalf of their clients.
The importance of evidence in a car accident lawsuit cannot be overstated. The evidence you present to the court may be the single biggest factor that can influence the success of your lawsuit. Show up to court with bulletproof evidence, and the other party may be left with no ways to counter or even downplay your claims.
An attorney can look for different pieces of evidence to bolster a car accident lawsuit. They may visit the accident site to take photos and request video footage from nearby establishments. A diligent attorney will also speak to any witnesses who can shed more light on your accident.
You can also count on your attorney to get your records in order. They can obtain your medical records from your doctor and coordinate with the police to secure the relevant accident report.
Diligent evidence collection is critical to the success of any car accident lawsuit, and you can count on your attorney to take care of that.
Your Attorney Sends a Demand Letter
Taking a car accident claim to trial is an option, but parties involved in these cases typically want to avoid that. You can instruct your attorney to send a demand letter to resolve the matter without going to court.
A plaintiff sends a demand letter to a defendant to indicate they are willing to start negotiations. Typically, a demand letter details the facts of a case and the type of compensation the plaintiff is seeking.
Using the demand letter, you should let your defendant know that negotiating is in their best interest. Otherwise, you are more than willing to file a lawsuit and take your claim to court.
According to the Legal Information Institute, a demand letter is also useful for creating documentation. If the case does reach trial, you and your attorney can point out that you were open to settling the matter.
The defendant is not required to answer the demand letter but should respond if they wish to negotiate. File your lawsuit if you do not hear back from the defendant.
The Negotiation Process
You have presented your evidence and detailed what you are seeking in terms of compensation. With all that information laid out, you can start legitimate settlement negotiations with the other party and their insurer.
Waiting until this point before negotiating is smart because you know what you deserve. Your medical and repair bills can detail the extent of your financial losses. On top of that, all the evidence your attorney has collected can prove without a shadow of a doubt that only one party is responsible for what happened. You can force the other side into a compromising position by beginning negotiations at this juncture.
Their only options include providing a payout that you deem is worthy based on your losses or taking the matter to trial. By going to trial, they risk losing more money because you can stop lowering your ask to reach a deal.
Remember to get any agreement you reach in writing. Do not allow the other side to waste your time by retracting their offer after lengthy negotiations. That may only be another tactic they are using to wear you down in the hopes that you will accept a smaller settlement.
Reaching a Settlement or the Filing of a Lawsuit
Negotiations will only end with you accepting a settlement offer or filing a lawsuit. So, which course of action should you take?
With matters like these, it helps to give the other side time to realize that you are standing firm on your demands. Do not hesitate to reject any offers that are clearly not enough to cover the losses you have already suffered. Reiterate during negotiations that you are only asking for the compensation you deserve, and the other side should recognize that.
What constitutes a fair offer may also vary from one case to the next. If you are struggling to decide if an offer is good enough, you can always run it by your attorney. They can tell you if the offer represents fair compensation based on the facts of your case and historical comparisons.
You should also consider filing a lawsuit if the other party is negotiating in bad faith. Filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean that you will head to trial. Instead, it may force the other side to make a decent offer. Submitting your lawsuit during negotiations also makes sense if you are getting close to the filing deadline, which is three years from the date of the car accident.
If filing the lawsuit still fails to generate some decent offers, you can shut negotiations down and focus on the trial.
How Often Do Car Accident Cases Go to Trial?
Frustrated by the negotiations, you and your lawyer may finally decide that heading to trial is the only way you will get fair compensation. On average, car accident cases only go to trial around 5% of the time.
Despite that low number, taking your case to court is a good decision. The only mistake would be accepting a considerably lower settlement offer than you deserve.
Furthermore, a trial is nothing to fear if you have an experienced lawyer and the truth by your side. You can recoup fair compensation after presenting your case.
John Leppler, Baltimore Car Accident Attorney
Attorney John Leppler is only one phone call away if you need legal assistance in the wake of your Baltimore car accident. Unlike the mega-firms in Baltimore, John is always ready to listen to victims in need.
Get in touch with us at Leppler Injury Law today and secure John’s services. You can claim the compensation you deserve with John on the case.