If another motorist’s negligence leaves you injured in a car accident, you’ll file a car accident claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. From here, you will resolve your claim with a settlement that addresses the damages (or losses) you’ve suffered. Because this settlement will directly affect your ability to recover, having an experienced Austin car accident attorney on your side is always well advised.
What’s in This Guide
- The Car Accident Settlement Process
- Claim Approval or Denial
- What if the Insurance Company Won’t Agree to a Reasonable Settlement?
- How Do I Collect My Car Accident Settlement?
The Car Accident Settlement Process
After being injured by another driver’s negligence, you’ll seek compensation through a car accident claim, which begins the settlement process. The most important consideration to keep in mind is that the insurance company is motivated by its own profits, which means keeping settlements like yours as low as possible by whatever means available.
Filing Your Personal Injury Claim
To begin, you will file your personal injury claim with the involved car accident company. In it, you will seek compensation for the financial losses (or legal damages) you’ve experienced, including:
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Your medical costs, which can be ongoing
- Your lost earnings, which may include lost earning potential
- Your physical and emotional pain and suffering
The better represented your complete damages are, the stronger your claim will be.
Investigating the Accident
An important component of your personal injury claim is the evidence included, and this evidence will be derived from investigations into the injury-causing accident. Your accomplished Austin car accident attorney will guide the investigative work involved in your claim, including all the following:
- Gathering evidence at the scene of the accident in the form of pictures and videos taken from every angle and perspective and depicting everything that may have contributed to the accident
- Taking eyewitness testimony
- Having an accident reconstruction created
- Securing expert testimony
Claim Approval or Denial
Once you file your claim, the insurance company may begin the negotiation process, or it may deny your claim outright. While such a denial can feel very final and you may be inclined to give up, it’s important to know that the insurance company’s denial is not the final word on the matter. You have the legal right to file a lawsuit against it – in pursuit of fair compensation – and the court will decide the matter on your behalf. Regardless of the insurance company’s position at this point, looking to your car accident attorney for skilled guidance is the way to go.
Seeking a Fair Settlement
Your primary goal is obtaining a settlement that fairly addresses your physical, financial, and emotional damages in their entirety. The insurance company, however, is invested in settling for less and may employ any of the follow in its efforts to accomplish this goal:
- Denying your claim outright (see above)
- Prolonging and/or complicating the settlement process
- Attempting to shift blame away from its policyholder (the at-fault driver) and toward you
- Casting doubt in relation to the severity of your damages
- Offering an early, lowball settlement offer (hoping you will accept out of financial desperation)
Your car accident attorney knows how to respond to the insurance company’s antics.
What if the Insurance Company Won’t Agree to a Reasonable Settlement?
If the insurance company that is handling your car accident claim refuses to negotiate in good faith and will not agree to a fair settlement, you have options.
The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of car accident claims in Texas – and across the nation – are settled out of court, and yours is very likely to also settle. If the settlement process, however, has come to a standstill, mediation is a viable option. At mediation, you, the insurance company, and your respective legal representation will meet with a neutral third-party – a professional mediator – at a neutral location in an attempt to hammer out your differences on the matter of your compensation. The mediator will help both sides better understand their options, how the law views the matter, and how the case is likely to be resolved if it goes to court. In the face of a lawsuit, the insurance company may resolve to dig a bit deeper in its efforts to compensate you fairly.
Filing a Lawsuit
If the insurance company is not engaging in fair dealings, your skilled car accident attorney will likely advise you to file a lawsuit against it. Sometimes, this motivates the car insurance company to take the matter more seriously, but if not, your attorney will be well prepared – with your strongest case – to skillfully advocate for your legal rights (and for your rightful compensation) in court.
How Do I Collect My Car Accident Settlement?
Once you and the involved insurance company have reached a settlement, there is the matter of how you will collect on that settlement amount to consider. There are two basic options, including:
- Receiving your settlement in a lump sum
- Receiving your settlement over time in a structured settlement
Both options come with pros and cons.
A Lump Sum
With a lump sum settlement payout, there is the advantage of receiving the funds upfront, which allows you to pay off your bills that are pending and to invest the funds as you see fit. If you have concerns about money management, however, this approach may be less desirable.
A Structured Settlement
With a structured settlement, you’ll receive your money over time, and while there are a variety of flexible terms available, once you settle on one, the involved terms cannot be changed. Due to the interest earned over time, structured settlements can ultimately yield more than lump sum payments, but they offer the claimant less financial control over the settlement.
Regardless of the kind of settlement you choose, the funds are tax free, but any investment-related increase in earnings is taxable. Discussing the best path forward with your knowledgeable car accident attorney is in your best interest.
- How Do I Negotiate More Money from a Car Accident Claim?
- What Is the Best Way to Settle a Car Accident?
Seek the Professional Legal Counsel of an Experienced Austin Car Accident Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured by another motorist’s negligence, the seasoned Austin car accident attorneys at The Patel Firm have a wealth of experience guiding cases like yours toward advantageous outcomes, and we’re here for you too. For more information about how we can help, please don’t wait to contact or call us at 361-400-2036 today.