The majority of car accident cases are settled out of court. This is good for accident victims because it means that they get the compensation they need without having to wait for trial. However, the process can be difficult, and mistakes can cost you a significant portion of the compensation you need to rebuild your life. Even if you don’t want to go to court, a Laurel car accident lawyer can help you settle your case fairly and with minimal delay.
Step One: Contact the Insurance Company
The first step in the settlement process will involve informing the insurance company of your claim. This puts the insurance company on notice that you will be submitting a claim. This step can be tricky because the insurance company will ask a lot of questions about your accident. Some of these questions are harmless – the insurance company will need to know your contact information, the make and model of your car, and where and when the accident happened.
Other questions can be problematic. They may ask if you are injured and try to get your opinion as to the cause of the accident. How you answer these questions could jeopardize your claim down the road. If you have been injured in a car accident, the best thing to do is contact a Laurel car accident lawyer and let them handle the communications with the insurance company.
Step Two: Do Your Homework
The next step in the settlement process is to gather all of the documentation concerning the accident. This will include the following:
- A copy of the accident report from the police
- Copies of your medical records reflecting your injuries caused by the accident, the prescribed treatment, your prognosis, and any limitations caused by your injuries
- Copies of all bills including your medical expenses, estimates for repairing or replacing your vehicle, documentation concerning your lost wages, and any other monetary losses
- Photographs of your injuries, damage to your vehicle, and the scene of the accident
- Any other documentation or notes that you may have that document the impact your injuries have on your daily life such as your inability to take care of your family, participate in hobbies and other activities, or engage in basic daily activities
This step can be difficult if you are in pain and struggling to get through each day. A Laurel car accident lawyer can help with this step so that you can focus on your recovery.
Step Three: Estimate What Your Claim is Worth
After compiling your documentation, you need to determine what your claim will be worth. In other words, you are estimating the amount of compensation you need to be made whole. Your claim for damages will consist of the following:
- Your medical expenses, including any covered by your health insurance as well as your out-of-pocket expenses such as copays and deductibles
- Your lost income if you are unable to work following the accident or have to take days off to attend doctor’s appointments and physical therapy
- The cost to repair or replace your vehicle
- Your pain and suffering
Most non-lawyers settle their cases for far less than they are worth and then find themselves with bills they can’t pay. An experienced Laurel car accident lawyer will be able to estimate the total value of your claim, and then make sure you are fairly compensated for your losses.
Step Four: Issue the Demand Letter
Once you have arrived at a fair estimate of the compensation you deserve, the next step is to submit a letter to the insurance company demanding that they pay that amount. There is no specific form that should be followed, but the letter should contain sufficient detail with supporting documentation to support your claim. A Laurel car accident lawyer can draft an effective demand letter that sets forth a strong case.
Step Five: Negotiate the Claim
Insurance companies rarely pay the amount demanded. Instead, they will respond with a counter-offer. At this point, you can choose to accept the counter-offer or come back with a new offer. This is one of the situations where working with a Laurel car accident lawyer is a tremendous asset – they can leverage both their experience as a negotiator and their experience with car accident claims to ensure you get the best possible settlement.
Injured in a Car Accident? Call Laurel Car Accident Lawyer Thomas E. Pyles for Help Settling Your Claim
Settling your claim is more challenging than you might expect. Protect your right to fair compensation by contacting Thomas E. Pyles for help. You can schedule a free consultation by calling 301-705-5006 to discuss your case and what we can do for you.