Auto accident injury claims are third-party claims submitted to an insurance company (typically the other driver’s) so that you can cover your medical expenses and other costs after an accident that is not your fault. But there are quite a few mistakes that are easy to make in the process of getting a fair and prompt settlement. Here’s what to do — and what not to do — should you find yourself in the situation of needing to file an accident injury claim.
- DO Consult a Lawyer
Because the system for filing, supporting and negotiating a claim is complex, it will often be to your advantage to consult experienced personal injury lawyers before proceeding. These lawyers can help you figure out what constitutes a fair settlement and guide you in how to seek it. Your having a lawyer will also make insurance companies less inclined to take advantage of you.
- DON’T Jump to a Lawsuit
While it may be a good idea to hire a lawyer, you shouldn’t jump straight to filing a lawsuit. Litigation is expensive and more drawn out than most negotiations that take place outside the court, so it’s best to try those first. If the insurance company truly won’t budge, then it’s time to file a suit.
- DO Gather Evidence
Regardless of whether you’re simply submitting a third-party claim or filing a lawsuit, supporting evidence will make getting the settlement you want more likely. That means giving the insurance company copies of the medical records and similar documents they request (you should consult your lawyer on which documents not to provide).
- DON’T Be Unreasonable
You might have heard that car accident settlements can result in millions of dollars in compensation. While that’s technically true, you shouldn’t go in with the mindset that you’re owed more than your actual losses. Rejecting a reasonable offer that covers all your expenses — and perhaps a little more, as part of what are called “non-economic damages” such as pain and suffering” — can stall negotiations altogether.
- DO Fight for a Fair Settlement
While you shouldn’t be trying to make money off your settlement, you shouldn’t roll over and accept losses, either. If it’s a difference of a few hundred dollars, maybe it’s worth avoiding the time and expense of a protracted legal battle. But if it’s simply a bad settlement that would hurt your financial position, you should hold firm and get a lawyer who will support you in that decision.
Do you have any other questions or advice regarding accident injury claims or car accident compensation in general? Join the discussion in the comments.