What is a fair settlement for a car accident?

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Things to remember...

  • If you are involved in a car accident, you may be entitled to for a settlement for both injuries you sustained yourself and damage done to your vehicle
  • If you are personally injured in a car accident, the settlement you receive will be based on your medical records, medical bills, any loss of income from your injuries, any other financial losses as a result of your injuries and your pain or suffering
  • For damage done to your vehicle in a car accident, the value of your vehicle and the cost of any repairs will determine the settlement you receive
  • In most states, it matters which driver was at fault for the accident in terms of how you will recover for both your medical damages and any damages to your vehicle
  • The key to resolving the settlement process successfully is having clear documentation of your damages and being diligent in your negotiations with the insurance company

Immediately after the car accident itself, the settlement process for filing and resolving your claim actually begins.

In all but 12 states in the country, the process for filing and settling your claim will depend on which driver caused the accident.

In the other states, there is a no-fault system, which means that your medical expenses are filed through your own insurance company.

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Filing a Claim After a Car Accident to Begin the Settlement Process

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In general, the way that the settlement process begins is by you filing a claim with an insurance company immediately after an accident.

If you have sustained serious injuries, filing a claim immediately may not be possible, but you should do so as soon as you are able.

Keep in mind that you may forfeit your right to recover for any damages if you delay too long and putting the insurance company on notice that you have been injured in an accident.

For any damages to be recovered from a personal injury, you will file against the other driver’s insurance company if they were at fault for the accident.

If you happen to live in one of the 12 states that have no-fault insurance systems, can you actually file against your own insurance company initially to recover for medical expenses up to a certain threshold amount?

If your medical damages exceed this threshold amount, then you would move on to try to recover against the other driver’s insurance company or the other driver personally.

This may require litigation, especially if there is a dispute over which driver was actually at fault for the accident.

If you are trying to recover for damages done to your car, then you will want to clearly document the evidence of damage to your vehicle and begin collecting estimates for repair costs.

In this case, the insurance company may send out a claims adjuster to inspect the condition of the vehicle and assess a reasonable cost for repairing the damages.

If your vehicle is damaged in a no-fault state, you actually file against the other driver’s insurance company because this system only applies to medical damages from an accident.

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Evaluating the Extent of Your Losses from a Car Accident

The first step in figuring out whether the settlement offer you receive is fair after an accident is assessing the actual amount of the damages you sustained.

While it may be easy to total the amount of any out-of-pocket medical expenses you may have, it gets trickier to determine the value of any pain or suffering after an accident.

Remember that you can also recover for loss of wages from your job, but this amount is also typically easy to calculate based on your average salary or wages.

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, you may have a long road to recovery.

This could be a life-changing event that alters your ability to perform many daily tasks that you used to be able to.

Assuming the other driver was the cause of the accident and your injuries, you may be entitled to recover for your pain and suffering arising out of injuries from the accident.

This is not necessarily an easy number to arrive at because it depends on many individual factors. It will also likely depend on analysis from medical experts, which is typically in the form of expert testimony at a personal injury trial.

Even if you begin negotiating the claim settlement process on your own, you may ultimately decide that having a lawyer represent your interests is the best way to ensure you are getting a proper settlement offer.

If you anticipate that there will be a dispute over the relative liability of the parties to an accident, this is typically a good scenario in which you should engage an attorney.

Remember that consulting with an attorney and having him represent your interests does not necessarily mean the case will end up in court.

Problems Negotiating with Your Own Car Insurance Company


Every insurance company knows that it has an obligation to negotiate in good faith with its policyholders for a claim.

If your auto insurance company does not offer to settle your claim up to the policy limits of your coverage, this may be grounds for a bad-faith claim against your insurance company.

A good resource for exploring options for a bad-faith claim against your car insurance company is always your state department of insurance.

Make sure that any communications with the auto insurance company are done in writing to the extent that is possible.

You want to be able to preserve a record of any unreasonable actions by your car insurance company.

It is important that you can trust your car insurance company in the claims process.

This is why price should not be your only consideration in choosing a car insurance company after getting multiple quotes.

Recap on Getting a Fair Settlement for a Car Accident Claim

The amount you are entitled to recover from an accident depends on the specific injuries you sustained and the amount of damage to your car.

If you think you are not getting a fair settlement, speaking with a personal injury attorney can help to expedite the resolution of your claim.

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