How to Know if You Should Settle Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer
If this is the first time you’ve been involved in a car accident, you may be confused about what to do and how the process works. You may be getting calls from the insurance company, or you may be concerned about getting your car repaired so you’ll have transportation. You may be wanting to know if you can settle a car accident claim without a lawyer. If you’re thinking about handling your car accident claim with the insurance company on your own, you’ll want to read on to learn the process of handling a car accident claim.
Caution: Types of Cases You Shouldn’t Handle on Your Own
Before we go any further, you need to know that there are certain types of cases that you shouldn’t handle on your own. The reason behind each of these is that some of these case types often accompany massive injuries or more complex case issues requiring more expertise to get a significant recovery. Another reason for hiring an attorney on these case types is that you will almost always recover more money for your car accident claim if you have an experienced personal injury lawyer handling your case. These cases are:
- Car accident involving more than $5,000 in medical bills. If you were injured in a car accident and have amassed more than $5,000 in medical bills, you will likely run into an insurance adjuster who will try lower the value of your car accident claim. You will want the expertise of a personal injury lawyer to make sure you get a sufficient amount for your car accident settlement to cover your car repairs, medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.
- Tractor Trailer and Commercial Vehicle Accidents. Accidents involving tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles often involve major injuries and become legally complex. Trucking accident victims many times suffer life changing injuries. Trucking companies quickly hire investigators and accident reconstructionists to defend the large trucking accident case. You will want a personal injury lawyer experienced with handling truck or commercial vehicle cases on your side.
- Motorcycle Accidents. Motorcycle accident cases are often difficult, because the motorcycle rider is often charged in the accident when they weren’t really the at fault party. Motorcycle accident claims also often involve serious injuries with significant medical bills. You’ll want a motorcycle accident lawyer to help you get the maximum recovery possible.
- Car Accident Involving a Drunk Driver. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you may be entitled to more compensation than the insurance company will want to offer you. In a drunk driving case, you will want to contact a personal injury lawyer to determine the value of your car accident claim.
Handling a Car Accident Claim: The Basics
A car accident that causes bodily injury to another person is considered a personal injury case. A car accident claim involving only property damage is not a personal injury claim.
*At the Ritchie Law Firm, our team will assist our personal injury clients with questions they have about their property damage claims. While there are some lawyers who will take property damage cases without an accompanying personal injury case, our team does not.
Common Mistakes Accident Victims Make in Settling Their Car Accident Claims
If you plan to handle your car accident claim on your own, you’ll want to be aware of the following common mistakes:
- Delaying Medical Treatment. It is understandable that many car accident victims want to delay consulting a doctor or seeking medical treatment until they assess the severity of their injuries. However, too much delay may give the insurance company cause to deny that certain medical treatment is related to the car accident. If you are injured, it is important to consult with a physician as soon after the accident as possible. It is also important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan, including therapy, medications, and follow up treatments, so the insurance company doesn’t have ammunition to devalue your car accident claim.
- Agreeing to a Settlement Before You’re Totally Recovered. Often, an insurance company will try on multiple occasions to make a settlement offer before you have completed medical treatment or before you are totally recovered from your injuries. Once you settle your car accident claim with the insurance company, you can’t go back and ask for more money if you have additional medical treatment or discover more injuries. It’s best to wait until you are certain you are fully recovered before asking for a car accident settlement.
- Statute of Limitations. Many car accident victims are unaware that there is a deadline by which their car accident claim must be settled or a law suit filed in a court. If there is no settlement or law suit filed by the statute of limitations date, your car accident claim may be barred and you may be prevented from receiving settlement.
- Giving a Recorded Statement that Compromises Your Claim. The insurance company will almost always ask you to give a recorded statement. We advise our clients not to agree to giving a recorded statement. We find that the insurance company often tries to use this statement to deny an auto accident claim or devalue a car accident settlement.
What’s Needed for a Car Accident Settlement with the Insurance Company
Before you attempt to settle your car accident claim on your own, you’ll need to gather or prove these things:
- The at fault party’s negligence caused your injuries. If you had an injury before the car accident happened, you may only be entitled to compensation for how the accident worsened your pre-existing injuries.
- Photographs of the cars and accident scene can help to show how the collision occurred.
- The insurance company will want a crash report from the investigating police officer.
- Copies of your medical records and medical bills for treatment related to the car accident. Many times, the insurance company will want you to sign a release so they can obtain your medical bills and records on their own. This is often a problem as the insurance company may request more records than just the ones related to the car accident and use those to claim that injuries existed before the car accident.
- Proof of any amounts your health insurance may have paid on medical bills for your car accident case.
- Proof of any future medical expenses that might be required to recover from your auto accident injuries. The listing of any anticipated future medical bills would also have to be accompanied by corresponding medical records supporting that the treatment would be needed.
- Proof of your lost wages from your employer. Usually an insurance company will want a signed statement from your employer showing the total amount of lost wages resulting from the auto accident.
Negotiating with the Insurance company: How to Get a Fair Settlement
After you have recovered from your car accident injuries and completed your medical treatment, you can ask the insurance company to begin settlement negotiations in hopes of getting a fair settlement. The insurance company may request a demand letter from you outlining all of your expenses and requesting a settlement amount.
In determining the amount you wish to recover to settle a car accident claim, the amount you’ve accumulated in medical bills should be considered, along with any future medical expenses you might need and your pain and suffering damages. There is no specific formula used for amounts to be included in car accident demand letters to the insurance company. The amount requested is usually based on the extent of the injuries, how severe the impact of the collision was, and how long medical treatment lasted.
Caution: Things You Should Investigate Before Settling Your Car Accident Claim
If you plan to settle your car accident claim without a lawyer, you will want to determine the following:
- Has the car insurance company taken recorded witness statements? Will they give you a copy of those statements?
- Will the insurance company tell you how much liability insurance coverage the at fault party has?
- If the insurance company requires you to sign a medical release, will they give you copies of all medical records they collect with the release?
- If you settle your property damage and the insurance company asks you to sign a Release of Claims or other Settlement Agreement, does the agreement include any language about settlement the bodily injury portion of the claim?
Car Accident Lawyer
It’s important to recognize that insurance companies will do almost anything they can to deny a car accident claim. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you can expect to be busy filing insurance claims not only for your injuries, but also for the property damage to your vehicle. You can also expect to be requesting medical records and documentation for any lost wages. This means that you will likely be dealing with insurance adjusters at some point. Dealing with an insurance company is not as straightforward as it may seem. There are many traps which can negatively impact the value of your case. So, it is just commonsense that you would consult with a personal injury attorney about your case before you make a mistake.
Most car accident lawyers have a free consultation for personal injury cases. It won’t cost you anything to talk with them and get some advice. Then, you can decide whether you need a personal injury attorney helping you with your case before incurring legal fees.
Talk with a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
If you have questions about how to settle a car accident case, the Ritchie Law Firm is here to help. If you are planning to handle your car accident claim without the help of a lawyer, it is best to get some advice before settling your claim. The experienced personal injury lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm help car accident victims get the recovery they deserve after an auto accident. The best personal injury lawyers will have substantial recoveries for their clients listed on their websites. Check out Ritchie Law Firm’s success with personal injury cases on our settlements and recoveries page.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Virginia and are concerned about dealing with the insurance adjuster after a Virginia car accident, the Ritchie Law firm has you covered. The experienced, certified Virginia car accident attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm have helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.
DON’T GET HURT TWICE!! Your Virginia car accident attorney team at the Ritchie Law Firm will help you deal with the insurance adjuster after Virginia car accident. We have helped thousands of injured people get the money they deserve after they’ve been injured. Call today to get your free case evaluation and free consultation — 800-277-6124.
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Ritchie Law Firm is a Virginia and West Virginia personal injury and car accident attorney aw firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. The personal injury lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.