Being in an auto accident can be a major setback in several ways. First, even minor accidents could cause you to visit the doctor. Second, there is lost time from work. Maybe it is only a day or two, but for these working paycheck-to-paycheck (heck, that is most of us) each lost day only puts you further behind. Lastly, you will need to deal with an insurance company. Maybe it is yours, or maybe it is the other parties. This can be a difficult process to navigate, but here is a guide you can use to win accident settlement negotiations.
According to the Law Offices of Todd D. Beauregard, P.C., a law firm specializing in auto accidents, the process of winning accident settlement negotiations ‘requires trained professionals, skilled to work with insurance adjusters, opposing parties, and opposing attorneys so the client can decide on early settlement or place the matter into suit.’
Simply put, you need someone who will fight to make sure you get a fair and timely deal. This is important as auto accident settlement negotiations can be complicated matters. In some cases, finding fault is impossible to determine and in other cases, the nature of the damage may require compensation over years.
As such, you want to make sure you are getting the most from your settlement. If not, then you will end up having to pay for the accident, even if you were not to blame, out of your own pocket.
You might be asking what is the best strategy for dealing with accident settlements? The first step is to make sure you get information on the other driver, their insurance company, and a copy of the police report. This is important as any delay in getting this information will delay settlement.
Another great idea is to take photographs or videos of the accident scene. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that nearly 68% of adults in the U.S. have smartphones, so it is likely that either you or someone else in the car can take pictures of the accident scene. Granted you are probably not a professional photographer and you may even be injured from the accident; but if you can, then it is a good idea to take pictures of the accident scene.
Make sure these pictures include the location of the accident, damage to all vehicles or property involved, license plate of all vehicles involved, and the drivers and passengers. This way you will have a full record of the aftermath. This information should be shared with your insurance company and the advocate you retain to help you with the settlement process.
This brings up another important point – never assume the insurance company is on your side. Insurance companies make money by denying claims and they are motivated to pay as little as possible on every claim filed. Auto insurance one of the worst cases as coverage is mandated by your state, so the insurers have you at a disadvantage.
Given, the fact that your insurance company is not on your side, you want to make sure that you the police report clearly states who is at fault and you want to have all the paperwork required for the claim. This includes having copies of receipts for towing, taxis, medical bills, rental cars, etc. You also want to get an affidavit from your employer stating time lost at work due to the accident and related visits to the doctor.
Another important step is to seek the advice of an advocate who has experience working with insurance companies. They will understand the process and will help to guide you through it. Insurance companies don’t want you to take the claim to court, as this will cost them more money. However, they generally want to make the process difficult as this will dissuade most people from pursuing the claim.
Don’t forget medical expenses. Some people have been bankrupted by medical expenses stemming from auto accidents, so you want to make sure you have a plan to make sure your treatment is covered.
As such, you will want to seek out a licensed attorney who specializes in settlements relating to medical expenses. This is important as the costs of medical treatment could stretch well beyond a visit to the emergency room and you might not want to accept a quick settlement if your treatment is expected to take months or years.
Winning accident settlement negotiations not only means having all the information pertaining to your accident but it also means having someone on your side who knows the process. Don’t try to it alone, get an advocate to make sure you come out on top.