Settling your car accident case basically means resolving your dispute through negotiation and coming to a mutually agreed upon settlement to your claim for damages incurred because of the accident. If you aren’t able to negotiate and settle a claim, the next step would be a trial. However, the vast majority of auto accident cases don’t end up in a full civil trial; most often, these cases end up reaching a settlement. Low value claims typically resolve and settle quickly but for car crashes involving injuries, especially long-term or serious injuries, settlement could be lengthy and require the help of a personal injury attorney.
What Does a Car Accident Settlement Cover?
The settlement you receive after a car accident first depends on the state you live in and the type of car insurance you have. If you live in a no-fault insurance state, like New Jersey or New York, you will start with your own insurance company who is liable to pay for your damages, regardless of fault. Even if the other driver was clearly at-fault, your rights to file a lawsuit after a car accident could be limited since the policy itself limits your right to sue for pain and suffering except for most serious injuries.
A car accident settlement can broadly cover a range of different damages to cover a victims’ injuries for both economic (monetary) and non-monetary losses such as:
- Medical expenses related to the treatment of the injury;
- Non-medical expenses because of the accident or injury, from medical devices to transportation to medical appointments;
- Lost income, both past and future,;
- The victim’s pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life resulting from the injuries; and
- Punitive damages to punish and deter reckless or outrageous behavior
Car accident victims in no fault insurance states often assume their own insurance company will fairly compensate them and take care of their needs. You may be initially surprised to realize that you need to negotiate with your own insurance companies to get fair compensation. When settlement negotiations begin, an insurance adjuster may try to take advantage of what you don’t know. If they can convince you into accepting their first offer, they may be taking advantage of your initial emotions and lack of full knowledge about your injuries and case.
It’s important to consider your prognosis and account for future damages when considering a settlement offer. If you have severe injuries, the settlement offer should include compensation for any future needs, such as future medical care, future pain and suffering, and more. If you are still seeking medical treatment, for example, you may require procedures or longer treatment in order to recover. If you accept a low offer too early, and still need treatment, you are on the hook for it.
What If a Settlement Can’t Be Reached?
While the vast majority of car accident claims are resolved through a settlement, that doesn’t mean that you should be quick to accept any offer that comes your way. It’s very common for car accident victims to be frustrated with the amount offered by the insurer. When a fair settlement can’t be reached, a formal lawsuit is filed and the process continues to fight on adequate compensation for your damages. Even filing a lawsuit, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a trial will occur. While the legal process may feel long and never-ending, perseverance is one of the key ways to maximize your compensation.
Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, Experts in Car Accident Settlements
While the car accident settlement process may require some patience, don’t let the time frame deter you from seeking the justice you deserve. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car crash, especially one involving serious injury or an accident that you believe was caused by another person's negligence, contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law and speak with a skilled car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Our firm has an in-depth knowledge of auto accident law and PIP arbitration, resulting in years of experience and proven results. We pride ourselves in being able to provide clients with the passionate representation they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation