How Do Car Accident Settlements Work?

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A car accident settlement refers to an agreement between a victim (plaintiff) and the at-fault party (defendant), prior to taking the case to court. Car accident settlements often come in the form of agreements between plaintiffs and insurance companies. Most car accident cases successfully reach settlements without needing to go to trial. This saves the plaintiff time, energy, and money. Although no two settlements are alike, understanding how most work in California or speaking with a local car accident lawyer can help you prepare.

You File a Claim With the At-Fault Party

California is a tort-based, or at-fault, insurance state. You will file your initial claim for damages with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. If you do not know the identity of the guilty party, wait for the insurance company to conduct an investigation. Make sure to give your side of the story to responding police officers, if applicable. Do not admit fault at any stage of the settlement process. Insurance companies will be looking for any reason to deny or reduce your settlement offer.

A Claims Adjuster Will Call You

After you file your claim, the at-fault party’s insurance company will assign someone called an insurance claims adjuster to your case. The adjuster’s job is to review the facts of the case, investigate as necessary, and recommend a decision to the insurance company. You may hear from the adjuster as soon as the day of your car accident. Be careful what you say to adjusters. They are on the insurance company’s side, not yours.

  • Do not admit fault
  • Do not agree to give a recorded statement
  • Do not offer any more details that are necessary
  • Do not accept the first settlement offer

A claims adjuster will be in charge of multiple cases in a typical month. Usually, the adjuster knows less about your car accident case than you do. The adjuster will try to minimize your recovery amount to save the insurance company money. Combat common tactics by hiring a lawyer to take over negotiations for you.

The Insurance Company Denies or Accepts Your Claim

You should hear from the insurance company within 30 days with an answer. If the insurer accepts your claim, you and the adjuster will enter into settlement negotiations. If you receive a denial, the insurance company has to give you a valid explanation as to why. You will then have the option of filing a lawsuit against the defendant and taking your case to court instead of using a settlement. Your case may also go to court if settlement negotiations are not enough to reach an agreeable amount.

You Fight for Fair Compensation

Again, most car accident cases achieve successful settlements without going to court. Some personal injury claims, however, require trials for victims to achieve the results of their serious injuries demand. You have the power to negotiate our settlement. Strengthen your arguments by hiring a lawyer to represent you.

During every step of the car accident settlement process, trust no one other than your attorney. The insurance company will be trying to minimize your settlement amount from start to finish. The best way to protect yourself and to fight for fair compensation is by hiring an attorney. A personal injury attorney is especially helpful if the car accident gave you serious, catastrophic, or disabling injuries. Learn more about the settlement process in Long Beach by talking to an attorney.