After suffering injury in a car accident, you may immediately contact the other party's insurance company in an attempt to receive fair compensation. Unless your case is extremely straightforward, it is not likely the insurance company will provide a settlement that covers your pain and suffering, property damage, medical bills and time off work. Once you exhaust your attempts to win a fair compensation package on your own, you may need to work with a personal injury lawyer to resolve the case. Your personal injury lawyer will weigh the details of your case during the initial consultation period to identify your chances of scoring a positive outcome in court. Although lawyers cannot guarantee a specific payout, most will use the three following factors to identify the chances of winning a fair compensation package.
In order to demand payment from the responsible party, court officials want to know exactly who caused the accident and how. Your lawyer must recreate the accident details for the court to demonstrate that you did not cause the accident in any way. Court officials will review the case and assign a fault percentage to each party.
In most states, if you carry any responsibility for the accident, your total payout may be reduced by that percentage. Unfortunately, in a handful of states, the contributory negligence rule prevents drivers deemed partially responsible for the accident from collecting a settlement at all. To prepare you for this process, your lawyer will walk you through the expected fault assignment and local laws concerning payouts before your case hits the courtroom.
If you look closely at the other party's insurance policy documents, you may notice that the coverage amounts specifically address bodily injury. The term bodily injury directly refers to your physical being, not your mental state.
If you suffer intense fear or high stress levels from mental trauma stemming from the accident, the insurance settlement may not cover medical care or lost wages for that condition. Prior diagnoses of depression or panic disorders could further complicate your accident settlement claim. Lawyers may be able to push the insurance company to provide a fair settlement, however, by presenting similar compensation rulings from the court system in that jurisdiction.
Drivers only need to carry the lowest liability limit required by law to legally drive on public roadways. If you are hit by a driver carrying low liability limits, your medical bills, property damage, lost wages and other costs may far exceed those given amounts. Unfortunately, insurance companies will not pay out anything beyond the listed limit. Instead, your lawyer must file a civil claim against the responsible party in an effort to win the full compensation amount.
Insurance representatives may push you to settle within the given limit by stating that is all you are bound to receive. Upon winning the case, and collecting the maximum policy amount from the insurance company, your lawyer can put a lien on the policyholder's home or business for future payment of the remaining amount.
In Conclusion: Measuring The Impact
Your lawyer may wish to try working with the insurance company for a fair settlement before taking the case to court. Your lawyer will provide a figure to the insurance company representing the financial toll caused by the accident. The insurance representative will review their side of the case to determine if the claim is worth fighting in court.
By going through the legal process, the insurance company risks having to payout a higher settlement amount along with lawyer and court fees. If the insurance company continues to offer a low settlement amount or declines payment, your lawyer will prepare documents, photographs, witness statements and other evidence for the courtroom. For more information, contact a law firm like Solomon, Sherman & Gabay.