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Tips for Settling a Car Accident Claim

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Tips for Settling a Car Accident Claim

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After you have been in a car accident, you may wonder how you can recoup some of your monetary losses. If the wreck is not your fault, you should not have to pay for your own damages and injuries. You can use these simple and effective tips to pursue and settle a car accident claim against the responsible driver.

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Get Pertinent Information about the Other Driver

In the immediate aftermath of the wreck, your primary attention may revolve around checking yourself for injuries and worrying about the damages inflicted to your vehicle. As pressing as these issues are, they should not overshadow the importance of getting the other driver’s pertinent information.

Before you leave the scene of the accident, you should make sure you get details like:

  • The other driver’s name and contact information
  • The name of the driver’s insurance company
  • The driver’s auto insurance policy number
  • The name and contact details for any accident witnesses
  • The names of law enforcement officers who responded to the accident

If you have a cell phone with you, you should also take pictures of the accident scene as well as the locations of the vehicles after the wreck. You should likewise photograph damages to each car as well as the license tag on each vehicle.

Have a Settlement Figure in Mind

After you have your car towed to a repair shop and get your injuries treated, you should then turn your attention to the amount of money you want to seek out in an insurance claim. You should identify the dollar range for the settlement you will accept; you should also decide on the lowest dollar amount you will accept to settle the claim.

Even with that dollar amount in mind, however, you should be open to negotiating and be flexible in the claim. You may want to adjust your settlement figure based on any reasonable facts the adjuster points out during the negotiations.

Do Not Accept the First Offer

The claims adjuster you will work with will more than likely offer you an initial sum of money to settle the claim. It is important that you do not rush to accept this first settlement particularly if the amount seems unreasonable and unfair. The adjuster is simply offering the amount as an opening to negotiations between you and the insurer.

It is at this time that you want to use that settlement figure that you came up with to continue the negotiations with the insurer. You should counter with a higher sum and then be willing to continue the back and forth offers until both you and the insurer have reached a settlement that is fair and realistic.

It can be important for you to keep an open mind during the negotiations and resist clinging to a dollar amount that you decided early was what you need or want. You should demonstrate some flexibility and openness to negotiating if you want to reach an amount that is close to or exactly the amount of money you planned to pursue in the first place.

Write an Insurance Demand Letter

Another tip to use to settle an accident claim is writing an insurance demand letter. This letter essentially points out that you are fully aware of what your claim is worth and what kind of money you are entitled to for your suffering and damages. You do not have to be a prolific writer to draft an insurance demand letter. You can find templates for it online.

In the letter, you should make clear all of the reasons you believe you receive your full claim amount. You should also attach documents like medical bills and auto body repair receipts supporting the value of your claim. Each document should be a full explanation in support of the reasons you are pursuing the specified claim amount.

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Emphasize the Emotional Aspects of the Wreck

Along with submitting an insurance demand letter to the insurer, you should also take the opportunity to emphasize all of the emotional aspects that the wreck had on you and your loved ones. For example, you should submit photos of your wrecked car or a devastating injury you are suffering from as a result.

If the other driver was inebriated at the time of the wreck, you should also submit any proof of that fact like pictures of beer bottles in the person’s car to the insurer. You likewise may point out the dangers of that particular section of road and provide statistics of accidents that have occurred there in the past. These details could compel the insurer to settle the claim to your satisfaction quickly.

Hire an Attorney

Settling an accident claim can be challenging if you are trying to resolve the matter by yourself. Rather than go up against attorneys representing the other driver alone, you should hire an attorney of your own.

You should especially be open to hiring an attorney if you are:

  • Demanding compensation for serious injuries, pain, and suffering worth more than a few thousand dollars
  • Seeking future damages for loss of income and medical treatments you expect to undergo
  • Settling the question of who is at fault for the accident

These issues can become contentious in court. Your attorney can provide all of the necessary proof like medical records, eyewitness statements, and video surveillance to get the claim settled in your favor.

Get the Settlement in Writing

Another reason you want to have an attorney by your side involves formalizing the settlement. You should make sure you get the offer in writing before you agree to anything. Your attorney can ensure the other party submits the written offer in a timely manner and that it includes all of the details you negotiated during the claims process.

Your attorney will also make sure you do not sign any settlement offer if it does not satisfy the damages you incurred during and after the wreck. The written offer will be legally binding and a point of reference if you need to go back to court to re-litigate the claim.

A car accident can be a traumatic event that leaves you with long-lasting financial ramifications. These tips help you negotiate a fair settlement and resolve the claim you make against the responsible driver. You may resolve the situation faster and to your advantage by hiring a skilled attorney to represent you.

 

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