Soon after a car accident, you’ll want to file an insurance claim. This is one of the ways you’ll receive financial compensation for your medical bills and other financial losses.
It can be tempting to try to settle your car accident claim without a lawyer. While you’re certainly in your right to do so, having a qualified car accident attorney on your side can yield much better results.
Below are some tips for representing yourself, as well as more information on the benefits of working with a car accident attorney to settle your car accident claim.
Tips for Working Independently to Settle a Car Accident Claim
If you want to represent yourself and handle your car accident settlement claim without legal counsel, keep these steps in mind. You’ll want to go into it as prepared as possible.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
First and foremost, your health and well-being are most important after a car accident. Whether you receive emergency medical attention at the scene of the accident or not, you’ll want to follow up with a doctor.
A physician can examine you and order any medical testing necessary to provide a proper diagnosis for your injuries. Once you understand the extent of your injuries, you can begin receiving medical treatment.
Complete Medical Treatment
You should begin and fully complete your medical treatment plan as directed by your doctor.
While it may seem okay to be inconsistent with treatment or stop altogether if you’re feeling better, never stop treatment without first consulting your doctor. You can trust that your physician has given you the best treatment plan to allow you to recover as much as possible from your injuries.
Inconsistency with your medical treatment, or stopping entirely, communicates a bad message to the insurance company as well. They can review your medical records and may conclude that your injuries were not as serious as you claimed them to be. This can have a substantial negative impact on your settlement.
Determine the Extent of Your Injuries to Calculate Damages
To pursue fair compensation for your losses, you’ll need to understand the extent of your injuries to best calculate your damages.
Damages awarded for a car accident depend on the details of your case, but could include:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
You should consider all of the expenses related to your car accident, including medical bills and any potential expenses you may incur later on, like those for future medical treatment.
Every car accident case has a monetary value. To help ensure that you’re getting what you deserve from the insurance company, you must determine what your case is worth.
Establish the Other Party’s Negligence
Liability is one of the most critical parts of a car accident claim. To pursue compensation from the other party, you’ll need to prove they were negligent for your accident and injuries in the first place.
Establishing the other party’s negligence requires satisfying the following elements:
- The other party owed you a duty of care
- The other party breached that duty of care
- The breach caused your accident
- You suffered injuries and other losses
For example, if the other party rear-ended you, you could establish their negligence by stating and proving:
- The driver owed you a duty to drive carefully and responsibly
- The driver breached this duty by driving distractedly
- The driver’s distracted driving caused your accident
- You suffered injuries and other losses from your accident
Evidence is crucial when proving the other party’s negligence, and can include police reports and witness statements.
Without establishing that the other party’s negligent actions caused your accident, it can be nearly impossible to win financial compensation for your injuries.
Engage in Settlement Negotiations with the Insurance Company
In most cases, it’s not wise to accept the insurance company’s initial settlement offer. An insurance company’s first offer is usually low and doesn’t cover the damage you endured. Don’t be afraid to contact the insurance adjuster to try to negotiate the settlement amount.
Understand You May Not Get the Outcome You Want by Representing Yourself
Dealing with insurance companies is never easy, especially when you’ve never handled a car accident claim before.
Working independently and handling your own claim requires plenty of time and patience, and you may not end up with the most favorable outcome. Because of the way insurance companies do business, there’s a slim chance you’ll get maximum compensation by representing yourself.
It’s unfortunate, but working alone to settle your car accident claim has its disadvantages.
Issues You May Encounter When Attempting to Settle Your Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer
You’ll likely encounter some bumps on the road to financial recovery when you handle your own car accident claim. To be better prepared, below are some of the most common issues you might come across with the insurance company.
The Insurance Company May Send You a Settlement Offer Too Early in the Process
It is not uncommon for the insurance company to want to settle your claim as quickly as possible. But what’s the rush?
First, the insurance company knows that you don’t know the full extent of your injuries. If you’re unaware of your injuries and the damages you’re owed and don’t know the true value of your case, there’s likely no way you’ll be able to prove the insurance company’s settlement offer is not enough.
The insurance company may also put some pressure on you to accept the settlement offer quickly, giving you little to no time to get legal advice.
When you get a settlement offer very soon after your accident, the insurance company is playing their game — they know what they’re doing.
The Insurance Company Will Likely Lowball You
When the insurance company lowballs you, this means they’re offering to settle for much less than your case is worth.
Insurance companies are all about money, and they want to keep their money. Therefore, they’ll do anything to pay you as little as possible.
Insurance companies also get away with lowballing injured victims because they know they can. There are many reasons why individuals accept insurance companies’ lowball offers, usually because they want to get a settlement check quickly, or they think the settlement offer is fair enough.
Look for red flags indicating the insurance company is lowballing you, including avoiding explaining how they calculated their figure.
The Insurance Company May Employ Tactics to Limit Liability
Insurance companies are always looking for ways to limit their liability, as doing so helps minimize the amount they have to pay out. To limit their liability, insurance companies employ certain tactics, including:
- Minimizing your injuries
- Using your words against you
- Shifting liability to you or a third party
The insurance company will likely try to make your injuries seem less serious than they actually are. The less severe your injuries are, the less they need to pay you.
You may also receive communication from the insurance company at some point asking you for a recorded statement. It might seem innocent enough, but if you provide a statement, they may try to twist your words and use them against you.
When all else fails, the insurance company may try to claim that you were partially or completely at fault for your accident, or that a third party played a role in the collision.
The Insurance Company Will Take Advantage of an Unrepresented Claimant
Unfortunately, and as unfair as it may be, insurance companies are prone to take advantage of injured victims who don’t have legal representation.
Insurance companies know there’s only a small chance that the victim has the knowledge and experience necessary to pursue maximum compensation. Most individuals are not familiar with the procedures and laws related to car accident insurance claims, which can be a significant disadvantage.
Consider Working with a Car Accident Lawyer Before Accepting a Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company
While it may be enticing to accept the insurance company’s initial settlement offer right away, it’s important to hold off. Even if the insurance company tries to pressure you into accepting, take your time and don’t give in.
After receiving a settlement offer, review it for yourself, and then consider speaking with a car accident attorney about it.
Even if you’re apprehensive about meeting with a lawyer, there’s no reason to be. Car accident lawyers often offer free, no-obligation consultations. This gives you the chance to talk to an attorney without feeling pressured to commit to legal representation. The choice is always yours.
If you want to get some valuable advice and insight, don’t hesitate to consult with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer.
Is It Even Possible to Settle a Car Accident Claim Without an Accident Lawyer?
The short answer is yes. However, the real question is: Should you attempt to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer? In most cases, no.
Legally, you’re not required to have a car accident attorney handle your claim. But for the reasons listed above and many others, it can be particularly challenging to try to settle your car accident claim on your own.
It’s also critical to note two very important details: You only have one shot at recovery, and time is not on your side.
When you accept the insurance company’s settlement offer, you’re agreeing to that figure, and will no longer have the opportunity to pursue additional compensation from them. Since there’s no turning back once you settle, you want to make sure that you do it right.
Additionally, your accident triggers a statute of limitations. Starting on the date of your accident, you only have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit for recovery if doing so becomes necessary. Therefore, you want to act quickly to ensure that you have enough time to do what needs to be done.
While you can settle your car accident claim on your own, there’s no valid reason to do so. Having a car accident attorney on your side will give you invaluable assistance as well as the knowledge that your claim is handled promptly and correctly.
How Can a Lawyer Help Settle a Car Accident Claim?
There are multiple steps to take before settling a car accident claim. No matter what happens with your claim, you can feel confident knowing your car accident lawyer knows what they need to do to pursue maximum financial recovery.
Among the many tasks a car accident attorney can take on while managing your claim, they can do all of the following:
- Thoroughly examine the details of your accident
- Accurately calculate your damages
- Establish the other driver’s negligence
- Draft a demand letter and send it to the insurance company
- Collect evidence and documentation to strengthen your claim
- Engage in back-and-forth settlement negotiations on your behalf
- File a lawsuit, if necessary
- Represent you every step of the way
In addition, a car accident lawyer can help you resolve your case more quickly than if you did everything on your own.
It can be intimidating to relinquish control over your claim and have a car accident lawyer step in to help you. Nevertheless, allowing an attorney to do what they do best and represent you will be one of the best decisions you make for the success of your claim.
For Assistance with Car Accident Claim Settlements, Consult with a Skilled Car Accident Attorney
If you still feel unsure about working with a car accident lawyer to settle your car accident claim, it’s understandable. Once you schedule your initial consultation, be sure to go into the meeting prepared with documentation, questions, and your settlement offer, if you have one.
The first meeting is the perfect time to have the lawyer address your questions and concerns and also get to know them. After your consultation, you’ll likely feel more confident and knowledgeable than you did when you walked in.
The Joel Bieber Firm Wants to Help You Settle Your Car Accident Claim
At The Joel Bieber Firm, we want to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. We have extensive experience working with insurance companies and are familiar with the tricks and tactics they use to limit their liability and avoid paying you what your claim is worth.
You already have physical and financial challenges to deal with after an accident — you shouldn’t have to put up with a difficult insurance company too. Let us step in and aggressively protect your rights to fair financial recovery for your injuries.
Our legal team has the knowledge, skills, and resources to pursue the most favorable outcome for your case.
Contact The Joel Bieber Firm for a complimentary consultation.
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