There are millions of car accidents every year, and if the cost of car damages wasn’t enough, there is also extra cost to hire a lawyer to help you settle the case. If you’ve ever considered making a claim without the help of the lawyer, then read on.
This article will help guide you to how to get money from a car accident without the help of a lawyer. Sometimes going through a lawyer can be easier depending on your circumstances, so this article will help you weigh up the options and go with a decision that will suit your financial situation.
If you were in a minor car accident with minimal damages to the car and no significant injuries apart from cuts and bruises and you’ve got proof that the other driver was at fault, then going through the insurance company should be simple and you’ll get suitable compensation.
If however, you were in a major car accident and have required extensive medical treatment, time off from work, and diminished your quality of life, then you should consider going through a personal injury lawyer to make sure you receive the correct settlement for your inconvenience.
If you are going to do it all by yourself, then here are the following steps you should follow. You’ll obviously need to follow the correct protocol that you would after any car accident, for example calling 911, taking insurance details, etc.
Assess your damages and injuries
You’ll need to spend a lot of time trying to think of all your possible damages and expenses to make sure you’ve covered all your bases to get the largest settlement possible.
You won’t be able to demand a higher settlement once you’ve put your claim across, so it is better to start higher and then if negotiations come into play you can take a slightly lower offer.
You’ll need to take into account any medical expenses, income lost from not working, future expenses to help you get by day-to-day.
Loss of earnings will differ depending on employment, if you are self-employed then you’ll have to provide your business records and tax returns so you can figure out how much you should be owed. If you are retired then you will not be eligible to receive compensation for loss of earnings.
Whilst medical bills will provide hard evidence of the extent of your injuries, you can also claim for psychology and mental problems that have impacted you as a result of the accident.
Apart from personal adjustments, you should assess and price up the physical damages of your car. Bumps and scratches will not equate to the same amount if you have totaled your car.
Build your case
You’ll need to make sure you’ve got sufficient proof to prove that the other party involved in the accident was at fault. If you’ve got witness statements to support your claim, then you’re more likely to receive a settlement more easily.
If you’ve got no evidence to support this claim at all, then the insurance company of the other driver can claim that you are at fault for various other reasons.
Speaking to the insurance company
Ring up your insurance company and find out what they’re willing to offer you for your car accident claim.
You’ll need to provide proof of your damages, medical expenses, and any other bills from here on and they’ll try to calculate a payment that they see fit to cover the accident. This amount is rarely enough and insurance providers will always try and offer a lower amount in the hopes that the person will take it.
Negotiate the settlement with the insurance company, putting across the extent of the accident and how it has affected you. If you can, look on the internet for how much you should receive for the kind of accident that you’ve had. There is no point negotiating and repeatedly asking for more money than you are entitled to.
Before writing a demand letter to the other person’s insurance company, you should follow these steps to make sure you’re completely covered to go ahead with the claim.
- Take pictures of the damaged vehicles involved at the scene and separately. (Photos of skid marks, broken glass, and any damaged car parts across the road will help).
- Take photos of your injuries and also collect a medical record of any treatment received.
- Ask for a copy of the police report from the accident
- Don’t speak to the other person involved insurance company
- Don’t post or speak about the accident to random people.
- Make sure you’re putting forth the claim within the correct time frame.
Write a demand letter
Once you’ve spoken with the insurance company and received their final settlement offer, you should now begin writing your letter to them to say why the settlement is too low.
You’ll need to take the time to carefully explain to them why you need more money and how the accident has impaired your life. Showing numbers and multiplications to show your loss of earnings, medical bills and expenses will help bolster your position.
They’ll soon reply to your demand letter with a counteroffer, which is never the amount that you are demanding. If you’re not happy with the sum that they are offering then you can decline and continue to negotiate with them, however, they are unlikely to budge to the settlement you want and you will end up going to court to try to win the settlement fair and square. If you’re happy to accept the settlement offer then you can freely do so, however, you will not be able to go back on this decision as the case will then be closed.
You should negotiate down from your original claim and not from the insurance companies counter offer. You must be prepared to be patient and be aware of procedural statements that the insurance company will make to make you back down.
Taking the case to court
If you do end up declining the insurance companies offer, then you could find yourself in court. However, it would be easier and less expensive to try and solve this claim without taking it to court.
Try and organize a meeting with the other person involved in the car accident and their attorney and put forth all your evidence that backs up your claim offer, hopefully, then something can be resolved and an adequate settlement can be obtained.
If the case does go to court, then you should be prepared for it to go the other way and you may even end up incurring the fees of the other driver’s lawyer as well. If you take the case to court, you’ll incur fees for taking the case before a judge, these include administrative charges and court fees.
Make sure you do your research before your court date and find out how much money other people, who were in a similar position to you, have received in the past. You’ll have to come with all your evidence of damages and expenses as well.
Waiting on the verdict
You’ll now have to wait back to hear the verdict. If you’ve won the case, then you’ll receive a settlement that is higher than what the insurance company has offered you but may not always be the amount you’ve requested.
If the court doesn’t think your case is solid enough to request a higher settlement, then they’ll insist you accept the settlement that the insurance company gave you in the first place.
At this point, you should feel entitled to accept the claim and move on with your life. If both the court and the insurance company feel that the offer is substantial enough to cover your damages and expenses then in most circumstances you should not try and implement further legal action. This will only add more costs for yourself and may even outweigh the cost of the settlement that you’re trying to receive.
You now know how to settle a car accident claim without the help of a lawyer, which will save you a whole load of fees and costs. However, this is sometimes not always the best route and it will often make the experience a lot more stressful.
You should enquire with a lawyer before making a decision of whether you should do it alone, some may advise that you can do it on your own but major car accidents with extensive damage should be dealt with properly by attorneys.