Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be a long, tedious, and arduous process. Especially if you were injured, you’re more likely to want to just focus on recovery. As much as this is true, it’s inevitable also to go through the settlement process especially if negligence or dangerous driving is involved.
Whether you’re the victim or the erring party, negotiating a settlement is almost always a part of the recovery process. As the victim, you wouldn’t want to have to settle for less than what you deserve. As the erring party, it’s your responsibility to pay for just compensation, but reaching a settlement is necessary for both parties to move ahead.
That said, there’s always a first time for everything. If this is the case, here’s a beginner’s guide to the car accident settlement process.
1. Understand What Your Insurance Policy Covers
First point of call—after any medical checks—will be insurance. You’ll want to understand what your insurance policy covers. There's no point in negotiating something that you know you won’t be able to claim for. Whether you’re the erring party or the victim, it can speed up the settlement process when you’re both aware of the inherent limitations and expectations.
You can get to know what your insurance policy covers by going through the declaration policy page again. If anything is unclear to you, it helps to speak with a representative from the insurance company.
2. Initiate A Claim As Soon As Possible
Soon after the car accident happens, it’s advisable to initiate the claim as soon as possible. Don't wait until later to process this. Remember that there’s such a thing in law as the statute of limitations. This refers to that timeframe by which you have to file your claim. When you go beyond this time, you’ll be barred from initiating one.
So, to avoid this kind of situation, it’s best to initiate the claim as soon as possible. This can give everyone involved a chance to talk through the process thoroughly. If an amicable settlement can be done without rushing the process, then so much the better.
3. Be Patient, But Also Persistent
The truth is that negotiating car accident claims can take several months to complete. This can leave you feeling agitated, particularly if you’re in a rush to get it over with. But, it’s best to stay patient. You can be persistent by asking for the progress, what to expect next, and what the status of the claim and settlement is, but don’t cross the line of unprofessionalism.
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, as this may even affect a possible good settlement outcome out of your case.
4. Keep Accurate Records
Even if you’ve got a lawyer helping you out, it’s best if you also keep a record of everything that happened in the car accident. That way, should any of the documents of the other party’s lawyer or insurance company get lost, you’ve got extras to bring out.
Also, you never know if there are records you have that the other party doesn’t. These may serve as evidence, to help beef up your claim. Keep a file of everything – from police records, to doctor’s prescriptions, medical records, photos of the accident, and even contact details of potential witnesses.
5. Learn How To Accept An Offer
With your lawyer beside you, you’ll also have one big task to do: accept or reject the offer. This is a big responsibility, as it frames the outcome of the settlement. If you accept, then the negotiation is over and successful. Everyone can finally part ways and move on from the accident. If you reject, then the negotiation carries on.
Your lawyer will most likely give you insights about this, but here are some factors that can help you decide on whether or not it’s best to accept or reject:
- The time and uncertainty of a court resolution.
- How far apart the offer is, from that of your actual demand, and vice-versa.
- How much more you’re likely going to receive/need to give if you’ll bring your case up to court.
6. Calculate A Fair Settlement
The insurance company will certainly have their own calculation as to how much compensation you deserve to receive or need to give, based on the documents presented. But it doesn’t hurt to have your own calculation as well as to what you consider as a fair settlement. That way, both parties have a basis as to the floor and ceiling amounts throughout the negotiation.
In this process, you’ll want to take into account the following:
- The cost of repairing the damages on your vehicle.
- The cost of your medical and recovery expenses.
- The cost of the pain and suffering you may have endured in the accident.
All this considered, now you should have more insights that a car accident settlement process can be likened to any form of settlement. If you’ve never negotiated with an insurance company before or any other kind of negotiation for that matter, you’ll see now that it’s possible to obtain a favorable settlement that takes into account all pertinent damages to property, and injuries as well. In a good settlement, no party has to be at a disadvantage. The tips above can greatly help you out.
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