This is What Everyone Needs to Understand About Auto Accident Claims

Posted by at 23 December 2018, at 01 : 27 AM

This is What Everyone Needs to Understand About Auto Accident Claims

Auto accidents in the U.S. are far too common, resulting in many injuries and fatalities every year. The National Safety Council reports that an estimated 40,100 people were killed in accidents in 2017, which was a slight decrease from the 40,327 fatalities that occurred in 2016. Another 4.57 million people were injured seriously enough to require medical attention after car accidents in 2017.

Even when people exercise caution on the roadways and follow all traffic rules, they may still be unexpectedly involved in accidents that are caused by other drivers. When people are injured or killed in accidents, the injured victims or the families of people who are killed may file auto accident claims. Understanding what to expect with auto accident claims is important so that people can avoid some common missteps.

No-fault vs. fault

Some states, including Florida, have no-fault insurance systems. People who live in no-fault states must file their auto accident claims with their own insurers. They may only file claims against an at-fault driver if the injuries meet one of the exceptions to the no-fault laws. For example, when people in Florida suffer permanent injuries, significant scarring, permanent loss of the function of a body part, or death in accidents, they or their families may file lawsuits directly against the at-fault drivers.

People who live in other states that do not have no-fault insurance schemes file auto accident claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance policies and do not have to file claims with their own policies. Understanding the rules that apply in your state is important so that you understand the proper company with which to file your claim.

Insurance Companies may try to Minimize Payouts or to Avoid Them Altogether

Insurance companies may employ different strategies in an effort to minimize the amounts that they might have to pay claimants or to avoid paying them altogether. After an insurance company has learned about an accident, it will likely contact the victim and ask for a statement. An insurance adjuster may ask car accident victims to provide recorded statements and to sign medical authorization forms.

When people agree to give recorded statements, the insurance companies use their statements to try to find something to use against them in their auto accident claims. Medical authorizations are used by insurance companies to gain access to the entire health records of accident victims in an attempt to blame the injuries on an earlier incident. It is best for people to politely refuse to give recorded statements or to sign any documents without first consulting with an experienced auto accident attorney. If a lawyer agrees to accept representation, he or she can handle the negotiations with the insurance company and help prevent clients from making mistakes that could harm their claims.

Most Auto Accident Claims Are Settled Before Trial

According to the U.S. government, statistics show that 95 percent of accident claims are resolved through settlements before trial. Some personal injury attorneys never set foot in courtrooms and settle every claim that they accept. People should consider whether a lawyer has trial experience.

Choosing an accident lawyer who has an established track record of successes at trials may help accident victims to recover more compensation. Even if their claims are ultimately resolved in settlements, insurance companies may be likelier to offer higher settlement amounts if people are represented by injury lawyers who are unafraid to take cases to trial and who have a record of winning verdicts for their clients.

The Auto Accident Claim Process Can be Lengthy

One thing that many auto accident victims are unprepared for is the length of time it can take to resolve an auto accident claim that involves serious injuries or deaths. Accidents that involve more than property damage may take a year or two to resolve. There are several reasons why auto accident claims often take many months or several years to settle or to go to trial.

When serious accidents occur, both the insurance company and the plaintiff’s attorney will need time to conduct in-depth investigations of the circumstances surrounding the collisions. A personal injury attorney may hire experts such as accident reconstruction experts, medical experts, and others to build strong evidence that clearly shows liability. Conducting a thorough investigation takes time.

Injury lawyers may initially send demand letters to the insurance companies to try to reach a fair settlement. The insurance companies may counter with a lower amount than was demanded or may dispute the liability of their insureds. If negotiations fail, the attorneys may then file formal civil complaints in court to initiate lawsuits.

The insurance companies will be given time to file their answers to the complaints, and the cases will then enter into a discovery period. During discovery, both sides must exchange the evidence that they have. Discovery may include depositions and interrogatories. During discovery, the negotiations will continue on an ongoing basis.

While the vast majority of claims are settled before trial, the claims process can be lengthy. Understanding that the process can take a long time before a claim is resolved can help people to know what they might expect. People might benefit by promptly consulting with personal injury lawyers soon after their accidents so that they can concentrate on getting better while the attorneys can handle the claims on their behalf.

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