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Understanding the Basics of Car Accident Claims
With car accident claims, you do have the ability to represent yourself without a lawyer. It can be tempting to file a claim without legal help to keep the cost lower. However, that comes with immense challenges and a lot of time and effort, as well as the possibility of receiving lower compensation than you deserve.
Steps to Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer
Investigating the Collision
During the initial investigation of the car accident right after it occurs, two tasks are vital to filing your claim:
- Gathering evidence
- Determining who is liable
Both of these aspects can make or break your case. You need the evidence to prove how much compensation you should receive and argue against your liability in the accident.
Building Your Case
When it comes to filing the claim, you will need to intimately understand your state’s personal injury laws, as well as your state insurance.
The complexities of your state’s personal injury laws can be difficult to navigate, but they are essential to creating a successful claim. You will need to research both the laws and insurance to be confident that your claim is filed correctly.
You will also need to calculate the value of your damages, which will determine the compensation that you will receive if your claim is successful. This is where the evidence and documents you gathered will help. There is no equation to calculate what your damages should be, which is why hiring a professional can make all the difference during this step.
Communication with Insurance Companies
You will need to discuss your claim with an insurance adjuster, who will determine how much of the damages they are willing to cover based on a variety of factors, like the damage done to your car and your medical expenses.
Unfortunately, insurance companies prefer to pay as little as possible, so the offer will most likely be too low and will need to be negotiated.
Documentation and Evidence
One of the most essential things that you need to do is collect all of the evidence that you can for your claim.
This can include:
- Medical reports of any injuries
- Police reports
- Photographs of the accident site and damage to your vehicle
- Witness testimonies
- Receipts for expenses that were incurred because of the car accident
- Evidence of lost wages
Negotiating the Settlement
If you’re not happy with the insurance company’s offer, you can create a demand letter to negotiate.
This will include your explanation of why the company’s offer for settlement is too low and why you deserve more compensation. You will need to go into great detail about the injuries you’ve incurred and the medical costs, the damage to your car, any calculated damages due to lost wages or other reasons, and why the other driver is responsible for them.
Once they’ve received your letter, they will submit a counteroffer. You can either accept the settlement or continue to negotiate. This can eventually result in taking your case to court for more compensation.
Potential Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Filing a claim by yourself is not easy. There are a lot of complexities to the process, and certain challenges may pop up that you will need to be prepared to deal with.
Insurance Company Tactics
Lowballing the Claim’s Value
Initially, the insurance company’s offer for settlement rarely reflects the actual compensation that you should be due. They do this because they tend to be able to get away with it when you don’t want to have to negotiate with them, or you’re too exhausted from dealing with your injuries and missing work to push back.
Taking Statements Out of Context
When talking to insurance adjusters, especially right after the accident, everything you say will be held against you. This is true for anything that you post about the accident online, as well. They will take every excuse to lessen your claim, even if it was just a minor, careless comment.
Shifting Blame to the Victim
Insurance companies will attempt to claim that you are at fault for the accident unless you prove otherwise with evidence that you’ve collected. If they believe that you are liable, they may reject your claim altogether, which will leave you with the option of trying to find more evidence to support your claim or taking the at-fault driver to court.
Legal and Procedural Hurdles
Understanding the statute of limitations in your state can be complex, and it can get in the way of your claim if the accident isn’t recent.
Cases of multiple parties or if it’s not obvious who is at fault can also require the knowledge and experience of a professional to be able to handle. In these situations with so many variables, it’s easy to be taken advantage of and not receive the compensation that you deserve.
The Value of Legal Counsel
The benefits of hiring a legal counsel far outweigh the initial costs of hiring one.
Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
Expertise In Investigating Accidents
Accident lawyers know exactly what to look for and do when it comes to investigating accidents. They put in the effort and resources to expertly:
- Collect evidence
- Analyze car accident reports
- Interview witnesses
- Consult experts like collision reconstructionists
- Compile everything to create a strong case
Access to Reliable Industry Experts
Industry experts can be necessary to accurately understand what or who caused a car accident, and the full extent of the damages that you’ve suffered. They can make a huge difference when it comes to having strong evidence to base your case on.
Accurate Damage Valuation
Accident lawyers are well-versed in what collision damages to take into account, how much these damages cost, and how to get the maximum compensation for them.
They will have knowledge of damages that are not typically thought of, like:
- Physically therapy and rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Missing out on promotions or other work benefits
- Reduced earning capacity in the future
- Disfigurement or disability
- Loss of consortium
- Transportation to doctor’s appointments
What damages you are legally able to receive will depend on your state laws.
Advocacy During Negotiations
One of the most important things that an accident lawyer can do for you is advocate for you on your behalf. They have experience negotiating with insurance companies and will not allow them to take advantage of you.
- Communicate on your behalf in writing, over the phone, and in person
- Assist you in preparing statements
- Prepare and file paperwork with the insurance company
- Present your case evidence and create a demand letter
- Advise you on settlement offers
- Advise you on when it may be necessary to go to court
When considering the cost, it’s important to weigh the price of hiring a professional with the value they can bring to receive maximum compensation. In most cases, the legal help is well worth it.
Many attorneys work with contingency fee agreements, in which they agree that the payment of their legal fees will be contingent upon the successful outcome of the case.
Consult With the Experts at Naqvi Injury Law
Filing a claim for a car accident by yourself requires a lot of effort, time, and headaches. Our team of expert lawyers at Naqvi Injury Law will take care of the entire process of filing your claim, from gathering evidence from the car accident to earning you the maximum payout that you deserve.
Naqvi Injury Law boasts the “top one percent” of attorneys recognized by The National Association of Distinguished Council. You can trust that we are committed to providing you with the very best support and outcome in your case.
Call or Schedule a Free Consultation today!