There are two ways to pursue a settlement after a car accident. One is with an attorney and the other is without one. It is important to know how to get money from a car accident without a lawyer when the circumstances allow it. Otherwise, any settlement obtained might be significantly lower than it could have been with an experienced attorney’s assistance.
When to Consider Self-Representation
Some accidents have very clear causes that make it much easier to prove fault. The extent of injuries suffered is relatively minor. And the damage to the vehicles is relatively light. If video footage or witnesses affirm which driver caused an accident, it is much easier to proceed without a car accident lawyer.
The type of accident, the extent of injuries and damages, and the availability of insurance coverage affect whether self-representation is a good idea. The availability of compelling evidence that affirms which driver caused the accident and is liable for damages is also a factor.
Any injury accident in Illinois should have an accompanying police report. That report should be based on facts gathered at the scene and include statements by both parties. The report also should indicate if either or both drivers were ticketed and the general circumstances of the accident.
Police reports are not always factual and might contain false information, so it is important for victims of accidents to obtain a copy of the police report and have it corrected if needed. If the report concludes that the other driver was ticketed for a traffic offense and caused the accident, that could help greatly with self-representation.
There might be virtually no opposition from the offending driver’s insurer. That person’s auto insurance might cover the full costs of injuries and damages suffered. If there are no real disputes over fault and the insurance is sufficient to cover damages, self-representation could be a good idea.
How to File an Auto Insurance Claim
Accident victims who were driving must notify their respective auto insurers as soon as possible following an accident. Anyone who intends to file an insurance claim or who has to file one should contact the insurer within 24 hours of the accident.
The sooner the insurer is notified, the more credible the driver is regarding any claims filed. The only real delay should be to obtain medical treatment in an emergency room. The initial notification does not require full claims filing at that moment. However, the insurer likely will ask about the circumstances and whether medical attention was required.
There are four key elements to filing any claims caused by an accident. It is important to show that:
- The other driver drove in a negligent manner.
- Negligence caused the accident.
- The accident caused harm.
- The harm resulted in economic damages.
There might be ample evidence that proves the offending driver negligently operated a vehicle and caused the accident. If not, the victimized motorist needs to search for evidence.
Damage to the vehicles and any diagnosed injuries prove that the accident caused harm. And any medical diagnosis and bills are just the start of showing the harm resulting in economic damages.
When the accident victim has evidence of those four elements of liability, it is time to file a full insurance claim.
Demand Letter Outlines Information for an Insurance Claim
Filing an insurance claim includes filing for damages. Doing that requires a thorough listing of all costs incurred and providing proof of any injuries and property damage. It also required compiling a demand letter that details the damages and the claims for which a settlement is needed.
An insurance adjuster should have viewed the vehicle and taken a picture of the damage. If repairs will return the vehicle to its previous condition, estimates from auto body repair shops and auto repair shops will help the insurer to know the cost of vehicular damages. Any other property that might have been damaged in the accident also could be listed.
Medical diagnoses and bills for medical treatment will give the insurer a good idea of the extent of injuries and medical costs. Many have standardized payment amounts for particular injuries in addition to medical costs. Insurers generally have 30 days to respond to insurance claims filings by either paying them or denying them.
Estimating Damages After a Car Accident
There are two types of damages that are estimated for insurance claims settlements. One is for damages that could be calculated exactly. Those include vehicle repair costs, medical bills, and lost wages from missing work. Damages that can be calculated exactly are referred to as “special damages.”
The other type of damages does not have an exact calculation and is categorized as “general damages.” Pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and punitive damages are examples of general damages. They can greatly increase a potential payout – especially punitive damages, which often are equal to three times the initial settlement.
General damage claims must have supporting evidence. Someone who is self-representing likely would not have the financial resources to hire a professional to perform a crash reconstruction. However, an insurance claims adjuster representing the respective auto insurers will depose both parties and could produce evidence regarding likely fault.
Countering and Accepting a Car Accident Settlement
Those who know how to get money from a car accident without a lawyer are aware that insurance settlement offers can vary greatly for seemingly similar accidents. The opposing driver’s insurer is hoping to get out of the case with as little financial damage as possible. That could lead to a lowball offer that undervalues damages suffered.
An initial insurance offer typically is one that the insurer hopes gets accepted. There likely are others available, too. It can help a victim’s case to negotiate settlement offers with counteroffers. Eventually, both parties likely would reach an agreed amount that concludes the insurance settlement and closes the claim. This process is typically more effective with an accident attorney.
It is very important to ensure there are no potential surprises, such as a potential medical complication, that might arise and trigger significantly higher costs in the near future. Once the insurance settlement is accepted, the matter is concluded. It would not be possible to file a subsequent claim if other damages and costs were to arise from the initial accident.
Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
The more that an accident affects the personal life of the victim, the more that person should consider legal representation. If an accident victim suffered extensive injuries and missed work for an extended period, the financial damages could be significant. A car accident lawyer can handle all communications while building a strong case.
Someone who suffers an accident while traveling in a taxicab or when using a rideshare service likely would need representation. A free consultation could help an accident victim to know how an Uber accident attorney can help victims recover from damages suffered due to rideshare accidents.
An accident might cause the victim to suffer a catastrophic injury or a permanent disability. These injuries would make the level of damages much greater than a simple fender-bender.