Negotiating a car accident settlement is a complex process. Shining a light on the process early on can help alleviate any anxiety for those wondering how they negotiate a car accident settlement in Atlanta, Georgia.
The strongest cases present compelling evidence and keep things simple. Some lawyers advise clients to wait until their injuries have healed to a manageable extent, as settling too soon can result in the plaintiff not receiving the full compensation they may be entitled to.
Georgia Motor Vehicles and Traffic Code § 40-6-273 says authorities must be called for any accident involving injuries. If you don’t call the police after your car accident, the other side may use this as proof that you were not injured.
Building Your Settlement Plan
Much of what you do later will depend on decisions made by insurance agents or a court of law. Write out your experiences leading up to and after an accident in a journal, as putting this down can help ease your mind and accounts for expenses that occur as a direct result of the accident, including:
- Hospital bills
- Therapy invoices
- Transportation receipts
- Missed wages
- Lost income potential
- Pain and suffering
Covering economic expenses like hospital bills can be straightforward, but non-economic damages like pain and suffering are more subjective and difficult to determine. A lawyer may be able to help you understand what your local courts can view as legitimate forms of pain and suffering.
Evidence is Key
Gathering evidence is a potentially time-sensitive matter. Evidence such as tire skid marks and broken glass can disappear through normal use of a roadway.
Many auto collision settlements boil down to one person’s word against another. Any evidence found at an accident scene can go a long way to helping your case later on.
Visiting the Doctor
Visiting the doctor is another prudent step that should occur as soon as possible, otherwise the other side could argue that your injuries occurred after the accident. Self-diagnosis is also a risky option, and is not recommended. For instance, brain damage as a result of whiplash can alter judgment, potentially causing a misdiagnosis. Avoiding the doctor after your car accident can affect your ability to receive the compensation you may be entitled to.
Ensure that your medical records are accurate during this process. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to ask for a waiver to independently check your medical records. You are not obligated to sign such a release, and doing so may hurt your settlement chances.
Filing an Insurance Claim
File a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault party. If you did not get the other party’s insurance information, consider filing a claim for your own uninsured motorist coverage.
Insurance company agents have a job to keep their employer in business, even if this means implying that they have more authority than they legally do. You are not obligated to provide them with a recorded statement over the phone if asked.
Insurance agents may try to minimize the amount their company pays out to you. Anything you tell them can be used against you in court, so try not to understate your current injuries if you choose to discuss things with an insurance company without a lawyer present.
For a free legal consultation, call (404) 888-8888
Assessing the Insurance Company’s Final Offer
A lawyer can help you look at local case law and see if there is a history of similar scenarios to yours, that way you know how those cases were handled by your local courts. Context like this can help you understand how your case may be viewed by a jury of your peers.
A lawyer can also help you understand whether an insurance company’s settlement offer is an acceptable representation of the compensation you may be entitled to, or if you stand to gain by taking them to court.
The insurance defense team may try to collect evidence about your medical history and find any previous conditions that could explain your symptoms or injuries. If you find that anything needs clarification in your medical records, the earlier you can do that the better.
If there are any witnesses who could support your case, it is important to get their testimony, as witness accounts may be a factor in settlement negotiations.
Only a few car accident cases go to trial, and most cases are settled out of court in arbitration. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported in 1995 that three-quarters of all personal injury cases, the majority of which related to motor vehicles, were disposed through a settlement. If you are wondering how you negotiate a car accident settlement or have more questions about your other potential legal options, call the team from Bader Scott Injury Lawyers at (404) 888-8888 for a free consultation.