Steps to Settling Your Car Accident Claim
Following an auto accident, your biggest goal is getting your bills paid and to get back on your feet. You may hope that you can quickly file a claim online or over the phone with the other driver’s insurance to get compensation immediately. Insurances companies like to say it is an easy and seamless process — for them, at least.
For accident victims, the entire process can become stressful, time-consuming, and frustrating. An insurance adjuster may haggle with you over the details of your accident, make you jump through multiple hoops to get approval, and ultimately offer you a small settlement.
At Emerson Divorce and Accident Injury Attorneys, L.L.C., we have guided many clients through the claims process after serious accidents and understand first-hand how complicated insurance companies can make it. If you bring your claim to us, we can walk you through the steps of getting you proper compensation after a car accident.
Determining if You Have a Claim
Indiana is an at-fault state, meaning drivers who are found at-fault for an accident are responsible for providing compensation through their auto insurance. In order to recover compensation in a car accident claim, you must show that the driver who injured you was at least 50% at fault for the accident. This may seem obvious to you, but insurance companies like to shift the blame on victims and will use any doubt or lack of evidence against you.
An important part of this is the fact that Indiana is a comparative negligence state, which means that multiple parties can be found liable for an accident. If a victim is found more than 50% at fault for his or her own injuries, then he or she can be barred from filing a claim. Even if you are 50% or less at fault, a jury can limit the amount of compensation you receive based on the amount of fault applied to you. If you are awarded $10,000 by a jury but found 10% at fault for the accident, you will only receive $9,000.
Another factor to consider is the statute of limitations. In Indiana, adults have two years from the date of a car accident to file a claim. If the statute of limitations has passed, then you cannot receive compensation. For children, the statute of limitations is pushed back until two years from the day they turn 18, meaning they have until their 20th birthday to file a claim.
Investigating a Car Accident
If you are eligible for compensation, then an attorney can begin preparing your claim by investigating the accident. A thorough accident investigation is key to building a strong claim and ensuring that you get the most out of your claim. With enough evidence, you can prove that the other driver caused your injuries and pressure an insurance company to provide proper compensation. Even if the insurance company still fights or denies your claim, your attorney can still use that evidence in a personal injury trial to secure a verdict from a judge or jury.
Investigating a car accident will include a variety of factors. Your attorney may begin with reviewing a police report, going over your medical records, and looking through accident photos. They may also reach out to witnesses to get detailed statements, work to secure accident footage from social media, traffic cameras, or CCTV cameras, and speak with accident reconstructionists to recreate the circumstances of your injuries.
Calculating the Damages You Have Suffered
Once your attorney has gone over all the details of your case and believes you have enough evidence for a claim, the next step is determining what compensation you can recover.
For most victims, getting medical bills paid is the most important part of an accident claim, but you can recover other types of damages in a claim. These damages are divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages will cover all of the financial costs of your injuries, including your medical treatment, lost wages, and lost earning potential. Your attorney can calculate these damages by reviewing your medical bills, old pay stubs, and tax returns.
Non-economic damages are considered intangible, meaning there is not a clear financial value for your pain and suffering or mental anguish. Rather than adding up specific bills, your attorney may use certain legal formulas to come to a fair number for you to demand in a claim.
Negotiating With an Insurance Company
Upon completing an investigation and calculating the costs of your accident, your attorney can begin the process of filing the claim with the insurance company and negotiating for proper compensation. Settlement negotiations can take weeks to months of back and forth with an insurance adjuster. Your attorney will keep you up to date on any new offers or demands from the adjuster.
An adjuster may ask you to take an independent medical exam (IME) to evaluate your injuries, ask for a recorded statement, or request your medical records. You should let your attorney review all of these demands and advise you of the best approach. While you might assume the adjuster is playing fair, these requests are designed to help an insurance company’s lawyers prepare a case against you if it goes to trial.
Taking Your Case to Court
Nine out of 10 injury claims are settled out of court, but at least 10% result in a lawsuit against an insurance company. This can occur when insurance companies refuse to negotiate, fail to offer fair settlements, or because the statute of limitations is approaching. In any case, it is important to have an experienced trial attorney at your side through the claims process.
Personal injury trials may sound stressful, but our team at Emerson Divorce and Accident Injury Attorneys, L.L.C. has represented many clients in civil courts. We prepare every case as if it will go to trial and are comfortable presenting evidence before judges and juries. If your case does go to trial, we will advocate for the highest possible award on your behalf.
Let Us Guide You Through a Claim
Taking on a big insurance company on your own can be daunting, but you should never accept a low settlement offer without talking to an attorney first. At Emerson Divorce and Accident Injury Attorneys, L.L.C., we can use our years of experience to review your claim and explain how to get proper compensation for your injuries. Both of our founding attorneys are experienced trial attorneys and have been named Top 100 Civil Attorneys in Indiana multiple years in a row.
If you bring your claim to us, our Indianapolis personal injury attorneys can sit down with you in a free consultation and explain your options. There is no obligation to hire us, but we do work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no up-front fees to letting us represent you. We will handle all of the heavy lifting of filing your claim while you focus on recovering. We do not get paid unless we win your claim, and we will always fight for the highest possible award.
Call us today at (317) 969-8000 to get a free case evaluation.