Car Accidents

Auto Accident Settlement Process

If you were hurt in an auto accident, you’re probably focused on getting an insurance settlement. After all, Illinois requires drivers to pay for auto insurance for this very purpose. When someone causes you harm, their insurance should cover it. But the theory is simpler than reality. There are several steps in the insurance claim and settlement process, which is why you should work with an experienced Illinois car accident attorney.

Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. is here to help you get the most from an auto accident settlement. Send us your information through our online form or call (312) 236-2900. We offer free consultations.

Steps in the Auto Accident Settlement Process

File a Formal Insurance Claim

When you believe another driver is at fault for the auto accident, you have to file a claim with that driver’s insurance policy. This is called a third-party insurance claim. You can usually do this online or over the phone. Never hesitate to ask a lawyer for help in filing a formal insurance claim.

Cooperate with the Insurer’s Investigation

Once you file an insurance claim, the insurer is required to open up an investigation. They also have to conclude their investigation in a reasonable amount of time. They can’t ignore or needlessly delay your claim. During the insurer’s investigation, they’ll want to ask you some questions.

You should have a lawyer on your side before you give a statement or answer questions. Your lawyer will help you prepare for talking with an insurer. Preparation helps you avoid saying something the insurer can use against you. Your attorney also will protect you for an insurer trying to over-reach and get more information they should have.

For example, an insurer will ask you to sign a medical records authorization. This gives them access to your entire medical record, and it’s unnecessary. Your lawyer will make sure the insurance company gets the medical records they need and no more.

Perform an Independent Investigation

One of the most important reasons to hire a car accident lawyer is to benefit from an independent investigation. The insurer will look into your claim. But it doesn’t have your best interests in mind. An insurer will accept a claim only if they have to, and even then, it’ll want to pay out as little as possible.

A lawyer’s independent investigation gives you all the evidence you need to challenge an insurer’s incorrect conclusions and fight for maximum compensation.

Calculate Your Damages

Before your lawyer can go anywhere near settlement negotiations, they have to understand your damages. Your lawyer will work with you and your medical providers to add up your expenses. Any settlement you agree to in the future should cover all of your past and future expenses, including medical bills, transportation costs, lost wages, property repairs or replacements, and any other out-of-pocket expenses.

Determining a value for your non-economic damages is a different process. Your economic damages are objective. You can add them up. Your non-economic damages have to be translated into a monetary value. Your lawyers can do this in a few ways, including using a multiplier of your economic damages. They’ll research the outcomes of similar cases to decide an appropriate multiplier.

Another aspect of damages that your lawyer will consider is future expenses. Are you going to need more medical care? Do you have a disability that impacts how much you can earn? If your injuries are going to affect you after you’ve received a settlement, then your lawyer might hire one or more experts to estimate how much that will cost you in the years to come.

It’s important to understand your future expenses to make sure your settlement doesn’t fall short of what you need.

Send a Demand Letter

It can take weeks to get a full picture of your economic and non-economic injuries. But once your lawyers have a solid understanding of what the auto accident will cost you, they can send a demand to the at-fault driver and other liable parties.

Receive an Insurance Claim Approval or Denial

Once the insurer finishes its investigation, it will approve or deny your claim. If it approves your claim, your lawyer can start settlement negotiations. If it denies your insurance claim, then you have to appeal. You won’t receive a settlement offer or being able to negotiate a settlement until the insurer agrees its liable for paying your claim.

Review an Initial Settlement Offer

You might receive an initial settlement offer from the negligent party’s insurer after the demand. It’s important to talk with an attorney before accepting any offer or cashing a check. Most initial offers are lower than your claim is worth.

The only way to know if the offer is too low and how much more you can fight for is to consult an experienced attorney. If you get an insurance settlement offer, but you haven’t worked with an attorney yet, give us a call.

It might be that the initial offer is close to what you need from a settlement. Your lawyer might go back and forth with the insurance company to reach a fair amount. Then, you can settle without going to court.

File a Lawsuit

Most personal injury claims settle out of court. But you should still talk with an attorney about filing a lawsuit. Showing an insurance company that you’re willing to go to court gives you leverage to demand more from a settlement. It also allows you to investigate your case more through discovery.

Go Through the Discovery Process

Discovery is the longest phase of litigation. It’s the time when the parties exchange information through various legal tools.

Requests for Admissions: You can ask the other party to admit a fact or deny certain facts or to admit or deny the genuineness of a document. You’ll send the other party a list of statements or copies of certain documents. The other party has to admit or deny each statement or document.

The other party can also refuse to answer based on certain objections, like certain information is privileged or irrelevant. Requests for admissions can be used to establish the basic facts in your case, reducing the issues you’d need to argue at trial.

Interrogatories: Interrogatories are questions you want the other party to answer. The number of questions you can ask is limited, including any sub-questions.

The questions have to be relevant to the case and can’t create an unnecessary burden for the other party. The defendants have to either answer the questions or provide an objection.

Demands to Produce Documents or Objects: You can request that the other party give you copies or reproductions of documents or physical objects for you to inspect. This includes allowing you access to certain real estate to inspect the premises, take photos, or run tests.

After a car accident, we might demand the other party produce a copy of any relevant insurance claims, business records, or employment records.

Depositions: A deposition is an out-of-court interview of a person relevant to your case. There are two types of depositions: discovery vs. an evidence deposition.

A discovery deposition gives you the ability to learn more about your case. But an evidence deposition gives you testimony you can bring up during a trial.

Negotiate a Settlement During Mediation

Once you complete the discovery process, you can negotiate a settlement or prepare for trial. You or the other side might ask for mediation. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method. You and the other party will try to resolve your claim with the help of a neutral, third-party mediator.

The mediator doesn’t make any decisions. They’re only there to guide the conversation and help both sides communicate effectively.

Reach an Agreement or Prepare for Trial

In most auto accident cases, Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., reaches a settlement agreement with the defendant’s insurance company. We strive to get you the compensation you need as soon as possible. But a settlement isn’t always possible. When we can’t get you a fair settlement, we might recommend you move forward with a trial.

Do You Need a Car Accident Attorney?

No matter where you are in this process, it’s not too late to contact a lawyer. Whether you’re just getting started or have received an offer, we’re ready to get involved, investigate the accident, and tell you about the value of your claim. Our goal will be to get you the best settlement possible.

Call us today at (312) 236-2900 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers P.C.

Free Consultation
(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900