You may hear many things about car accident lawsuits and settlements, but do you know how they work? If you don’t know how lawsuits and settlements play out after an accident, you may not get enough compensation to cover your injuries and damages.
Below is important information you can use to navigate your accident settlement, but talk to an automobile accident lawyer for more information today.
First, note that car accident victims often talk about a ‘settlement’ but it’s used in a different way by your automobile accident lawyer.
When you settle your car accident claim, you give up your right to a trial so that you get a lump sum payment. Once you have signed the settlement documents, you cannot change your mind.
Your attorney will usually try to get you a settlement before the lawsuit starts. You or the insurance firm will begin by asking for a settlement amount in a demand letter. Then, your attorney and the insurance company will negotiate and try to reach an amount that both sides agree to. There also could be a mediation process.
If negotiations falter, then you can take the case to trial. Both sides present their best case during the trial.
Second, it’s important to understand who is financially responsible for your injuries after the accident. Usually, the at-fault driver is responsible, but in Oregon, all drivers must have personal injury protection insurance. This means that if you’re in an accident, your PIP insurance will cover at least the first few thousand of your injuries and other damages.
If your damages are more than your PIP coverage, you can sue the other driver. Other entities that could be liable for the accident could include the car manufacturer, parts manufacturer, and even the other driver’s company if he or she was working when the accident occurred.
Third, it’s also common to not understand when you should settle your case. Every car accident is different so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. But some of the factors that influence this are:
- Your medical condition: Your lawyer may advise you to wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement or MMI before you settle the claim. This way, you are not asking for a settlement until you have gotten as much medical improvement as possible after the accident. But you may need money before you can wait for MMI, so your attorney will figure out what your medical treatments cost before they decide whether to wait for MMI.
- Case factors: Some car accident claims should go to trial but others shouldn’t. If your personal injury claim has a lot of problems, then you may want to go to a settlement right away. But, let’s say the other driver was drunk and you have severe injuries. Perhaps the insurance company isn’t offering as much as you like. Then you may want to go to trial.
- Your priorities: Some people with severe injuries may want to have their date in court, but others may not want to deal with a trial.
- The offer: Much depends on what the insurance company offers.
With this information, you may be able to better understand whether you should settle or go to trial.