What really happens after a car accident between you, your insurance company, and the other driver’s insurance company? What are a personal injury claim and a settlement? These are tricky questions, and a car accident lawyer can help you navigate the complexity of the insurance industry and the legal world.
After a car accident in which you or another person experiences personal injury or property damage, it is likely one or both parties involved each has a policy in place designed to cover any losses (which could be physical, income-related, property-related, or emotional). As a car accident victim, you have the right to pursue compensation for these losses through either your insurance company or the court system.
Car accident settlement cases can be resolved in different ways. However, to get the best result, you’ll need to understand how a car accident settlement works. Most personal injury cases settle out of court. Settlement is less expensive for the insurance company, is a less risky option for the insurance company, and moves faster than a lawsuit for all parties involved.
Let’s explore why these statements hold true:
In Louisiana, motorists are required to carry liability coverage on any vehicle they own. A motorist’s car insurance policy must meet the minimum amount that is stated in the civil code RS 32:900. The insurer pays for personal injury and property damage up to the amount of coverage a motorist purchases.
As an example, imagine you have been in a car accident. You are injured, and your vehicle is damaged. You have now incurred costs toward your health care bills, perhaps a hospital bill, your vehicle repairs, and lost income due to the time you spent away from work during the accident and recovery process.
You have the contact information and insurance policy information of the other driver, who—for the sake of this example—caused the accident. Since Louisiana is an at-fault state; The person who caused the accident has legal liability for your losses, damages, pain, and suffering, and their insurance company is responsible for this payment.
So, you file a claim with your own insurance company, which then contacts the other driver’s insurance company in order to recoup the money you are owed, including your deductible. This process is called “subrogation,” and successful subrogation results in a refund for both you and your insurance company. The types of damages you can claim are listed under the Louisiana civil code RS 32:866.
Usually, a Car Accident Settlement Process Goes Through the Following Steps:
The first step is filing your insurance claim. You should file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. This is known as a third-party insurance claim.
Before filing a claim, you must establish who or what caused your car accident. If you find the accident happened due to another driver’s negligence, you’re required to contact the negligent driver’s insurance company to file a claim.
If the driver doesn’t have insurance, you must make a claim with your own insurance carrier. In this case, consider filing claims with your insurer for financial benefits, including medical bills, additional coverage, and potentially underinsured motorist coverage.
After you file your personal injury claim, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will begin investigating the accident. An insurance claims adjuster conducts the investigation.
The insurance adjuster will review thoroughly every piece of evidence that you’ve provided with your claim letter. This might include official police reports, photographs of the accident scene, statements from witnesses, medical records, statements from all drivers involved, video footage from the accident location, and recordings.
After completing the investigation your claim will get either accepted or rejected by the insurance company. The insurer will provide an approval or denial letter.
If your claim is approved, it means the insurance company agrees to provide compensation for your damages. However, it doesn’t mean the insurer agrees to provide you with the amount of compensation that you deserve.
If your claim is rejected, then you have to appeal. Usually, an insurer denies a compensation claim if they find your accident doesn’t align with their policy or there are errors in the claim. You will be provided with an explanation letter regarding why your claim isn’t accepted.
In both cases, you should consult with a car accident lawyer. The attorney will find and sort out the problems with your claim, ensuring that you receive the compensation to which you’re entitled.
But what if the amount of money the at-fault driver’s insurance company offers is much lower than you expect, or your claim is denied? The other insurance company is almost always going to offer you less than you rightly deserve.
Often, an insurance company will choose to pay you, the injured party, an agreed-upon amount of money, called a “settlement,” if, in exchange, you agree to not pursue a lawsuit in court. That might mean you agree not to sue for reimbursement of any additional damages—which could turn out to be a regrettable decision if your injuries are long-lasting or grow worse in the months after the accident.
What this means is that you should not accept a settlement offer without first consulting with an attorney. An attorney will assist you in preparing and submitting all documents with more detail to strengthen your claim and demand.
Most car accident claims are settled without a court trial. If your claim is settled without a lawsuit that would be best for you, as you won’t have to go through a long procedure and you’ll be compensated sooner. But you must consult with your lawyer before going for an agreement. Your lawyer can help you decide whether you should accept it or not.
If you feel your claim was wrongly denied or you were inadequately compensated, you can still take action! You have the legal right to reject a settlement and to demand the true amount of compensation you deserve. With the help of an attorney, you may also resolve a claims dispute or take your case to court by filing a lawsuit.
First, you should not agree to the settlement amount you were offered. Do not cash any insurance checks. Your next step is to reach out to a well-established, reputable attorney in your area to represent you and to guide the settlement negotiations.
If you are in New Orleans or Louisiana, reach out to the attorneys at Breaux Law Firm, who provide personalized care and have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in reimbursement for clients. If you try to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company on your own, you will be at an extreme disadvantage.
The amount of money you demand from the settlement will be determined by you and your lawyer, and it is likely that there will be many negotiations and “final offers” before both parties agree on an amount.
Keep in mind that this is one of the important reasons to work with an established personal injury lawyer, who knows the ins and outs of the court system in your area, as well as how personal injury claims are valued and how much compensation you should ask for.
A settlement is an approach that saves the insurance company a lot of money because hiring lawyers to defend the case in court can be expensive! It can also be beneficial to you, the injured victim, because waiting for the court system to resolve your case can take months or even years.
With the added complication of the Covid-19 pandemic, many courts around the country suspended all proceedings, adding an unexpected additional period of waiting for many victims seeking compensation through a trial. But you want to make sure you are compensated fully for your damages, and working with a personal injury attorney is the best way to do so.
Rather than reaching a settlement, you may choose to take your case to trial. In that situation, the case will be resolved by a jury or judge. However, by taking your case to trial, you are undertaking a huge risk: if you lose the case, you get nothing.
Settlement is a compromise between you and the person responsible for your injuries, property damages, wage loss, and emotional harm, but it’s also a sure thing; by working with an experienced personal injury attorney to reach a suitable settlement, you can be confident that those damages will indeed be paid.
While insurance companies may employ a lot of good, ethical people, the company itself is not interested in paying you fairly. As a business, the other insurance company is solely interested in paying you as little as possible, despite the fact that they insure the person who caused your accident. You will have to fight for fair compensation.
You will have to reject measly settlement offers that leave you paying out of your own pocket for medical bills, long-term health complications, ongoing loss of wages, and the emotional aftereffects of a car accident. But you do not have to do all of this on your own; by hiring a personal injury attorney, you have someone who is fighting for you the whole time.
At Breaux Law Firm, we care for you and fight for you as if you are one of our own family members. Our experienced attorneys will make sure you’re fairly compensated for your medical bills, property damage, and emotional damages.
A personal injury attorney will offer you a free assessment of your case and will be able to determine if you were offered an inadequate settlement.
You do not pay for the attorney’s fees. Instead, your attorney is paid a percentage of the amount you win in your settlement. Contact the personal injury team at Breaux Law Firm to get started with a free consultation today.