Many people who were injured in a car accident don’t know that they are entitled to compensation for the damage, injuries, and other costs associated with it. The process can be difficult to navigate on your own. A lot of times insurance companies will try to get you to agree to a substantially smaller amount than you are entitled to. For that reason, it is a great idea to hire a lawyer that will make sure you get the most money possible.
The amount of funds you will receive depends on many factors including: the severity of your injuries, damage costs, who was more at fault, and medical expenses. If you are the person at fault, then your insurance rates may climb accordingly. Because of this it is important that you know what steps you should take if you get into this situation.
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At the scene of the accident, you must file a police report, take photos of the damage to both vehicles, as well as exchange insurance and contact information at the scene of the accident. If you want to file a claim with an insurance company then all of this information will be required. You must report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. If you are badly injured this can be difficult because in that case your main priority is to seek medical attention. Many times, you can run into difficulties when filing a claim with insurance companies. This can happen because you don’t have all the required information that is needed.
It is very important that it is determined who was at fault.
If you have everything you need then the best step you can take is to hire a lawyer to help you with your claim. You must obtain a sufficient amount of medical records associated with your injuries. Many lawyers will ask that you continue to get medical help and rehab until you are in recovery. For many claims, it is fair to ask for at least one to two times the amount of financial losses that have been incurred. If you have a more serious injury, then you should try to get four to five times this amount. If you want to get the maximum amount possible for your loss, then you should hire a lawyer.
Steps to getting compensation for the accident:
1) Find out who is at fault.
2) Send a notification to the at fault party and their insurance company.
3) Gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim.
4) Send a settlement demand letter indicating how much money you expect to receive.
5) Negotiate your settlement amount.
6) Sign the settlement release agreement.
When you are determining who is at fault as well as how much fault each person will take, it depends on which state you are in. If you get in an accident in Washington state for example, you are subject to the local laws in that state. If both parties are at fault, then the amount of compensation you will get depends on the percentage of fault you are responsible for. If the court determines that you are say 80% at fault, then you will be responsible for that percentage of the collision; you are however entitled to getting 20% of the compensation that is possible in this case. This is called Contributory Fault.
If you are trying to get compensation for your personal injuries in the accident, these are called “non-economic damages”. You may also be entitled to economic damages which include loss of income, medical expenses, other monetary losses, as well as the cost of repairs on your vehicle.
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If you get rear ended in Washington, then the other person is generally the person who is at fault. This might not be the case if you are able to prove that the other person was following you too closely. The minimum amount of insurance that is required in the state is liability insurance. Liability insurance includes: $25,000 for injuries of one person, $50,000 for injuries of two or more people, and $10,000 for destruction of property.
The best thing you could do though is get full coverage insurance so you know that if you get in an accident, then you will be completely covered. Many policies also include Uninsured Motorist coverage, which covers you in the event that the other party does not have auto insurance.
If you want to make a claim for your accident, then it is best to start on everything as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less of a chance you have of receiving the compensation that you could be entitled to. The amount of time you must file varies from state to state; but in Washington, you have three years from the date of the accident to present your case. As stated previously, it is always best to hire a personal injury attorney so that you get the best-case scenario out of your case.
Once you have determined who is at fault for the accident then you will send them and their insurance company an injury claim notification. This will give them formal notice that you were injured in the accident and that you are planning on pursuing compensation for your losses. You will not be able to negotiate to receive compensation until you are fully treated for your injuries.
Next you will gather all the information you need to present the insurance company with the claim. This includes medical records, vehicle repair records, photos, proof of economic losses, and any other relevant evidence related to the accident. The more proof you have the better chance you will have at getting the most compensation possible.
Once you have gathered all the required information for your case, you will then proceed to send the other party a Settlement Demand letter. This letter opens a discussion between you and the other party involved in the accident. The letter will include your side of the story, the amount that you’ve incurred in bills, and the total settlement amount that you are requesting. If you can resolve the dispute during mediation, then you will hopefully be able to avoid the expense of having to go to court. In mediation you are able to informally resolve your dispute with the help of a third party. Your demand letter will help resolve your case if the other party is willing to cooperate.
When you are ready to negotiate the settlement amount, you should be ready to deal with the insurance companies. Many insurance companies will offer you substantially less than you are entitled to because they lose money when they have to pay for damages. Do not just accept any unreasonable offer that they give you; you will be able to negotiate the amount. It is important to know how much the damage to your vehicle has cost you. Make sure you come up with an amount that you feel is fair for a settlement. After that, you need to calculate all other damages and economic losses associated with the accident. Once you have considered all of these losses incurred you will then have the minimum amount of money that you will be able to settle with.
Sometimes you will have to go to small claims court if you cannot come to an agreement with the other party and their insurance company. As stated earlier, it is always best to use an attorney during the whole process so you know that you will be taken care of. It gets very difficult when you decide to do everything yourself and represent yourself in court. When you are in court you will present all of the evidence that you have obtained during your due diligence. If you do end up winning your case then don’t expect to walk out with a check in time; you will generally be given a judgement against the party that you sued. Generally, once you receive the judgement then their insurance company will likely send you your settlement within a few weeks. If they do not, then you will have to enforce your judgement on the other party. They will have to pay you either through wage garnishment, accepting a payment plan, or through the court placing a lien on their property.
Be aware that there is a limit to the amount you can receive in small claims court, which varies from state to state. For example, in Washington the limit in small claims court is only $5,000. Before you go to small claims court make sure that you have first exhausted any other possibility of receiving a settlement which includes finding any available insurance coverage and aggressively negotiating with the insurance company. Make sure that you file your claim with small claims court before the statute of limitations runs out in your state.
If you do end up losing your case, then you will be able to file to appeal it. You will likely have to use an attorney for your appeal because they have strict rules. Usually, the cost of appeal is not worth it when it comes to small claims court.
This blog does not completely cover all the details required in the process and paperwork that is required during the process of attempting to get a settlement from the other party. If you decide to represent yourself in the matter, then it is very important that you do extensive research about what it will take to win your case. At Jackman Law Firm we are more than happy to assist you in any of your injury claims. We will not charge you to work on your case unless we win so there is really nothing to lose, and you will have peace of mind in knowing that you will receive the settlement amount that you deserve.