Imagine that you were involved in a serious car accident with a distracted motorist a few weeks ago. Now you don’t know what to do. Your injuries are severe and don’t seem to be improving. Your tennis practice was a regular part of your workday, but your neck and back hurt more than you would like to admit. Even sitting for long periods at work is difficult.
You weren’t offered what you wanted by the other driver’s insurer, so you filed a personal injury suit. It’s been suggested that you settle out of court. But is this really the best solution for your case?
What does “Settlement” mean?
The goal of settling your case is to resolve your dispute without going to trial. Most cases, especially those involving car accidents, do not end in a civil trial. These cases often settle as all parties reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial. Why? A jury trial is not a guarantee of a positive outcome. Your settlement once accepted can be unpredictable.
What is a Demand letter?
You can request that your attorney draft a formal demand letter to the insurance company if you feel your injuries are being overlooked by the other party. You can use this document to describe the incident and to request a settlement amount without having to go to court. A well-written demand letter will help you to put the facts and issues in perspective. It will also provide you with any evidence that may be helpful, such as medical records or other pertinent information.
An experienced attorney might demand a higher payment than is actually expected to allow both parties to negotiate. Remember that your insurance company might require you to have an independent medical evaluation in order to support your injury claim.
After each side has had the opportunity to read and respond to the demand letter, the case could move on to the settlement negotiation phase. In order to reach an agreement, there will be back-and forth negotiations.
If the talks fall apart and you find yourself in an impasse you might be able to agree on mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Retired judges or licensed attorneys who can help each party reach a solution. If negotiations go well, you can put the case behind and collect from the insurance company or at-fault driver. Your case will go to court if you cannot reach a settlement.
For a car accident settlement, get professional help
What to do? While you are weighing the pros and cons to a car accident settlement you should also learn about the laws in your state so you can determine if you are giving up any rights during the settlement process. To help you decide your next steps, seek the advice of a qualified car accident lawyer near you.