You may be asking yourself, how to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer? Here’s the deal. You don’t always need a lawyer to file a claim after an accident occurs. But the majority of lawyers won’t tell you this.
Almost every day, car accidents happen in the US. An average of 6 million accidents happen every year and within these occurrences, 3 million persons are injured.
And when this happens, the next thing to do is to try and settle your car accident claim with the insurance company so you can focus on recovery. You are expected to receive compensation as your settlement and this usually covers your physical, financial and emotional suffering.
So in this article, you will learn how to settle car accident claims without a lawyer. So stay with me while we show you how to handle any issue regarding your claim with the insurance company whenever you find yourself in such a situation.
See also: What is the average settlement for a car accident with injury for big winners?
Evaluate The Extent of Your Damage
Once you are involved in an accident, check if you have sustained any injuries on your body or feel pain in any part of your body. Once this is sorted, you can go ahead to evaluate the extent of damage to your car. This is a necessary step you must take so you can know the extent of damage you have suffered before working towards a settlement.
This evaluation goes beyond just the physical damages or other injuries you might have suffered to the emotional and psychological trauma of being in an accident. You will have to include medical expenses, the cost of car repair, and even income you have lost due to your inability to work as a result of the accident.
Most times, calculating the exact damage is difficult so it is okay to include future expenses in the settlement if the injury will hinder you from doing your regular work for years.
The essence of this is to enable you to get as much settlement as possible. There’s no harm in over-demanding your settlement, after all, there is room for negotiation by the insurance company. And these insurance companies will like to negotiate a lower amount of settlement.
Below are some of the common mistakes accident victims make when they don’t involve a lawyer to settle their car accident claim so do your best to avoid these mistakes.
Mistakes Accident Victims Make Without a Lawyer
1. Settlement Demands Is Too Much or Too Small
You should be realistic with your demand. Do not ask for too little as you might end up settling for less than what you deserve. On the other hand, demanding too much settlement puts you at risk. You may be wondering how.
Let’s take for instance you demanded $5 million as a settlement for your case and your state says for accident cases like yours, the maximum settlement is $4 million. That means you have succeeded in telling the insurance company indirectly that you don’t know the value of your claim.
And there’s a good chance that you may leave a good amount of money on the table after the settlement. So you need to understand how claims are valued in your state so you don’t end up victimizing your chance at a better settlement offer.
2. Taking The Insurance Company’s Final Offer
When you settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, you may tend to fall for “this is the final offer” by the insurance company. When the insurance company tells you this, always know that there is still enough room for negotiation. There will always be many final offers ahead so don’t get intimidated and accept whatever they put forward.
3. Settling The Car Accident Case Without Knowing The Scope of The Injury Sustained
If in the accident, you have been injured, avoid the temptation of asking for settlement too early. This is usually seen when individuals try to settle car accident claims without a lawyer. It is recommended that you wait till you are examined and treated so you can know how much the medical bills cost.
When you don’t have this information and move quickly with settling your claim, there’s a little chance you will receive a fair value as the insurance company may end u paying you less as compared to what you actually spent on your medical bills.
4. Assuming That The Insurance Company Will Stand Behind Its Admission of Liability
When an accident occurs, the insurance company will tell you that they will take responsibility and most individuals especially those who try to settle their car accident claims without a lawyer fall for this and relax their guard. Forgetting the insurance company can wake up one morning and change their stand.
So after an accident happened, you need to document your witnesses and other facts that can help in the settlement as if you will proceed to trial even after the insurance company has said they will take care of you.
5. Falling for The Notion That The Insurance Company Is Trying To Be Fair
Everybody protects the interest of the organization they work for and so are insurance adjusters. So keep that in mind when settling your claim. By now you should understand that the insurance company will like to pay as little compensation as possible so you need to negotiate your way up for a better settlement.
However, there are times you may be shocked by the low amount these insurance companies are willing to pay as compensation. Faced with such a situation, there are appropriate ways to conduct yourself while still having your goal of better settlement in mind. Let’s take a look at some of them.
How Do You Respond To a Low Settlement Offer?
Sometimes the hardest part is not to prove that the other party is responsible for the accident but the low settlement offer by the insurance company that does not match the cost that has piled up.
And if you don’t have your emotions in check, you could flare up. But one good thing about the entire settlement process is that you don’t have to accept that low offer. Below are the steps to follow:
i. Remain Calm and Polite
It may be difficult to remain calm or polite in this situation but that’s the best thing to do as you negotiate with the insurance claims adjuster.
Yelling or insulting them will not automatically increase the claim rather it won’t favor you and may lower your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
ii. Ask Questions
It’s your right to know why they undervalued your claim. Ask as many questions as are necessary and it is their duty to answer you. Whether it’s through email or phone conversation, be direct with your questions. It is only through their answer that you will know their reason and then come up with an appropriate counteroffer.
iii. Provide All The Facts
Here, you should provide every document that’s needed if you haven’t. Your medical bills, lost income, injuries, etc to support your claim.
When you have your paperwork fully complete, it will make it hard for the insurance company to come up with low compensation.
iv. Develop a Counter Offer
With your complete paperwork and understanding of the reason you were given a lower compensation, you can now write a counteroffer that details what you truly deserve.
Don’t be afraid to write as many counter letters as possible so long as their offer is below what you can accept for the damages caused. If the parties involved do not come to an agreement then it’s probably the right time to head to court.
Should I Get a Lawyer for A Car Accident Instead?
You may not like the idea of getting a lawyer to settle your car accident claim because you feel you know what to do, but do not become overconfident as there are situations that you cannot handle alone without an expert that has experience in handling such cases.
For instance, when you have been in a major accident involving a truck, a drunk driver, accidents with medical bills in excess, accidents leading to death, etc then you need the services of a good lawyer.
This is because a lawyer can relieve you of the burden of negotiating with the insurance company while you recover from the injuries or trauma resulting from the accident. And they will ensure you have a higher settlement claim that you deserve than when you do it yourself.
In this article, we have been able to explain how to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer. You should understand that in minor cases you can handle it yourself but never go overboard by trying to handle the major cases yourself.
This is because there is a reason why the lawyers are there and you should tap from their wealth of knowledge in such situations. After all, what really matters at the end of the day is the amount of compensation you could get.