How To Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer – Regardless of attorney representation, most car accident cases settle through negotiations before a suit is filed, let alone getting to the trial phase.
If you were involved in a minor car accident, you may be able to successfully handle your case without a car accident lawyer. In this article, we will be discussing how to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer.
However, to represent themselves, accident victims should conduct in-depth research and get advice on the best way to proceed with their auto accident claims. Mostly, we are talking about no-injury and minor-injury cases involving subjective injuries that resolve within a few months. Claims where the injuries are not substantial and the medical treatment is insignificant are ripe for settlement without an attorney.
How To Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer
If you’re like most people, you’re likely wondering if hiring a car accident attorney is necessary. Here’s how to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, so you can make the best decision for your needs and your finances.
Steps To Follow: Settling Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer
If you want to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, here are the steps you would need to take:
Determine The Extent of Your damages.
Before you can start working towards a settlement, you need to make sure you have a clear idea of the damages you suffered. This goes beyond the physical damage done to your vehicle and any injuries you suffered. Total up the expenses you’ve incurred since your accident happened. Include everything from your car repairs and medical expenses to income lost from missing work.
You may also be able to add future expenses to your total list of damages. For example, if your injuries prevent you from working in your regular job for several years, make a note of it. You may be able to add those future lost wages to your total damages. Keep in mind that calculating the exact total of your damages can be difficult.
You need to think about every possible expense you could have so you can get the largest settlement possible. There’s no harm in overdemanding at first, as long as you’re prepared to negotiate the settlement amount.
Identify The Parties Responsible for Harming You.
Typically, if you were not at fault for the car accident, you’ll be dealing exclusively with the other driver’s insurance company. However, there are exceptions to this. If, say, you got into an accident with an Uber driver who was “on duty” and with a passenger in the car, Uber may be held liable for the damages incurred. This, too, may require a consultation with an expert or your insurance company to determine.
Speak To The Insurance adjuster.
Before you can start working towards a settlement, you need to speak with the insurance adjuster to find out what they’re willing to cover after you file your claim. They’ll look at the damage done to your car and any medical expenses you have related to the accident. They’ll use this information to calculate a payment amount that’s fair in their eyes. It’s rare for those payments to be enough right from the beginning.
You’ll need to negotiate with the insurance provider to get the most out of your settlement. Anytime you’re speaking with the insurance company, put your emotions on the back burner. You need to be calm, cool and collected when you speak with them so you can better pay attention to what they say and identify any problems with their stance as they arise.
Gather Your Evidence.
You will need evidence, such as witness testimony or supporting documents, to make a successful claim. If there is no evidence of your injuries to prove your pain and suffering, the insurance company or the court will assume that you did not suffer such damages and don’t deserve compensation. If you’re having a hard time obtaining evidence for your case, you should consider getting help from a lawyer.
The more evidence you have, the more likely it is that an insurer will accept your claim and accept your estimate of the extent of the damages you have endured.
Write a Demand letter.
Once you know how strong your case is as well as how substantial your losses are, you can write a demand letter to the insurer representing the driver who harmed you. Your demand letter should detail:
. The facts of the case
. The expenses you’ve incurred
. Your path to recovery
. A request for a reasonable amount of compensation
Sending a demand letter allows you to open negotiations on your terms rather than starting with the amount the insurer offers.
Carefully Review a Settlement offer.
In some cases, if it’s proven that you were not at fault for the accident, the other driver’s insurance company may offer you a settlement.
What Is a Settlement?
A settlement is a lump sum that, if you agree to it, means you can’t file future claims for the losses you have encountered. In other words, if you agree to the car accident settlement you were offered, you cannot go back to the insurance company and request additional compensation for being unable to work longer than you thought or requiring more medical attention.
In this case, you have three options:
. Accept the offer, knowing full well that you cannot request further compensation.
. Negotiate the car accident settlement and counter it with a higher number.
. Decline the settlement offer. If this occurs, the case may have to go to court. If so, please keep in mind that the court process can be exceedingly complicated, and proving yourself in front of the law may be exceptionally challenging, particularly if you choose to advocate for yourself rather than work with a lawyer.
Take Action Within a Reasonable Period After the Accident.
Finally, if you are trying to negotiate your settlement, you must be sure you know the statute of limitations. This is the time limit applied to injury claims. Depending on where you live, it is usually between two and four years.
If you do not file a claim against the at-fault parties by the time the statute of limitations runs out, your claim will be time-barred. You will not be allowed to make your case at all going forward if this happens. So don’t delay too long in reaching a settlement agreement or filing a lawsuit.
Await The Judge’s Verdict and Accept the Settlement
After hearing your case, the judge will decide how much of a settlement you deserve. If you represent yourself well, that amount will be higher than what the insurance company initially offered. However, if you weren’t able to make a solid case, the judge may declare that the insurance company’s original settlement was enough. Once you accept the settlement, you’ll be able to close out your car accident claim and move on with your life.
Understand That Representing Yourself Isn’t Always the Best.
While it is possible to represent yourself in court and settle a car accident claim without hiring a car accident lawyer, it’s not the best idea. Attorneys have extensive experience helping clients get the money they deserve. Even better, they can streamline the settlement process, so you get your money more quickly. If you do end up going to court, they’ll be able to mount your case and argue on your behalf against the insurance company’s experienced legal team.
Mistakes Accident Victims Make Without a Lawyer
Below are some common mistakes victims make in handling their accident claim without a lawyer that hurt the settlement and trial value of their claim:
You Gave (Or Will Give) a Recorded Statement
Most insurance claims adjusters tell victims that they need a recorded statement before making a settlement offer. Nonsense. Insurance adjusters use anything you say to knock down your settlement offer, or they pass along the information to the insurance company’s lawyers to use as cross-examination fodder against you at trial.
Taking The Insurance Company’s “Final” Offer
Insurance companies often directly or indirectly present their proposal as final offer. People representing themselves have no psychological leverage to push for a higher offer because the threat to sue—at least not in a serious case—is hollow without the means to do it. Many victims take the first offer and leave their money on the table. In our business, there is a final offer, and then there is a final, final, final offer. Always keep asking for more money.
Not Including All of Your Damages from The Crash.
Your damages are all of your medical bills, not just how much you owe or how much was paid by PIP or other no-fault insurance. Your damages are all of your lost wages, not just the money you lost out of pocket. What about your travel time to and from appointments? Make sure you know what Maryland law prescribes for damages and claim every dollar.
Delaying And Ignoring Time Limits to File a Claim
There is no time limit or deadline for getting a lawyer after an accident. Just because you don’t get a lawyer to handle your accident case right away, you can always get one later. However, there is a time limit on filing claims related to the accident that you should be aware of. All states have a statute of limitations that imposes a strict deadline on how long you can wait before filing a claim. Under Maryland’s statute of limitations, you have to file your claims within 3 years after the accident.
Settling The Car Accident Case Without Knowing the Scope of The Injuries
If you have been seriously injured and are looking for a quick settlement, you are almost invariably going to get less than the value of your accident case. To give the insurance company a reason to make something approaching a reasonable offer, you need all of your medical bills and records and often a written analysis of your case from a doctor—either a treating doctor or an “independent” medical expert—as to the extent and scope of your injuries.
If you settle a case before you have all of the documentation you need for your claim, you have little chance of receiving fair value. Our law firm will not even consider taking a case if the client is trying to settle the case before her doctors understand the full scope of her injuries.
Risk Of Settling a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer
When you are injured in a car accident, the key question you should ask is not how to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer. Instead, you should ask whether it’s a good idea to do so. There are some big downsides to trying to resolve your claim without a lawyer.
Here are some of the potential risks:
. You could end up receiving less compensation than you deserve. Studies have shown that people with attorneys receive larger payouts from insurance companies than individuals who represent themselves.
. You could make a mistake that makes it impossible to recover compensation. For example, you have a limited period to make a car accident claim due to the statute of limitations. Waiting too long could result in your claim being time-barred.
. You could end up giving up your rights. If you sign a settlement agreement too soon before you know the extent of your damages, you can’t just change your mind later.
. You could miss out on important evidence. An attorney can help you find expert witnesses, obtain police reports, and gather medical records to make the strongest case possible. It’s difficult to do these things on your own.
If you’ve been in an accident, the first thought on your mind is likely how to save money. Now that you know how to settle a car accident claim without an attorney, you’re ready to start presenting your case.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Is the Settlement Amount Determined in a Car Accident Claim?
The settlement amount in a car accident claim is determined by:
. The severity of your injuries
. The cost of your medical bills
. Lost present and future income
. The extent of your pain and suffering
. The degree of the at-fault driver’s negligence
Can I File a Claim If the Statute of Limitations Has Expired?
Generally, you cannot file a claim if the statute of limitations has expired. Speak with a lawyer during a free case consultation to understand your timeframe for filing a claim or personal injury lawsuit.