Though no one wants to be involved in a car accident, thousands of accidents occur around the country every day. The vast majority of car accidents are fender benders or similarly minor incidents, but even when the accident is minor, the subsequent settlement may not be. For this reason, you need to be prepared to handle a car accident settlement and understand the process of seeing a settlement through to the end.
In this guide, we will explain the standard procedures of a car accident settlement and answer some of the most pressing questions, including: How do car accident settlements work? How much can you expect from a car accident settlement? And why is your car accident settlement taking so long?
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work?
After a car accident, there may be cause to settle the cost of damages, personal injuries, or even death. Pursuing a car accident settlement requires you to file a claim for damages. Generally speaking, a settlement ensures that you can come to an agreement with others involved in the accident — without the need to go to trial. This is how the vast majority of car accidents are resolved; the parties (and their auto respective insurance providers) agree on who must pay for damages, how much they must pay, and how to bring the matter to a close.
While this should give you a general overview of the process, it’s necessary to dig a little deeper. Here’s everything you will need to know about how car accident settlements work:
Making a Car Accident Report
When a car crash occurs, you’ll first want to ensure that no one involved has been seriously injured. If there are serious injuries, you should seek the aid of emergency medical services immediately. Subsequently, you need to make a car accident report. The most common way to do this is to contact the police and your insurance company to inform them of the accident.
In some states, you are required to contact the police after an accident, while in others, it is optional. However, it is generally a good idea to contact the local police department regardless of your location. This allows the police to come and survey the accident and make an official, written report to put on the record. During the auto accident settlement, this report can be used as an official document outlining the details of any damages or injuries.
Most insurance policies require you to report the accident to your provider, especially if there are other drivers involved. Your insurance provider will ask for details related to the accident and may even request photos. With this information, your provider can determine if the accident qualifies for full or partial coverage. This will also help your insurance company calculate how much — if any — car accident compensation you could receive during the settlement process.
At-Fault System vs. No-Fault System
Once you’ve reported an accident, the subsequent process for a car accident settlement will depend on the laws of the state in which the accident occurred. Most states use what is known as an “At-Fault System.” Within this kind of system, the person who is at fault for the damages is responsible for covering the costs.
If it is determined that you are at fault, you will need to consult with your insurance company to determine how much your insurance will cover. Depending on your level of coverage, you may have to pay for some or all of the damages out of pocket. Alternatively, if the other driver is at fault, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company, file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company, and — if necessary — file a lawsuit for damages. However, keep in mind that the other driver can also file a countersuit against you.
In a “No-Fault System,” you can collect car accident compensation regardless of who is at fault. Your insurance policy must pay for damages, medical costs, or even lost wages up to the limit that your policy allows. However, you cannot file a lawsuit against the other driver, nor can they file a lawsuit against you. As a result, it’s more difficult to reach a settlement in a No-Fault System, as there are very few legal pathways toward a car accident lawsuit.
Reaching a Settlement
Most car accident lawsuits are resolved through settlements. Since most people want to avoid the costs associated with going to trial, the objective of settlement negotiations is true drop the lawsuit in exchange for monetary compensation. Generally, one or both parties can make offers and counteroffers. Once an agreement is reached, the matter is settled.
Though it’s not required, it’s always a good idea to hire a car accident lawyer for settlement negotiations. More often than not, attorneys represent both parties and handle all (or most) of the communication. Hiring an attorney increases your chances of getting a fair deal and avoiding trial.
It’s also important to note the role that car insurance providers play in the settlement process. Frequently, lawsuits are required because one or both drivers do not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay for all of the damages. When this happens, you have little choice but to file a lawsuit and pursue an out-of-court settlement.
How Much To Expect From A Car Accident Settlement
Determining how much you will receive from a car accident settlement is a very complicated process. The precise compensation amount will depend on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- Personal injuries
- Property damage
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Auto damage
The presence or severity of any of the aforementioned factors can greatly impact your final settlement amount. Additionally, the degree to which the other party is willing to reach a fair settlement is also a very important factor. Figuring out how much to settle for is not an exact science, so typical car accident settlement amounts can vary widely. That said, on average, most car accident settlements fall somewhere between $15,000 and $30,000.
During the negotiation process, you, your insurance provider, and your attorney will need to evaluate how much all of the damages are worth. Then, you can make an offer for a fair settlement. For a minor car accident without any injuries, you can expect to receive less than the average settlement amounts listed above. However, if a car wreck or rear-end collision results in death or serious injury, the final amount could be far higher.
Why Is Your Car Accident Settlement Taking So Long?
Each car accident settlement is unique. Some settlements can be resolved in a month or two, while others can extend for several years. It all depends on the severity of the damages and the willingness of both parties to reach a fair resolution. Generally, the average auto accident settlement lasts between 6 and 8 months.
However, injuries tend to make the settlement process take much longer. For example, let’s say that you get in an accident with another driver and you both experience injuries as a direct result of the collision. You have whiplash and back pain, while the other driver is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, as well as physical pain and suffering.
You will both need to seek medical treatment, coordinate with your respective health and car insurance providers, and keep diligent records of the medical costs. Collecting and organizing the paperwork alone could take several weeks. Thus, if there are serious or even minor personal injuries, you can expect your car accident settlement to take longer than usual.
Car Accident Settlement Loans
Though going to trial is far more expensive, entering a settlement negotiation comes with its own costs, too. In addition to day to day living expenses, you may have to pay for some or all of the costs for medical treatment or damages while you’re waiting on settlement compensation. Fortunately, there are various lending institutions that offer affordable car accident settlement loans to people who need assistance paying for all of the associated costs.
When shopping for a settlement loan, it’s important that you seek out more than one lender to discuss fees, interest rates, and payment plan options. Be sure to speak with your attorney before proceeding with a settlement loan, as they could give you invaluable advice and help guide you toward the best possible lender. That said, you shouldn’t wait until you really need the money to start looking for a lender. A car accident insurance claim settlement can drag on for a while, so it’s best to start looking for a reputable lender early on in the process.
Fortunately, at Delta Lawsuit Loans, we can provide you with a loan while you wait for your attorney to secure the car accident lawsuit payout. We offer fast, comprehensive car accident lawsuit loans to ensure that you get the funds you need as soon as possible. If you think that you may need a car accident settlement loan, feel free to contact our office to learn more.