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How Do Car Accident Settlements Work?

Written by Tom Crosley
Feb 01, 2022 Car Accidents, Catastrophic Personal Injury, Personal Injury, Vehicle Wrecks
  1. 1. What Is a Car Accident Settlement?
  2. 2. Step 1: Take Control of Your Car Accident Claim Right Away
  3. 3. Step 2: Call a Car Accident Lawyer 
  4. 4. Step 3: File Claims With the Insurance Companies
  5. 5. Step 4: Calculate Your Car Accident Settlement’s Value
  6. 6. Step 5: Car Accident Settlement Negotiations
  7. 7. What if the Insurance Company Won’t Offer Me a Fair Car Accident Settlement?
  8. 8. Injured in a Car Accident? Contact Crosley Law for a Free Consultation

After a car wreck, the at-fault driver’s insurance company might offer you a quick settlement. They might even tell you that it’s not worth it to hire a San Antonio car accident attorney. It can be hard to decide what to do or where to turn to. 

You deserve compensation for your injuries, and the reckless driver should be held accountable. But what is a fair car accident settlement—and how do you go about getting one? In these article, the personal injury experts at Crosley Law explain the car accident settlement process. 

What Is a Car Accident Settlement?

People talk a lot about car accident settlements, but there’s a lot of confusion about what settling a personal injury claims actually involves. When you settle a lawsuit, you are accepting a lump-sum payment in exchange for giving up your right to a jury trial. Once you settle your claim, you cannot go back and demand more money—even if your condition changes or you discover new information.  

Suppose you injured your back during a car accident. Your doctor schedules you for spine surgery, and you take the rehabilitation process seriously. A month or so after your operation, the insurance company offers you $100,000 to settle your claim. Eager to pay your medical expenses, you accept the offer without consulting with a lawyer. 

One year later, you start noticing shooting pain in your leg. Your surgeon schedules an MRI, and they discover that the hardware in your spine has broken and you need another surgery. Your car accident settlement covered your past medical bills—and you don’t have much left over.  

Unfortunately, in this situation, you will have to figure out how to pay for your upcoming surgery on your own. And if you try to ask the car insurance companies for more money, they will hand you a copy of your settlement agreement and remind you that you gave up your right to any additional compensation. 

You should never take the decision to settle your car accident case lightly.  

Now, let’s explore the car accident settlement process. 

Step 1: Take Control of Your Car Accident Claim Right Away

At the scene of the accident, you should first make sure that anyone who is hurt gets help by calling 911. Even if there are no apparent injuries, you should still call the police so that there is an accident report.  

After that, you should start gathering information that will help the accident investigation. The best time to do this is right after an accident, otherwise important details may be lost. It’s not always needed, but it is better to have too much information than not enough. If you are able, try to collect: 

  • Photographs of the accident, including all vehicles involved and any damage you see 
  • Insurance information and contact information from the other driver(s) 
  • Contact information from any witnesses 
  • Make a note of any nearby businesses that may have security cameras with footage of the accident 

Your car accident lawyer might use this information as evidence during your personal injury claim.  

Step 2: Call a Car Accident Lawyer 

Unless you’re an experienced car accident attorney, you’ve probably never investigated a car wreck, calculated damages, or worked closely with expert witnesses. That’s a lot to handle, even if you aren’t dealing with life-changing injuries, frequent doctors’ appointments, and the emotional trauma associated with a car crash. 

People who hire experienced car accident attorneys, like the team at Crosley Law, receive an average of 2.5 times the settlements compared to those do not hire lawyers. And, an accident attorney will handle all the details of your case, giving you the time and space you need to heal.  

Plus, Crosley Law offers free case consultations, and we only get paid if you recover compensation.

RELATED: How Much Do Accident Attorneys Cost 

Step 3: File Claims With the Insurance Companies

Texas is an “at-fault” state when it comes to automobile insurance. This means that drivers who cause car accidents are responsible for the resulting injuries and damages. To get a settlement, you must file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. 

However, you might also have additional insurance claims, depending on your situation. 

  • Personal injury protection (PIP): unless you declined personal injury protection in your auto insurance policy, you can file a claim for your lost income and medical bills (up to your PIP policy limits). 
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM): these policies step in and cover your losses (up to your policy limits) if the other driver’s policies don’t fully cover your losses. Again, you should have UM/UIM coverage in Texas unless you declined it in writing. 
  • Product liability: sometimes, a dangerous or defective product or part causes a car wreck. In these cases, you might have legal claims against the companies who made and sold the product. 
  • Vicarious liability: if the reckless driver was in the course of their employment, that company may be financially responsible. 

Your personal injury lawyer will identify all your legal claims and all the insurance policies that apply to them.  

Then, they will file legal claims with each and every insurance company, demanding compensation for your losses. Once the insurance company knows about your claim, they will assign you an insurance adjuster who will investigate and value them. 

If the adjuster thinks you’re owed compensation, they will offer you a settlement. (However, that first settlement offer is rarely enough.) But, if there is any reason to question the validity of your claim, the adjuster will probably deny it.

Step 4: Calculate Your Car Accident Settlement’s Value

Once you have identified all the insurance policies that might cover your car accident claim, your attorney will get to work, calculating your damages. Damages are the financial and emotional losses that you suffered during the accident. They might include: 

  • Medical expenses and bills, both now and in the future 
  • Lost income and wage-earning capacity 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Replacement services if you cannot care for yourself or your home
  • Property damage 
  • Loss of the ability to do non-occupational activities, like hobbies and volunteering 
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Funeral and burial expenses 

The Crosley Law team often works with experts, including doctors, economists, life care planners, and others to precisely value our clients’ losses.

Step 5: Car Accident Settlement Negotiations

To start settlement negotiations, your lawyer will typically send a settlement demand letter to the insurance company. This detailed letter outlines your case’s strengths, discusses your damages, and makes a specific demand for compensation.  

The adjuster will respond to your settlement demand, often offering much less money than your case is worth. Your personal injury lawyer will then negotiate back and forth with the insurance company, trying to get to a fair amount. 

If you reach a stalemate, your lawyer might suggest mediation, a type of alternative dispute resolution where a trained, neutral party helps you find common ground. During mediation, your lawyer and the insurance company will present your case in detail and then the mediator will try to facilitate a settlement. 

Do You Really Need a Lawyer’s Help During Car Accident Settlement Negotiations? 

How much difference does a personal injury lawyer make during settlement negotiation? As we mentioned earlier, insurance company data suggests that people who hire lawyers recover significantly more money than those who handle their own cases. 

Let’s consider a few of our clients’ stories. 

 In Andrew D.’s case, Crosley Law quadrupled the settlement that was first offered by the insurance company. We did this by leveraging all the insurance policies that applied to his claim, carefully preparing his case, and considering all his financial and emotional losses. Without Crosley Law, Andrew would not have received the full compensation he deserved. 

Our client, Kaegan, tried to handle to handle the insurance claim on her own, and realized she couldn’t do it on her own. Crosley Law stepped in and aggressively negotiated with the insurance company. Instead of the $50,000 offered by the adjuster, we helped her achieve a $275,000 settlement. 

What if the Insurance Company Won’t Offer Me a Fair Car Accident Settlement?

Most personal injury claims settle out of court, but insurance adjusters can be unreasonable. In these situations, your car accident lawyer will file a lawsuit and take your case to trial. Your claim will proceed through the litigation process, and a jury or judge could eventually decide whether you are owed compensation. 

RELATED: How Long Does It Take to Get Money After a Settlement? 

Injured in a Car Accident? Contact Crosley Law for a Free Consultation

If you’ve been the victim of a car accident and are seeking compensation for the damages, Crosley Law will evaluate your case for free. Our firm has a no-fee policy, which means you don’t have to worry about legal fees when you hire the experts at Crosley Law. Our compensation comes out of the settlement we win for you. 

If you’ve been injured and would like professional advice on what your case is worth, call Crosley Law at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or fill out our contact form.  

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 

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