How Does The Car Accident Settlement Process Work?
After a car accident, it may be your first time going through the claims process. Here we explain what to expect and how the settlement process works.
First, Turn To Your Insurer
Minnesota follows the “no-fault” system. If you are injured in a car accident, you must first file a claim with your insurance company regardless of if another party was at fault. Under the no-fault system, you can only file a lawsuit against the other driver if either your medical expenses exceed $4,000, you suffer a permanent injury or permanent scarring or disfigurement, or are disabled for at least 60 days. If your claim meets one of these conditions, you have the right to pursue additional compensation, and here’s what to do next.
Gather as much information as you can from the accident, the medical provider treating your injuries, your employer, your vehicle repair company, and any relevant parties. Some examples of this evidence include:
- The police report.
- Any photos or video you took of the accident scene, including your visible injuries and damage to all vehicles involved.
- Vehicle repair invoices.
- Medical bills, expenses, and records related to your accident injury.
- Any journals you have kept on your daily symptoms and the impact of your injuries on your life.
Hire A Car Minnesota Accident Lawyer
It is in your best interests to hire a trusted and experienced car accident lawyer. They will have a thorough understanding of the laws related to your case and the resources to conduct an independent investigation into your crash. Your attorney will gather the evidence before it disappears, determine who is liable, and build a strong case on your behalf. Before negotiating with the insurance company, they will calculate your losses to estimate your claim’s worth. That way, you will not settle for a lower amount. If necessary, an attorney will represent you in court to obtain the compensation you are entitled to.
The next step is drafting a demand letter and sending it to the at-fault party’s insurer. The letter will contain the facts of the accident, as well as a request to resolve the claim by settling for a specific amount of compensation by a particular date. Most car accident lawyers will advise you to hold off on sending the demand letter until you have either fully recovered from your injuries or reach the point of “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). Waiting will give you a more accurate estimate of the amount of compensation you need to cover your losses completely.
The insurance company will have completed their own investigation and a decision on liability, as well as how much they believe your case is worth. After your demand letter is received, they will likely send a counteroffer. Negotiations will typically go back and forth for some time. Your attorney will advise you of the pros and cons of each offer so you may make an informed decision on how to proceed. If you can reach a fair settlement agreement, the case will be resolved once you sign a release of liability. If not, you may choose to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
Under Minnesota’s statute of limitations, you legally have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney will continue negotiations while preparing for litigation, with the hopes of settling outside of court. A case can settle up until the trial or even after it has begun. To accept an offer, the insurance company will require you to sign a release of liability. This form prohibits you from filing any further claims against the defendant or their insurer related to the accident. Your attorney will then collect and distribute your payment.
Contact Hall Law, P.A.