Car Accident Injury Claim

Car Accident Injury Claim

In 2021, the number of medically consulted car crash injuries in the United States reached 5.4 million. A National Safety Council report showed that motor vehicle crashes in 2021 cost $498.3 billion.

If you get involved in a car accident, injuries and vehicle damages are some of the costs you must consider. Even if you have insurance to pay for these costs, sometimes, you want the at-fault driver to be responsible for this situation.

One of the ways to recover your expenses from this incident is by filing a car accident injury claim.

How do you file a claim for a car accident injury? How long will the insurance claim process take? What are your rights under the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations?

This article tackles these questions and provides tips for starting your car accident injury claim. This article also discusses the do’s and don’ts when filing a claim or settling. 

Should you need a lawyer well-versed in personal injury cases, Personal Injury Lawyer Search is your one-stop site. Use the website’s search tool to find an attorney anywhere in the U.S. and learn about accidents, injuries, state laws, and other legal matters.

The Insurance Claims Process

If you are in a car accident, report it to your insurance provider, even if you are not at fault. You will likely need to provide information about the accident’s circumstances and the extent of your injuries.

Afterward, the insurance company will investigate your claim and ask you to provide the following:

  • Names of any witnesses
  • Photos of the accident scene
  • A detailed account of the incident

Before providing this information, consult your lawyer to uphold your rights.

Collecting Necessary Information for a Car Accident Claim

Gathering all relevant contact and insurance information is critical for a successful car accident claim. This information includes the names, phone numbers, and addresses of those involved in the accident and the witnesses.

Collect the license plate numbers of all involved vehicles and note all specific details of the vehicle damage.

Also, note all concerned drivers’ car insurance company names and policy numbers. Remember to not admit fault at the scene of the accident or to the other motorist’s insurer, as doing so can complicate your claim.

PIP and the Role of Insurance Adjusters

Personal injury protection (PIP) is an auto insurance coverage that is optional in some states and mandatory in others. PIP, also called no-fault insurance, can cover medical bills and sometimes lost income, regardless of who caused the accident.

The PIP coverage can vary between states. However, it generally includes the following costs:

  • Medical treatment
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Funeral costs and other services, such as childcare, which you may not perform due to injuries

When you make a PIP claim, the insurance adjuster investigates it by interviewing you and the witnesses. This insurance representative or employee also consults the police, checks hospital records, and inspects property damage to determine the amount of the insurer’s liability.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit and Dealing With Underinsured Parties

Sometimes, your car accident claim can evolve into a personal injury lawsuit. This situation can happen when you receive significant injuries, or you and the insurer cannot agree on your compensation.

You may also find that the at-fault driver has no liability insurance or is underinsured. Should their policy be insufficient to cover your medical costs and other damages, you can file an underinsured motorist claim with your car insurance, assuming you have such coverage.

Suppose the at-fault driver is uninsured or you have no underinsured motorist coverage. In this case, seeking a personal injury lawsuit can help you get compensation for the damages.

Investigating the Accident

When the at-fault driver’s insurance company investigates the accident, avoid giving statements to the insurer or signing anything until you talk to your car accident lawyer. Do not provide anything that can be used against you.

Also, your and your lawyer’s investigation to build the case will require doing the following tasks:

  • Taking pictures of the accident and your injuries
  • Seeing a doctor for all your injuries
  • Obtaining a copy of the police report
  • Listing the names of witnesses
  • Tracking all relevant expenses

Addressing Hit-and-Run Cases

Depending on your jurisdiction’s laws and insurance policy terms, you may claim compensation for hit-and-run cases under your uninsured motorist coverage.

Some insurance providers ask you to submit a police report for hit-and-run claims. Thus, it is crucial to report the accident to the police immediately.

Calculating the Value of Insurance Claims

Adding up your total medical expenses and lost wages is relatively straightforward. However, placing a dollar amount on the pain and suffering due to your injury can be challenging.

Insurance companies often use various formulas to calculate the payment for your nonmonetary losses.

One of the ways the insurer calculates such losses is by adding all your medical expenses and multiplying the total by a number between 1.5 and 5.

This number depends on the severity of the loss. For instance, severe cases use 5 as the multiplier.

Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

For personal injury claims, a statute of limitations specifies the maximum time you can start legal proceedings after an incident. After this period passes, you can no longer file your claim.

The specific duration of the statute of limitations varies by the claim type and the jurisdiction where you file your case. Act promptly and consult your car accident attorney to ensure you can meet the deadline.

The Role of Time in Personal Injury Cases

The statute of limitations is not the only reason time is essential in personal injury cases. Time can also influence other aspects, such as physical evidence that can be lost or memories that can fade over time.

Therefore, gather as much information as possible immediately after the accident.

Additionally, car accidents can cause injuries that may not manifest until later. Seek immediate medical attention following the crash, even if you think you are not seriously hurt.

Claim Approval or Denial

After the insurance company finishes its investigation, your claim will either get approved or denied.

A denied claim usually means your policy does not cover the accident or your claim has errors. Regardless of the reason, you should receive an explanation for the denial.

The company will approve your claim if the insurer agrees that its policy covers your damages. However, this approval does not mean the insurer agrees to fair compensation.

Whether the insurance company approves or denies your claim, contact a car accident attorney to determine your next steps.

Denial of Claims and the Appeals Process

Your claim can be rejected for various reasons, including the following:

  • You have not undergone an independent medical examination.
  • You have waited too long after the accident to file your claim.
  • Your insurance plan does not cover the type of car accident you are involved in.

Regardless of the reason, the insurance company will notify you if your claim is denied. Later, you can decide whether to appeal this decision.

Appeal procedures differ between insurance companies. Read your policy to learn what steps to take next, or consult your lawyer for assistance.

Car Accident Attorney’s Role in Serious Injuries

When you file a serious injury claim, hiring a car accident lawyer is crucial. An experienced lawyer can provide the following services:

  • Gather and preserve evidence.
  • Help you understand your rights.
  • Navigate you through the complex legal and insurance claim processes.
  • Ensure you receive the financial payout you deserve.

Getting the Insurance Claim Process Started After a Car Accident

One of the first things to do after a car accident is to report the crash to your insurance company. Depending on your coverage and the crash’s circumstances, you can file a claim with any of the following:

  • Your insurer
  • The other driver’s insurer (also called a third-party claim)
  • Both insurance companies

Your insurance company can help you start the claim process over the phone or through an online claim-filing system or app. Your insurer can also help create a third-party claim if you need to do so.

How Long Does the Insurance Claim Process Take?

An injury claim due to a vehicle accident can take a few weeks to six months or more to reach a resolution. The timeline depends partly on your willingness to wait for the appropriate car accident settlement offer.

What Happens After You File the Claim With Your Insurance Company?

After filing your claim, your insurance company should contact you for detailed information about the loss. The company can take a written or recorded statement or request an examination under oath.

The insurer can also contact other drivers and witnesses as part of the investigation. If you have medical expenses or an uninsured motorist claim, you must also provide documentation of your loss.

How Does the Car Accident Settlement Process Work?

A car accident settlement typically has the following steps you must complete to pursue compensation for your damages:

  • File a personal injury claim.
  • Have the at-fault driver’s insurer investigate the accident.
  • Receive a claim approval or denial after the investigation.
  • Negotiate a fair settlement if the insurance company’s offer is relatively low.

Seeking a Fair Settlement

If the insurance company accepts your claim, the insurer’s settlement offer will likely be low. You do not need to accept it immediately. You have a legal right to negotiate for a fair settlement based on your injuries and costs.

For such situations, consider working with a car accident lawyer. Insurance adjusters are knowledgeable in personal injury law, so fighting for your right to full compensation can be challenging without legal knowledge. Find a lawyer who can handle insurance companies.

Recovering Damages in Car Accident Injury Claims

When you file a vehicle accident injury claim, and your attorney negotiates a settlement, or the court hands a verdict in your favor, you may recover the following losses:

  • Medical expenses, including future medical costs
  • Rehabilitative service costs
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity (future lost wages)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium with a spouse
  • Scarring and disfigurement

Your Rights Under the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations

Generally, insurance companies must do the following:

  • Advise you of all your insurance policy’s coverage, benefits, time limits, and other provisions.
  • Acknowledge your claim, start an investigation, provide instructions and forms, and offer reasonable assistance not more than 15 days after receiving the claim notice.
  • Respond to communications from you no later than 15 days.
  • Accept or deny the claim no later than 40 days after receiving proof of claim.
  • Pay reasonable towing expenses unless the insurer provides you with a specific tow company before you use a towing facility.
  • Offer a fair settlement. If you suffer a total loss, the amount must include license and transfer fees and taxes.
  • Pay the claim immediately after accepting the claim, no later than 30 days from the settlement date.
  • Advise you whether or not the insurer will pursue subrogation.

Understanding Basic Car Insurance Types for Claims

After a car accident, read your auto insurance policy to check your coverage if you have not done so. Your insurance agent may have already told you what you are and are not entitled to, but checking for yourself can be a good idea.

Car insurance companies typically offer similar basic coverage types. The required ones vary by state, and other types are optional.

Personal Injury Car Accident Liability Claims

Auto accident liability claims vary depending on the party you name as the defendant in your lawsuit. The following sections discuss such claims.

Accident Liability Claims Against Another Driver

Claims against another motorist who hit you are among the most common car accident claims. The person at fault can be a car or truck driver. Suppose you are a pedestrian hit by a car or are riding a bicycle or motorcycle. Your accident also qualifies under this claim type.

In multiple-car crashes, more than one driver can be legally liable for causing the accident.

Dram Shop Liability Claim

A dram shop claim is a third-party car accident liability involving drunk driving. Dram shop laws let you sue an establishment serving alcohol to the person who causes an accident later due to being drunk.

This claim only applies under specific circumstances. For instance, restaurants or bars knowingly serving a minor can be liable under state law should the minor cause an accident or injury.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Accident Liability Claim

An uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage pays for your accident when the other motorist or their insurance cannot cover your claim.

In severe accidents where your costs exceed your policy limits and you need compensation beyond what your insurance provides, the other driver’s lack of insurance can present a challenge.

These situations are where uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage can come in handy.

Product Liability Claim

When the accident occurs due to a defective vehicle or part, your attorney can advise you to sue the manufacturer for damages caused by the accident and injuries.

Motor vehicles typically have three different defect types:

  • Design defects that make the product unreasonably dangerous
  • Manufacturing defects during car assembly or shipment or at any point during and after production before delivery to the initial owner
  • Information defects, such as a manufacturer’s failure to warn a consumer of inherent dangers when using the product as intended

Car Accident Liability Claims Against the Government

Suppose a poorly designed or maintained road causes your car to crash. You may have a car accident liability claim against the county or city responsible for the road construction and upkeep.

Your lawyer must prove the government knew or should have known about the hazard. However, suing the government for damages has limitations. For example, you cannot sue for punitive damages or hold individual government employees liable.

Punitive damages in personal injury lawsuits punish severe or egregious misconduct on the defendant’s part.

Medical Malpractice Liability Claim

Suppose you encounter an accident due to medical malpractice. The doctor and the facility where they practice can be held liable. 

Examples of medical malpractice resulting in a car accident include the following:

  • The doctor fails to diagnose a serious condition or illness, causing the driver to have a medical emergency while driving.
  • The doctor allows an injured person to drive too early.
  • The doctor does not warn the patient about the risks of driving while using a specific medication.
  • The doctor prescribes medication to a patient with a known allergy to that substance.

Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death is any death caused by the negligent, willful, or wrongful act, omission, neglect, or default of another. This claim resembles a personal injury claim, except wrongful death is brought by the victim’s family or estate.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims varies by state. In California, this period is two years, while in Louisiana, the limit is one year. Meanwhile, Minnesota generally has three years.

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance is optional unless your car loan or lease requires it. This insurance covers car damage in which you hit an object, such as a pole or another car. Insurers typically package collision insurance with comprehensive coverage, so expect to buy these policies together.

No-Fault Auto Insurance Laws

No-fault auto insurance laws mean there is no need to determine who is at fault for you to receive payment for small injury claims. Each party receives compensation from their own insurer instead of filing a lawsuit. These claims use personal injury protection as coverage.

What to Do if There Is an Accident

A car crash can cause you to panic or get stressed. However, try to keep calm and be aware of your surroundings. Some tips to help you manage an accident and file a claim later are discussed in the following sections.

Make Sure You’re OK and Stay Safe

If you get in a car accident, one of the first things to do is step back, catch your breath, and ensure you and your passengers have no injuries. Avoid getting out and standing on a crowded or high-speed road unless you must.

Stay Calm and Check for Injuries

If you have severe bodily injuries, wait for emergency services to arrive and try not to move. Soft tissue injuries can cause concern even in a bumper bump, and injuries can raise the stakes for an insurance claim.

If anyone among your passengers is injured, contact emergency services immediately or ask a bystander to call for help.

Move Impacted Vehicles Out of Traffic

If your car is safe to drive but is causing a hazard where it is, pull it to the roadside. Otherwise, leave it where it is and get yourself to safety.

Call the Police to Report the Accident

Whether an accident is a major collision or a minor fender bender, calling the police is essential. Some states require doing so. The responding officers will fill out a report and document the accident scene.

If the police cannot come to the accident scene, head to the nearest police station and complete a report.

Exchange Info and Take Pictures

Take photos of the damage to your car and other vehicles involved in the accident. Gather pictures from multiple angles to show precisely where the impacts are. These images can help determine who is at fault in the accident.

Get the other drivers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information. Exchange additional information, such as license plate numbers, car makes and models, and driver’s licenses. If third-party witnesses are at the scene, politely ask for their contact information.

Contact Your Insurance Company

While at the accident scene, consider calling your insurance provider or filing your claim using the insurer’s mobile app if the provider has one. This way, the insurer can tell you what it needs to process your claim and what to expect during the claims process.

If your car is damaged, your insurer can arrange a towing service to bring your vehicle to a certified body shop.

Start the Claims Process

You can choose whether to file an auto insurance claim with your company or the other driver’s insurer. Depending on your provider, you can file a claim with or without a police report.

Your insurer will usually require basic information about the accident, such as pictures of damage, to open a claim. The insurance company can assign a representative to assist you through the claims process.

What Should You Do After a Minor Car Accident or Fender Bender?

Fender benders are typically slow-moving collisions. Fortunately, personal injuries occur less in these minor car accidents, and insurance claims often resolve quickly.

Still, a small damage to your car can be expensive. You may not want to pay repair costs if you are not at fault. To help you know what to do after a minor car crash, follow these tips:

  • Stay calm.
  • Check for injuries.
  • Check for sparks or fire.
  • Do not block traffic.
  • Take pictures.
  • Exchange information.
  • Do not negotiate at the roadside.
  • Call the police.
  • Do not leave the accident scene.
  • Call your insurance provider.

How Can You Tell Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?

To determine who is at fault in an accident, claims adjusters will talk to witnesses, look at police reports, and review the accident accounts from the parties involved. State traffic laws and photos of vehicle or property damage can also come into play.

What Happens if You Are at Fault in a Car Accident?

How fault is handled after a car accident typically depends on where you live. In the U.S., there are fault and no-fault states.

  • In no-fault states, each person’s car insurance covers their damages.
  • In fault states, the person at fault for the car crash is liable for the damages of those injured in the accident.

What Happens if Both Sides in an Accident Are at Fault?

Depending on the individual state’s laws, the insurers from both sides can determine whether there is shared blame for the accident. Should both sides be at fault for the accident, the state can specify an amount to award to each party for injury or property liability claims.

What Happens in a No-Fault Accident?

A no-fault accident happens when you are in a car accident in a no-fault state. It will not matter who is to blame for the crash. No-fault coverage can help pay for your medical bills, lost wages, attendant care, travel costs for doctor visits, and household replacement services.

What Is Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Case?

Pain and suffering in a car accident case’s context is a component of your compensable damages or losses that typically include physical discomfort and mental or emotional suffering due to any of the following:

  • The car accident itself
  • Your injuries from the accident
  • The medical treatment needed to treat those injuries
  • The accident’s daily impact and your injuries

How Do You Calculate Car Accident Pain and Suffering?

When insurance adjusters calculate pain and suffering, they will look at the severity and permanence of your bodily injuries.

For example, you will likely receive more money for pain and suffering if you break three ribs than if you only bruise your leg. This concept makes sense because the more permanent and severe your injury is, the more pain and suffering you will experience.

Insurance companies usually multiply the amount of medical bills by a specific number to calculate pain and suffering. The more permanent and severe the injury, the higher the multiplier used.

Putting Your Pain and Suffering Case Together

Your lost income, medical costs, and other financial losses are easily quantifiable using car accident-related records. 

However, your pain and suffering claim is mainly subjective, so you must convey the most convincing, detailed, and complete answers to questions asking the following:

  • Your physical and mental experiences during the accident and in the days after
  • Your injuries’ impact on your life
  • The differences after the accident in terms of how you feel and what you cannot do

Describe all of these effects in detail so that the insurance adjuster or the court can see a fully realized picture of your pain and suffering due to the accident.

Using Your Own Insurance to Fix the Problem

When someone causes an accident, it is natural to feel they should pay for their fault. However, some situations may require you to use your auto insurance, even when someone else causes the crash. The following examples discuss how this case can happen.

Situation No. 1: No-Fault States

If you live in a state with no-fault insurance laws, you must make injury claims using your insurance first. These states require PIP insurance for this purpose. Only after meeting state-specific qualifications can you sue another driver.

In no-fault states, PIP and a coverage called medical payments can be used for injury claims for you and your passengers.

Situation No. 2: An Underinsured Driver

Suppose the other motorist does not have enough insurance to cover accident injuries inflicted on you and others. You can still sue them for the remainder. But if the at-fault driver has insufficient assets, the lawsuit may not be worth it.

One option is to use your underinsured motorist coverage if you have one. It can cover medical bills should the other driver not have enough insurance.

Situation No. 3: Not Dealing With It

You can use your own coverage for car damage instead of dealing with the other person’s insurance company. If you have collision insurance, you can use it to pay for the car damage caused by someone else.

The downside of this option is that your collision deductible amount can reduce your insurance check. You may get that amount back later if your insurance company pursues reimbursement from the other driver’s insurer.

Situation No. 4: Being Stuck With a Car Loan Balance

Suppose your vehicle gets totaled in a car crash. Insurance can compensate you for the car’s value at the time of the accident, whether you are using your own collision insurance or filing a liability claim against someone else.

However, you can still owe more on a car loan or lease than your car’s worth. This situation can happen if you finance most of the car’s cost or have a vehicle that quickly loses value.

In any case, getting a gap insurance can offer coverage for the difference between the insurance payment and the loan or lease balance.

Or You Could Sue

Another way to claim compensation is to hire an attorney and sue the at-fault driver.

You may need to establish that the other person is at fault, especially if they blame you. Police reports, photos from the scene, and the contact information of any witnesses can help prove you are not at fault.

Consider working with a personal injury lawyer when attempting to bring the case to court to help you navigate the legal process.

Important Tips to Settling Your Car Accident Injury Claim

Some essential tips to remember when you file a car accident injury claim are as follows:

  • Read your insurance policy. Do not wait until the accident happens before doing so.
  • Ask your insurance representative if you need help understanding your policy.
  • Call the police if you have an accident. Contact the paramedics if there are injuries.
  • Immediately inform your agent, insurance company, or both of the situation.
  • Obtain as much information as possible at the accident scene.
  • Cooperate with investigators or insurance adjusters.
  • Ask your insurance representative if you need to understand something about the claims process.
  •  Notify your representative in writing of any changes in your car ownership.

What to Do When Your Auto Claim Is Denied

If your auto insurance claim is denied, ask for the reason in writing. Doing so lets you understand the reason for the denial and how to appeal the decision if necessary. For example, you do not have the appropriate coverage for the claim.

Review the evidence and respond in writing, explaining how the evidence opposes the insurance company’s decision. Consult your lawyer for legal advice if you are unsure about appealing the denial alone.

Have Patience

Processing an insurance claim or lawsuit can take time, so patience is crucial. Your coverage will have plenty of detail you must understand, so knowing what compensation you can get is helpful.

First-Party Claims vs. Third-Party Claims

A first-party claim is one you file with your insurance provider. Meanwhile, a third-party claim is one you file with another person or business’ insurance company. Many policyholders have insurance for third parties who suffer injuries due to the insurance holder’s actions.

Things to Avoid

Regardless of your circumstances in a car accident, try to keep calm and remember to avoid doing the following things:

  • Leaving the accident scene
  • Admitting your fault
  • Not contacting the police
  • Not documenting the accident
  • Not seeing a doctor, whether you feel pain or not
  • Not documenting expenses after the accident
  • Not calling your insurance company
  • Talking about your case with the insurer
  • Accepting the initial settlement offer
  • Waiting for a long time to file the claim
  • Not hiring a car accident lawyer

Automobile Insurance Fraud

Automobile insurance fraud can take various forms. Some of the most common schemes involve car accidents and automobile property.

Automobile property fraud often involves dishonest auto body and repair shops, insured individuals, or both. They employ questionable or illegal techniques, such as the following:

  • Reporting car parts as damaged or lost even when they were not before the shop received the vehicle
  • Billing for unauthorized repairs
  • Charging for genuine parts when used or aftermarket parts were installed

Automobile accident fraud typically involves organized auto accident rings and staged auto accidents. These schemes include the following:

  • Suddenly stopping for no apparent reason
  • Listing passengers or witnesses not present at the time of the accident
  • Claiming injuries that are excessive than the vehicle damage

Common Reasons Auto Claims Are Denied

Sometimes, the auto insurance claims process can yield unsatisfying results. Some of the common reasons for claim denial are as follows:

The Accident Was Avoidable or Preventable

The insurer can reject your claim if the company considers the accident avoidable. For example, you may have let an unlicensed driver operate your vehicle when you should not have.

You Didn’t File a Claim in Time

Your insurance company will usually prefer that you file a claim immediately. If you take too long, the damage can get muddied, or the accident witnesses can disappear. States can set claim deadlines for anywhere from 1 to 20 years.

Delaying Medical Care

After an accident, you may not immediately realize the full extent of your injuries. If you delay the treatment for your injuries for too long, the insurance company can start suspecting your claim. This situation can result in an investigation and a possible denial.

How Does the Insurance Company Assess Vehicle Damage?

A qualified appraiser or adjuster inspects the vehicle damage and writes an estimate based on their initial inspection. If further damage is found during repair, the shop will contact the insurer for approval for the additional repair costs.

Auto Body Repair Shops

Some states have laws keeping insurance companies from requiring you to have your vehicle fixed at a specific repair shop.

However, these companies, such as in California, can recommend a shop where you can get your car repaired under the following conditions:

  • You must specifically request a repair shop referral from the insurance company.
  • The company has informed you in writing of your right to choose a repair shop.
  • Should you agree to use the referred repair shop, the insurance company must restore your damaged vehicle to its condition before the accident or loss. You will pay no extra cost other than as stated in the policy or as otherwise permitted by law.
  • Should the company provide an oral referral and you accept the recommendation, the insurer must follow it with the prescribed written notice within five calendar days as required by law.

Auto Replacement Parts

An auto repair can sometimes replace damaged parts using aftermarket components (not made by the original manufacturer).

Aftermarket parts can have equal or better quality than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Although you can use non-OEM replacement components to repair your vehicle, such pieces must be comparable to OEM parts in kind, fit, quality, performance, and safety.

Property Damage Car Accident Liability Claims

Aside from medical expenses from a car accident, property damage is a significant portion of your financial loss and inconvenience.

If the other driver has mandatory property damage liability (PDL) insurance, it can cover your claims. But if those damages exceed the policy limits, you can sue in a civil court for additional damages.

Should the court rule in your favor, you can recover the following costs:

  • Vehicle damage
  • Loss of or damage to property in the vehicle
  • Rental car expense

What if the Insurance Company Will Not Agree to a Settlement?

Sometimes, the insurer will stick to their settlement offer, even if you have a lawyer’s help. This situation does not happen often, and you will usually reach an agreement where you get paid.

However, the settlement may not go as planned. In this case, you can go for mediation or file a lawsuit, as discussed in the following sections.

Mediation Meeting

When you request mediation, you will meet with the insurance company’s representatives before a mediator.

The mediator is an unbiased third party who listens to both sides and helps you come to an agreement. Your lawyer can accompany you to this meeting.

A successful mediation lets you finalize a settlement amount. Also, you will likely need to sign a liability release form that promises you will not sue.

Filing a Lawsuit

Suppose you and the insurer cannot agree to a fair settlement, even with mediation. In this case, your lawyer can recommend filing a lawsuit. Choosing this option is a significant decision, especially since lawsuits can be lengthy and costly.

If you believe a lawsuit is your best option, ensure you have a car accident lawyer at this point. They can work with you to do everything to win.

How Do You Collect Your Car Accident Settlement?

How you receive your settlement depends on your situation. The insurance company will usually write you a check for the settlement amount after you sign the liability release form.

The insurer can send the payment to your personal injury lawyer, who will take a percentage of the amount as their fee before you receive the bulk of the settlement.

Suppose you go to trial, and the at-fault driver is ordered to pay you for damages. The result depends on whether or not the driver has insurance coverage and the money to pay what you are owed.

How to Settle a Car Accident Claim Without Working With a Lawyer

If you get hurt in a car accident caused by another motorist, you can settle out of court or pursue a claim in court. It is often best to get legal help with this process. But if you want to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, read the following sections to help you understand what to do.

Determine the Extent of Your Damages

When you get involved in a car accident, the driver at fault should compensate you for all losses, such as the following:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

By determining these factors, you can have a good idea of what your case is worth before negotiating a settlement so you do not ask for or accept too little money.

Identify the Parties Responsible for Harming You

If you are a car accident victim, you will likely file a claim against the other driver who caused your crash and deal with their insurer.

However, others may be involved. For example, you can have a claim against the motorist’s employer if the accident happened while the motorist was at work. If the collision involved a drunk driver, you may recover compensation from the bar that served alcohol to that motorist.

Gather Your Evidence

To make a strong case to show you are entitled to compensation, you must have solid evidence like witness statements and police reports. You also need proof of your losses, such as medical records and a diary showing how the pain is affecting your life.

The more evidence you have, the more likely an insurer will accept fault and your estimate of the damages you have endured.

Write a Demand Letter

After determining how strong your case is and how substantial your losses are, write a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurer. Your letter should contain the following:

  • The facts of the case
  • The expenses you’ve incurred
  • Your recovery path
  • A request for reasonable compensation

Sending a demand letter lets you open negotiations on your terms instead of starting from the insurer’s initial offer.

Carefully Review a Settlement Offer

If the other driver’s insurer accepts fault for the accident, the insurer will offer a settlement. This offer usually involves agreeing to pay you a fixed amount to waive any future claims.

Review this offer carefully to determine whether the compensation is sufficient to cover all your losses.

Take Action Within a Reasonable Time Period After the Accident

If you are trying to negotiate your own settlement, ensure you know the statute of limitations.

Your claim will be time-barred if you do not file a claim when the time limit runs out. If this situation happens, you will not be allowed to make your case in the future. So, work with an attorney and do not delay too long in reaching a settlement or filing a lawsuit.

Risks of Settling a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer

There are significant downsides to trying to resolve your claim without an attorney. Here are some of the potential risks:

  • You may receive less compensation than you deserve.
  • You can make a mistake that makes recovering compensation impossible.
  • You can end up giving up your rights if you sign a settlement agreement before knowing the extent of your damages since you cannot change your mind later.
  • You may miss out on substantial evidence.

Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer When Settling Your Car Accident Claim

Hiring an attorney to help you settle a car accident claim is often the best course of action for numerous reasons, such as the following:

  • Maximize your chances of settling instead of going to court.
  • Help you determine your case’s worth so you do not settle for an unreasonably low payout.
  • Make the insurer more likely to take you seriously if you have a lawyer.
  • Make you more likely to recover a larger compensation.
  • Align the attorney’s interests with yours by not letting you pay legal fees unless the lawyer helps you recover compensation.

A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help as a Significant Asset

Pursuing a car accident claim can sometimes be time-consuming and frustrating. Lawyers experienced with such claims have the expertise to put your case together and know what works and what does not.

Almost all car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning you will likely pay a set percentage of your settlement to the lawyer assisting you. Depending on your case, you may find this arrangement worth the money to avoid the hassle and maximize your recovery.

Filing an Insurance Claim After an Accident? Get Professional Legal Advice

Finding an experienced lawyer to help you get the best possible outcome for your insurance claim can be challenging. You need help from a competent lawyer to guide you through cases involving car accidents and other personal injury claims.

Personal Injury Lawyer Search is an online directory where you can search for lawyers to help with your car accident case. Search thousands of personal injury attorneys across the U.S. using the website’s search tool to find one near your city, county, or state.


1. How much is the compensation for whiplash and back pain?

In the U.S., most whiplash settlements as of November 2023 range from $10,000 to $100,000 for minor neck and back injuries. However, the average whiplash settlement for significant, life-changing injuries is between $1 million and $5 million.

Whiplash is a neck injury from forceful and rapid back-and-forth neck movement. Rear-end car accidents often cause this injury, which may get better in a few weeks following pain medication and exercise.

2. How much does a road accident fund pay for a leg injury?

As of November 2023, the average payout in the U.S. for a femur fracture (the worst and most valuable broken leg injury) is $167,000.

Meanwhile, the estimated settlement for various broken leg injuries is between $55,000 and $150,000, depending on the fracture type and other factors.

3. What is salvage value?

When your damaged vehicle is determined to be a total loss, its remaining value is called salvage value.

4. What is subrogation?

Subrogation is the insurance company’s right to recover from a third party the damages paid to you.

Suppose another driver hits your car, and you file a collision claim with your insurer. The company can ask the other party to reimburse the money your insurer paid on your claim.

5. What should I do if the insurance company does not contact me?

After you report your loss, a claim representative should contact you within a reasonable period. Sometimes, the insurance company can take up to 15 days to contact you.

Call your agent or insurance company for assistance if you do not receive any updates. If there is no response or you believe your claim is taking an unreasonable delay, contact your state’s insurance department.

6. What will the insurer pay on a physical damage claim under a standard auto policy?

Generally, your insurer will pay the lesser of the following:       

  • The amount necessary to repair your vehicle
  • The vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV)

Check your policy to determine what it covers, including limitations and exclusions. 

For example, enhanced aftermarket stereo equipment or wheels may have little or no coverage unless those parts are original equipment installed by the manufacturer.

7. What is actual cash value (ACV)?

ACV is an asset’s fair market value unless otherwise defined in your policy. This value is usually the dollar amount a prospective buyer is willing to pay for and is reasonably knowledgeable about the item.

8. What is an appraisal provision?

Most standard policies have an appraisal provision to help during disputes regarding the amount offered by the insurance company.

Under this provision, each party chooses a competent appraiser who selects a neutral umpire. If the appraisers cannot mutually agree on an amount, they must submit their differences to the umpire. The agreed-upon amount is binding.

9. How is the check or draft prepared?

If you are eligible for settlement, the check can be issued in your name or that of any lienholder, such as a finance company or bank. If your vehicle is repairable, the insurer can also include the repair shop as a payee.

10. Who is responsible for the balance of a car loan?

The borrower is usually responsible for the car loan balance, even if the vehicle is damaged beyond repair or stolen. The lender expects you to pay the difference if your payment is less than the loan balance.

11. Will the insurance company pay for a rental car while my car is being repaired?

The insurer will pay if you purchase rental vehicle coverage. Although policy limits vary, the company usually pays a specific amount daily for a set number of days.

The coverage ends after your vehicle is repaired, the loss is paid, or a specific period passes, whichever comes first.

12. How do I counteroffer a car accident settlement?

Suppose you receive a car accident settlement offer you think is not appropriate. Respond by stating the offer is not acceptable and suggest a settlement amount you believe is reasonable.

When possible, refute the insurance adjuster’s statements when offering a settlement. Show evidence proving your requested amount is correct based on the extent of your damages.

13. What is a collision damage waiver? Will the insurance company pay these costs for the rental vehicle?

You are usually responsible for collision damage when a rental vehicle is in your possession.

However, rental companies can insure themselves for vehicle damage due to collisions. For an additional fee, the company can waive all or part of your obligation to pay repair costs for the damage.

Collision damage coverage for the rental car depends on your policy’s language, so read your policy carefully.

14. Is the insurance company required to help me recover my deductible?

The insurance company must notify you whether or not it intends to pursue subrogation.

Should the company pursue subrogation, the insurer must include your deductible as a part of this process. If the company does not choose subrogation, the insurer must advise that you can pursue your deductible on your own.

15. Is the car covered outside of the state?

Aside from providing insurance within U.S. states, most policies provide coverage in Canada and U.S. territories and possessions. 

Many states and territories have financial responsibility laws requiring motorists to carry a specific amount of car insurance to cover losses due to motor vehicle ownership or operation.

16. What should be done if I am served with a lawsuit (summons and complaint) due to an accident?

Upon receiving a lawsuit, notify your agent and insurance company immediately. Send the original documents to your insurer and keep a copy for yourself.

Do not discuss the accident details or give statements to anyone except a verified company representative. Your insurer can provide legal defense if the lawsuit arises from a covered loss.

17. Is a newly acquired vehicle covered?

Most policies provide automatic coverage for a newly acquired car in addition to the vehicles you already have on your policy.

Additionally, most policies provide automatic coverage for a vehicle that replaces the one already on your policy. This coverage is usually the same one on your previous car.

18. Will my rates go up after I’m involved in an accident?

Suppose you get involved in more than one accident and are convicted of more than one traffic violation. In these cases, your insurance rates will likely go up.

Having more than one traffic violation or accident on your driving record can mean you are a high-risk driver more likely to file future claims.

Insurance companies typically charge higher rates to offset this risk. On average, a full coverage premium can increase about 42% after an at-fault accident.

19. Can I be awarded pain and suffering compensation even if the car accident was minor?

Proving the extent of your pain and suffering from a minor accident can be challenging. But even if your car accident injuries are minor, there is almost always a “pain and suffering” component in any settlement offer you receive.

For instance, a car accident causes you to suffer a mild knee sprain, incur $600 in medical bills, miss no time at work, and make a full recovery in two weeks. The car insurance adjuster can offer you a $1,800 settlement that includes the following:

  • $600 in special damages to cover your medical bills
  • $1,200 in general damages to cover your pain and suffering


  1. Overview
  2. So You’ve Had an Accident, What’s Next?
  3. Whiplash

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