How to Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer

How to Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer

In the United States, over 400,000 personal injury claims are filed annually, according to a 2021 report. From this figure, 52% of such claims come from vehicle accidents, ranging from motorbike hits to car crashes.

Based on these statistics, you can imagine how many people want to receive compensation for injuries due to road accidents.

If you get involved in a car crash, you may also want to receive a payout if you suffer injuries or damages. But if you do not have a lawyer, you can still file a personal injury claim by yourself.

How do you handle a car accident insurance claim without a lawyer? When should you consider representing yourself? How do you decide whether to hire a lawyer or not?

This article tackles these questions and explains the risks of settling an accident claim without a lawyer. This article also explores the types of cases you should not settle by yourself.

Do you have a car accident case involving severe injuries to you or your loved one? Visit Personal Injury Lawyers and find an attorney to help you navigate the legal system’s complexities.

Guide for Handling an Auto Accident Insurance Claim on Your Own

If you have been in an accident for the first time, you may be unsure what to do next. You might receive calls from insurance company agents wanting to ask a few questions, request recorded statements, or offer money to settle your claim.

Consider hiring a lawyer who can help handle your case. But if the claim is minor and getting an attorney is a hassle, you can consider handling the car accident claim yourself.

This Guide Does Not Constitute Legal Advice

Before reading further, note that this guide does not constitute legal advice. This article was written for informational purposes only and is not intended to discourage or substitute consultation with a legal professional.

Every car accident claim is unique, so the process of handling your case can vary. This guide provides suggestions and identifies arguments the insurance company can make before you file your claim. Seek professional assistance from a lawyer for legal advice regarding your case.

What to Do After a Motor Vehicle Accident

If you have injuries from a car accident, try to keep still so you do not injure yourself further. But if you can move without causing damage to the accident scene, consider doing the following:

  • Call first responders and check others caught in the accident.
  • Take pictures of the accident from all angles. Include damage to roads, utility poles, and other property damage.
  • Obtain insurance, registration, and contact information from other motorists involved.
  • Request contact information from witnesses, such as passengers in the potential defendant’s vehicle.
  • Seek immediate medical attention, even if you think your injuries are minor. Allow emergency medical responders to check on you.
  • Give a statement to the police, but do not talk about the accident to anyone else.
  • Do not post about the accident or other activities on social media.
  • Contact a car accident lawyer immediately.

Understanding Auto Accidents As Personal Injury Cases

Personal injuries include all kinds of injuries to your body, reputation, or emotions. Such injury claims can arise from harm done to the body. As such, automobile accidents can qualify under such claims.

When you get injured, and your car is damaged due to the accident, you can have a personal injury and a property damage claim. In this case, your or the other driver’s insurance company will usually handle the property damage claim.

The Battle Is Challenging, but You Can Win It

A car accident can instantly change everything in your life physically, financially, and emotionally. You can suddenly find yourself overwhelmed by medical bills, possible permanent physical damage, and lost wages.

Furthermore, the insurance company may offer to settle your personal injury claim quickly and for less than what you need.

Without an attorney, you may have to face these challenges by yourself. However, nothing should prevent you from hiring a lawyer before signing an agreement with your insurance company.

Differences in the Law

Regarding personal injury, some states implement at-fault laws, and others have no-fault laws.

An at-fault state, also called a tort state, holds the driver who causes the collision responsible for compensating the other party for losses.

Meanwhile, a no-fault state requires both drivers’ insurance companies to pay for their respective insured’s medical costs, regardless of who is responsible for the accident.

When to Consider Self-Representation

You can represent yourself in a claim and receive fair compensation if the decision goes in your favor.

In this case, you need experience dealing with legal matters or knowledge of how accident claims processes work. Also, consider your injuries and faults, as discussed below, if you choose self-representation.

Your Injuries

If you get severely injured in a car accident, think twice about representing yourself. Consider your present and future medical treatment costs, lost income compensation, and pain and suffering due to your injuries.

Furthermore, serious injuries can raise the stakes of your claim, and you will likely encounter resistance from your opponent.

Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can improve your chances of getting a fair settlement for accident-related damages.


Suppose you have witnesses who can testify that your opponent is at fault for the accident. You may have an easier time proving fault and getting an appropriate settlement by yourself.

However, expect more of a fight if your opponent’s responsibility for the accident is unclear. For instance, the defense can blame you and say you could have avoided the accident but were driving too fast. In such cases, consider if it’s worth hiring an attorney.

Decide Whether to Proceed With or Without a Car Accident Attorney

Depending on your car crash details, legal representation may help save you time and money. The following sections discuss the factors to consider when working with a lawyer to represent you in the car accident settlement process.

Determine the Extent of Your Damages

When you get injured in a car accident, determine the damages the driver at fault for the crash should compensate you for, such as the following:

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

Damages Capable of Exact Calculation—Special Damages

You can use exact calculations on special damages because you can place a dollar value on them. These damages include the following:

  • Lost income
  • Medical bills
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Property damage (costs to replace or fix your car after an accident)
  • Other financial losses related to your accident

Lost Earnings

This factor represents your lost money and how much you can still lose due to your injuries.

Suppose you used to earn $40,000 annually but got disabled for a year due to a severe back injury from a car accident. Afterward, you return to work as a part-timer, earning $20,000 yearly.

Your lost income is $40,000, and your lost earning capacity is $20,000 annually ($40,000 original income – $20,000 new income = $20,000 lost earnings).

Present Value

Present value is a financial concept that calculates a future income stream’s value as if that amount were in your bank account today. You can use this calculation to determine your future lost earning capacity.

Present value involves determining how much money your employer must put in your bank account today to cover your future salary, such as for the next 20 years. The calculation is complex and may require expert advice.

Damages Not Capable of Exact Calculation

Some damages are intangible, and assigning an exact dollar amount can be challenging. These damages include physical and mental pain you experience after the accident.

One way to calculate these damages is to use a multiplier. The multiplier is based on several factors, such as how painful and obvious your injuries are. Lawyers often use this method to estimate pain and suffering.

Identify the Parties Responsible for Harming You

In many cases, you can pursue a claim against the other motorist responsible for your crash and deal with their insurance provider.

However, other parties may also be to blame. For example, you can file a claim against the driver’s employer if the crash happens while the motorist is working. If the driver is drunk, you can recover compensation from the bar that served them alcohol.

Gather Your Evidence

To show you are entitled to compensation, you must build a solid case and maximize your chances of receiving a fair settlement offer.

You must have solid evidence that the other driver is to blame. Such evidence includes police reports or witness statements. You also need proof of the extent of your losses, including medical records and a diary of your pain’s impact on your life.

Evidence You Need to Gather at a Car Accident Scene

While you are at the accident scene, write the involved drivers’ contact information and get their insurance information, such as the company name, policy number, and phone number.

If there are witnesses, ask them for a statement of what they saw and include the date, their signature, and contact information.

Take photo evidence of the scene by getting pictures of the vehicles in the wreck from all angles. Include skid marks, photos of the area with the horizon and sky, and any visible injuries on you or the passengers.

Evidence You Need to Support an Insurance Claim for Damages

Among the first things to do when filing a claim is to inform the other driver’s insurance provider that you intend to seek damages for that driver’s negligence.

You must also contact your insurance company and provide them with the accident details and the steps you are taking. If you are a policyholder, the insurance company can require you to notify them of the accident regardless of who is at fault.

Provide Supporting Documents

When proving pain and suffering, you must provide evidence of medical attention supporting your claims.

Without a lawyer, you must obtain the medical records and police reports yourself. If you allow the insurance company to receive those records, it can decide what documents to consider.

Act in a Timely Manner

When seeking fair compensation for your losses, you must take action within a specific period. This time limit for filing charges against a defendant is the statute of limitations.

In the scope of personal injury, this limit can range from one to three years for car accidents. However, the allowable period can vary by state.

For example, as of 2023, Alabama’s personal injury statute of limitations is two years, and Mississippi’s is three years. Meanwhile, Florida’s time limit is four years, while Tennessee’s is only one year.

Write a Demand Letter

Part of making a claim is writing a demand letter to the insurance adjuster. The adjuster investigates insurance claims to ascertain the extent of insuring a company’s liability.

Your demand letter should contain the following information:

  • The facts of the case
  • The incurred expenses
  • Your recovery plan
  • A compensation request for a reasonable amount

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

Also, consider attaching the following documents, if available:

  • Police report
  • Photos of injuries and vehicle damage
  • Medical records, bills, and receipts
  • Doctor’s note
  • Witness statements
  • Evidence of lost wages

How Do You Write an Auto Insurance Claim Demand Letter?

In your letter, use the evidence you gathered to explain why the other driver should be responsible for the wreck. Also, mention your requested additional damages and why the other driver’s insurer must pay you the owed amount.

When writing the details in your letter, use hard numbers to prove your point.

Note that the demand letter is usually not enough to increase the settlement amount to your desired number. However, this letter can be an excellent place to start a claim.

Carefully Review a Settlement Offer

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

Carefully review this offer to determine whether the compensation is sufficient to cover your damages.

You can also counter or decline this offer if you feel you are not receiving fair treatment.

Await the Judge’s Verdict and Accept the Settlement

After hearing your case, the judge will decide how much compensation you will receive. The amount can be higher than the insurance company’s original offer, depending on how well you represent yourself.

If you cannot make a solid case, the judge can declare that the insurer’s initial settlement is sufficient. After accepting the payment, you can close your car accident claim and finally move on.

Understand That Representing Yourself Isn’t Always Best

As mentioned, you can represent yourself and settle a car accident claim in court without working with a car accident attorney. However, lawyers generally have more experience helping clients like you claim the money you deserve.

Lawyers can also streamline the settlement process to help you claim your money quickly. If your case ends up in court, they can argue against the insurance company on your behalf.

Take Action Within a Reasonable Time Period After the Accident

When negotiating your settlement, remember your state’s personal injury statute of limitations.

When the statute of limitations runs out, your claim against the at-fault parties will be time-barred, and you can no longer pursue your case. So, do not delay filing a lawsuit or reaching a settlement too long. Sometimes, you may need a lawyer to help you speed things up.

Should You Give the Other Party’s Insurance Adjuster a Recorded Statement?

If you pursue the case by yourself, it may be in your best interest to avoid giving a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster. There is no requirement to provide them with such a statement.

Adjusters can ask questions implying you could have done something to avoid the accident. They can also use your statements to minimize the effect of your injuries. If you hire a lawyer, they will recommend not giving such a statement.

What You Should Do Instead

Consider getting a written confirmation that the insurance company accepts the driver’s fault. Afterward, draft your statement letter instead of giving a verbal or recorded statement. Ensure you state facts only, not opinions, and do not include information implying your negligence. 

Risks of Settling a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer

Although resolving your claim without a lawyer may work in some cases, you can also encounter the following potential risks:

  • You can receive less compensation than you deserve.
  • You can make a mistake that makes recovering your payout difficult.
  • You can end up waiving your rights, especially if you agree to a settlement too soon.
  • You may overlook some crucial evidence.

Insurance Companies Can Do Almost Anything to Deny Your Claim

While some insurance companies can use recorded statements against your claim, others can use extreme measures to deny or reduce your settlement.

In one incident, an insurer admitted hiring private investigators to discredit a suing couple. These detectives spied on the couple to gather evidence proving substance abuse contributed to the accident.

This example shows how far an insurance company will go to deny your payout. If you represent yourself, your case should be minor enough for the insurer not to push back at paying a fair settlement.

Tactics Car Insurance Companies Often Use to Avoid Paying Claims

Some of the tactics insurers use to deny your claim or lower your payout are as follows:

  • Deliberately delaying the settlement
  • Disputing medical treatment, such as claiming to know you are overtreated
  • Requesting unneeded information
  • Misrepresenting insurance benefits
  • Unfairly charging the medical expenses to lower your claim
  • Making false promises and acting like a friend

What Accident Case Types Should You Not Try to Settle on Your Own?

While you can consider representing yourself, especially if the accident is only minor, some cases may be better handled by an attorney on your behalf. The following sections discuss these types of claims.

Accidents Resulting in Substantial Hardships

Suppose the accident results in substantial losses that go beyond inconvenience, such as income loss due to missing work or severe hardship due to not having a vehicle.

In such cases, hiring a car accident attorney may be your best option. When investigating your claim, they can determine a dollar value for specific losses, such as those mentioned above.

Accidents Costing Medical Bills in Excess of $5,000

Consider getting a lawyer if you get injured in a car crash with visible vehicle damage and an expected medical bill of over $5,000.

The lawyer will know how much compensation to demand, not just for medical expenses, but for other injury-related factors, such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, and reduced ability.

18-Wheeler or Semitruck Accidents

Accidents involving large trucks can often result in extensive property damage and severe personal injury due to these vehicles’ sheer sizes.

Numerous state and federal regulations govern the operation and maintenance of these vehicles. If you see yourself as an average person, you may find it impossible to know all these laws and how they can impact your claim.

Drunk Driver Accidents

If a drunk driver hits you, hiring an attorney can help settle your case. Doing so increases your chance of receiving a higher payout than what the insurance company offers if you have no experienced attorney handling your case.

A lawyer can also help if you want to sue the drunk driver for the accident.

Drunk driving is a punishable offense in some states. For example, Texas penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) include a $2,000 fine, 180-day jail time, and a one-year driver’s license loss for the first offense.

Motorcycle Accidents

A vehicle wreck involving a bike can cause numerous serious injuries, many of which may not be immediately noticeable. An injured biker can develop severe spinal or neurological issues weeks after the accident.

Another issue with bike crashes is that it is not always clear who is to blame for the accident. For example, you can still receive a citation even if you are not predominantly at fault for the crash.

Accidents Involving Commercial and Fleet Vehicles

A vehicle crash with a commercial vehicle is like an 18-wheeler accident in which the situation can get complicated instantly.

Many company vehicles have large insurance policies, which are challenging to deal with if you have no lawyer. Therefore, consider working with a skilled litigator to handle cases of these types of accidents.

What Options Do You Have for Settling a Minor Car Accident Claim?

Suppose you want to file a claim for a minor car accident by handling the negotiations with the insurer on your own. You have the following options:

  • Negotiate a settlement without an attorney.
  • Work with a lawyer for a fee.
  • Accept the insurance company’s offer. This option will likely give you the lowest settlement amount with no obligation to pay your claim’s actual worth.

Issues You May Encounter While Seeking a Car Accident Settlement

Even if you think the car accident claims process is straightforward, issues can still surface at any stage. For instance, the insurer can push back when you submit a claim.

If you seek a car accident settlement by yourself, be wary of some of these issues, as discussed in the following sections.

Lowball Your Claim’s Value

Insurance companies often make a low-valued offer early on, claiming to save you from the hassle of negotiations. However, this offer rarely reflects the actual value of your damages, leaving you to shoulder future losses and expenses.

The insurer likely relies on your time away from work due to your injuries and medical bills, giving you little time or energy to fight for a higher settlement.

Take Your Statements Out of Context

Be mindful of what you say after a collision, especially when posting online or talking to an insurer. Any statement you say regarding the accident or your health can put your financial recuperation at risk.

To avoid this situation, seek help from a car accident attorney. They can communicate on your behalf to help protect your claim and rights.

Suggest You Caused the Collision

The insurer can reject your claim and blame you by suggesting your actions caused the accident or your injuries. When this happens, decide whether to search for more evidence supporting your claim or bring the driver at fault to court.

Common Mistakes That Invalidate Auto Accident Claims

When handling the car accident case yourself, some common mistakes can derail your claim and lower the chance of recovering the compensation you deserve. The following sections discuss these mistakes.

The Lawyer Refers the Client to a Doctor or Chiropractor

One issue with this service offered by some lawyers is that jurors are often highly suspicious of doctors and lawyers with a referral relationship.

The credibility of the doctor’s testimony can be put into question when, for example, the jury discovers that the doctor treated several patients referred by the same lawyer within a specific period.

Hiding Past Accidents From Your Lawyer

If you have been in previous accidents, your lawyer can investigate and determine whether those incidents are a valid issue in your case. But losing your case is almost guaranteed if you do not tell your lawyer and they misrepresent your accident history to the insurer.

Hiding Other Injuries

When mentioning the car crash details to your attorney, be upfront and honest about any injuries you may have before or after this accident.

If you visit a doctor or other health care provider, a record of that visit will exist, and the insurance company will likely discover it. Your case is over if you lie and the insurance company finds out. Fortunately, your lawyer can deal with this situation if they know the details.

Not Having Accurate Tax Returns

In most cases, an accident can cause a claimant to have lost income. However, you can only claim that loss if you have a good tax record. Expect to be required to produce tax returns when you file a lawsuit and claim lost wages.

You can still make a claim even if you have no tax returns. But in most cases, you cannot file for lost wages.

Misrepresenting Your Activity Level

Insurance companies can hire private investigators to perform video surveillance, check social networking sites, or search you online. If you say you cannot run or climb and get caught on camera doing any of those, you may have to discontinue your claim.

Not Being Aware of the Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations specifies the maximum time the involved parties can begin legal proceedings from the date of the alleged offense.

For example, Florida has a statute of limitations of four years, while Louisiana has only one year. Meanwhile, New York has three years, and North Dakota has six.

Delaying or Ignoring Prescribed Medical Treatments

After an accident, seek medical treatment immediately to help prevent your claim from being devalued.

One essential aspect regarding injuries is that you must strictly follow your doctor’s treatment plan. The insurance adjuster can use the refused treatments, differences from the prescribed treatment, or missed appointments to deny your claim.

Requesting a Settlement Before You’re Fully Recovered

If you want to pursue an insurance claim payment immediately, your impatience can backfire, especially when claiming for injuries.

After accepting a settlement, you must sign a release stating you cannot bring additional claims against the insurance company or the at-fault driver for your accident.

Thus, if you need additional treatment later, you can no longer ask for compensation covering the new medical bills.

Advantages of Having a Car Accident Lawyer on Your Side

If you are a car accident victim, you may need time to heal without worrying about medical expenses or how to return to work. In this case, a personal injury lawyer can take care of your case by representing you and securing compensation on your behalf in an efficient, stress-free manner.

The following sections discuss some advantages of working with a car accident lawyer.

Investigate the Car Accident

Your injuries can keep you preoccupied for weeks or months, so you may not be in a position to pursue a case by yourself. Fortunately, attorneys who regularly work on car accident cases know what to do to meet your recovery goals.

Some of the tasks attorneys can do are as follows:

  • Analyzing the car accident report
  • Collecting evidence
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Consulting experts like collision reconstructionists
  • Compiling the findings into a solid case for financial recovery

Work With Reliable Experts

Industry experts can provide the necessary inputs to understand the cause of the car accident and the full extent of the damage. Your lawyer can work with these experts to create a comprehensive picture for the insurance company and provide sufficient evidence supporting your compensation claim.

Build a Car Accident Case

While recovering from the aftermath of a car accident, you may find it difficult to collect evidence by yourself. This situation is where a lawyer can help you.

Some of the pieces of evidence associated with your accident that will help your case include the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Doctor statements
  • Future follow-up appointment dates
  • Police reports
  • Photographs of the accident and your injuries
  • Surveillance videos
  • Eyewitness testimonies
  • Medical documentation

Identify Collision Damages

A lawyer can determine your current losses and future damages due to the accident. Depending on your case, you can collect compensation for the following damages:

  • Reduced future earning capacity
  • Missing out on work benefits due to injuries
  • Pain and suffering
  • Transportation for doctor appointments
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Disability or disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium (intimacy with a spouse)

Assign an Accurate Value to Every Recoverable Damage

Assigning a value for your damages is an essential task to determine an accurate compensation. For economic damages like medical bills, the damage calculation process requires the following:

  • Gathering all invoices and receipts related to the car accident aftermath
  • Requesting pay stubs to estimate present and future lost income
  • Acquiring a vehicle repair or replacement estimate

Advocate for You With the Insurance Company and Protect Your Rights

A car accident attorney will do the following to help minimize your interactions with the insurance adjuster and protect your case:

  • Assist you in preparing any required statements
  • Communicate on your behalf, whether over the phone, in writing, or in person
  • Prepare and file the necessary documents with the insurance company
  • Advise you on any settlement offers and negotiate in your favor
  • Draft a demand letter and present evidence
  • Inform you about when you should take the case to court

Provide Informed Legal Advice

Not everyone is familiar with legal and civil matters, and insurance companies can exploit the victims’ missteps.

If you have little knowledge about such matters and want legal advice, hiring a lawyer can benefit you. Attorneys understand how to settle a car accident claim or fight for compensation in court. They can also face insurance companies and fight for your rights.

Prove Fault, Liability, and Negligence

If you work with a lawyer, they can help prove fault, liability, and negligence on your behalf.

Fault refers to who causes the accident. For example, the at-fault party in your car accident case can be another motorist.

Liability refers to who is financially responsible for the accident. Although a motorist can be at fault for the accident, their insurance company can have the liability.

Meanwhile, negligence is when a driver’s conduct departs from what an ordinary, reasonable person would do in a similar circumstance.

Navigate Any Potential Issues in Claims Processes

An experienced lawyer will likely have seen numerous challenging scenarios that can complicate the claims process. Some of these common issues include the following:

  • Multiple liable parties: Determining car accident liability can get complicated when more than two parties get involved, as multiple insurance companies enter the case.

  • A court award may be necessary: Although most personal injury cases settle out of court, bringing your claim before a jury can sometimes be best for seeking fair compensation.

  • You may be partially at fault: Depending on the state, being partially at fault can lower your payout or bar you from financial recovery.

Keep Your Case on Track for Timely Filing

Time is a crucial factor to consider when seeking personal injury compensation. States often set a deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits. Also, some evidence is time-sensitive, requiring you to collect it before disappearing.

Have the Lawyer Negotiate Terms

If you are an accident victim, standing up to an insurance company or a defendant’s counsel can be intimidating. An experienced car accident lawyer from a reputable law firm can stand their ground and firmly negotiate for the best possible settlement.

Fight for Compensation

Although you can get a car accident settlement without a lawyer, they can handle numerous legal obligations necessary to build a successful case.

A law firm with skilled, experienced personal injury attorneys can help determine how much compensation you can receive for your car accident claim.

What Are Pain and Suffering?

In a car accident claim, pain and suffering are physical or mental distresses for which you can seek damages. These damages depend on the type of injury and seriousness of your pain.

Most states categorize pain and suffering as a part of general or noneconomic damages. These damages refer to intangible losses that may be difficult to assign a monetary value to because pain and suffering are highly subjective.

Why Would There Be a Claim?

If you suffer from injuries or vehicle damage in a car accident, you can file a claim to seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.

The compensation for these damages can include the following:

  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Property damage, such as vehicle wreck
  • Money not earned due to the accident, or personal injury, or both
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional suffering

How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering?

When calculating pain and suffering in an injury settlement, you can use the multiplier and per-diem (daily rate) methods.

In the multiplier method, you add all special damages (economic losses) and multiply them by a number between 1.5 and 4 or 5.

For the per-diem method, you determine a specific daily dollar amount you have to live with the pain due to your accident. Suppose you determine a daily rate of $150 and 120 days of pain. The per-diem method will give you $18,000 ($150 x 120 days = $18,000 payout).

Vehicle Damage Claims

The insurance company will likely request repair work quotes or a vehicle appraisal for damage claims. Some providers have a list of preferred appraisers and car repair shops, but you have no obligation to use it.

If the insurer deems your car a total loss, the vehicle’s appraised value is likely less expensive than the repairs. In this case, you may still have room for settlement negotiations.

Rental Car

If your vehicle needs more than one day for repairs, you have a right to use a rental car similar to the one damaged in the accident. If you are not at fault, you can use the rental car until the repairs are complete and your costs are reimbursed or provided.

Bodily Injury Claims

Suppose the insurance adjuster asks you to sign a medical release or make a recorded statement. Instead of doing any of these things, ask an attorney who will reach out to the adjuster and handle the rest.

Whether you handle the claim yourself or ask for a lawyer’s help, always be careful about the information you provide. You do not want anything you say to be used against you later.

Low Settlement Offers and Common Insurance Company Tricks

The insurance company’s initial offer is often not the best or final offer. One way to get a better payout is to decline the original proposal and keep submitting evidence.

Still, the insurer can do a few things to counter your claims, such as the ones discussed in the following sections.

Claiming You Must Use the Other Driver’s Insurance for Repairs

Your insurer can wrongly say that you must go through the negligent driver’s insurance company to get your car appraised or fixed instead, claiming it was the other person’s fault.

This statement is false because you pay your insurance company a premium for this service. Getting your car repaired is usually quicker through your own insurance company.

Side Agreements

The insurance company can enter a secret side agreement with the at-fault driver’s insurer to get reimbursed for the paid medical bills and not tell you about this arrangement.

Secret Investigations

Your insurance provider can secretly videotape you and talk to your neighbors to get information to use against you during settlement negotiations.

Tracking You Online and Cyber Bullying

The insurance company can check the internet, including social networking sites, for your posts and act like an online buddy to get you to admit to specific activities.

Hiding Settlement Offers and Refusing to Settle Fairly

The insurance provider can refuse to settle claims fairly and fail to advise its own insured of settlement offers. These actions can put the provider’s insured at risk of financial difficulty.

Forcing Medical Care Reimbursements

Suppose the insurance provider managing your employer’s health plan pays your medical bills. The provider can ask you to reimburse the payment from any personal injury recovery you receive. In this case, your insurance plan is not an insurance but a loan.

Important Tips

Before you negotiate for the settlement, consider a few pointers to help guide you in dealing with an insurance company, whether you work with a lawyer or not. The sections below discuss these essential tips.

Questions to Ask the Insurance Company Before Negotiations Start

Some clarifications you can ask the insurer before negotiating are as follows:

  • “Will you write that I am not at fault for the accident?”
  • “If I make a recorded statement, will you provide me with a copy of the statements of the person who caused the accident?”
  • “Will you tell me the insurance amount of the person who hit me?
  • “Will you tell me whether you conducted video surveillance on me? Can you guarantee that you will not do so in the future?”
  • “Will you give me a copy of any financial information you obtain on me?”

Negotiating With the Insurance Company’s Adjuster

Negotiating with the insurance company is one of the ways to get the most out of your settlement. It is essential that you put aside your emotions and remain calm and rational when talking to the insurer.

Doing so lets you understand everything they say and identify issues with the insurer’s stance.

How Do You Negotiate More Money for a Car Accident Claim?

Some tips to help you negotiate for higher compensation in a car accident are as follows:

  • Do not hurry to accept an offer from the insurance adjuster.
  • Do not accept the first offers, as they can be less than what you deserve.
  • Always document all your damages since insurers require you to prove all your claimed losses.
  • Follow through with your medical treatment.
  • Review your vehicle’s insurance policy.
  • Hire an attorney immediately before negotiating a settlement.
  • Remain patient but persistent, especially when negotiations can take months.

Myths and Misconceptions About Car Accident Insurance Claims

You may hear various myths and misconceptions regarding car insurance claims. Some of these false claims are as follows:

  • You can receive a fair settlement proposal if you are reasonable and write a letter to the insurance company.
  • You must give the insurance company a recorded statement, or they will not settle with you.
  • Lawyers handling car accident cases have the same experience, skills, and tools to help with your claim.
  • The at-fault person’s insurance company is obligated to pay your due medical bills.
  • Having a lawyer refer you to a doctor is good for your case.
  • The attorneys shown on television are respected, and insurance companies fear them.

Discuss Your Car Accident Case With a Lawyer

After a collision, your health is likely your primary concern, followed by your financial well-being. If you face significant medical debt and are unsure of whether you can return to work, do not let these challenges keep you from seeking legal help.

Consult a personal injury lawyer for assistance on your case at no upfront cost.

“If I Choose to Hire a Lawyer, Does It Matter Who?”

Depending on the law firm you choose, the attorney working with you can significantly impact your claim. Insurance companies are wary of law firms that will fight them because of the threat of paying high claim expenses, even if the insurer loses.

“Can I Get More Money if I Hire an Attorney?”

A 1999 report by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) mentioned that accident victims who hired attorneys to help with claims received 40% more insurance compensation than those who did not settle with a lawyer.

In other words, you have a better chance to receive more money from a claim when you work with an attorney.

“What Can a Skilled and Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Do for My Case?”

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, your attorney’s tasks include the following:

  • Conduct an initial interview with you
  • Educate you about personal injury claims
  • Gather evidence, such as medical bills, police reports, and medical records.
  • Analyze your insurance policy to check whether you have coverage to pay all or part of your medical bills
  • Help you decide whether to negotiate the case with the insurance company or file a suit
  • Take the case to trial with a jury or judge
  • Prepare you and your witnesses for trial
  • Make recommendations as to whether or not to appeal the case

The Legal Process When Your Attorney Handles the Claim

After your treatment ends and your lawyer gathers the evidence, they will create a settlement strategy and attempt to settle your case with the insurance company.

Your attorney will also analyze the insurance company’s best offer and compare that offer to what you may get on a trial.

After you file the lawsuit, both sides engage in a legal process called discovery. Each party can investigate what the other side will say at trial during this stage.

How to Interview a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Case

Ask your lawyer a few questions before going through their free consultation offer and making an appointment. Also, ask them to send you a written information package, which should include the following:

  • A listing of sample verdicts and settlements
  • A written explanation of the steps in a personal injury lawsuit
  • A description of their fees and costs, the difference between the two, and how to calculate the percentage fee
  • A professional biography outlining how long the lawyer has been going to trial for personal injury cases and indicating whether or not the lawyer has board certification

How to Research an Accident Attorney Before Hiring Them

Some ways to look for an experienced car accident lawyer are as follows:

  • Ask your family and friends to refer you to their injury lawyer
  • Research attorneys online, such as through a state’s local bar association database
  • Research the lawyer’s extent of training
  • Discuss the lawyer’s fees before signing
  • Ask in person if the attorney can handle your case

Finding a Good Personal Injury Attorney in Personal Injury Lawyer Search

Personal Injury Lawyers Search is an online directory site that lets you search for attorneys specializing in car accident and personal injury claims in the U.S. Use the lawyer search function on the homepage to look up car accident attorneys in any U.S. state.

A lawyer can help you get through the litigation process involving settlements, pretrial conferences, trials, and filing of motions.


1. What is an example of a pain and suffering demand letter?

One example of a personal injury demand letter described a case involving a tractor-trailer incident, which led to the victim’s permanent back and neck injuries.

The first part of the letter mentioned that the victim underwent back surgery and had to undergo neck surgery, and physicians declared him completely disabled. The letter also said the victim could not work since the accident and was not cleared for work due to his injury.

The bottom part of the letter contained a list of damages, including pain and suffering. These damages were itemized with a total cost per damage and an overall damage total.

2. How much are most car accident settlements?

The Insurance Information Institute mentioned that in 2020, the average car accident compensation involving bodily injury was $20,235. Meanwhile, the average property damage compensation was only $4,711.

Other sources may have higher average settlement amounts. Regardless, your settlement depends on the extent of damages you experience.

3. What must I prove to get the most money from a car accident?

Before getting the compensation you deserve for your car accident injury, you must prove that someone was negligent and that their negligence caused your injury.

If you fail to prove negligence, sue the wrong person, or wait too long, you can lose the case and not receive the money.

4. Why is the insurance company not on my side?

Most insurance companies are for-profit businesses and any claim they pay cuts into their profits.

Thus, these companies will find any reason to deny a claim or offer you the least possible amount they think will satisfy you. Even if you have no-fault insurance and promptly pay your premiums, claims can hit the company’s profits.

5. What is a counteroffer in personal injury cases?

A counteroffer is the at-fault party or insurance company’s response after receiving your initial offer. The counteroffer usually includes a lower settlement than your original proposal and opens possible negotiations.

6. How do I pay an experienced car accident lawyer?

Many lawyers often provide an initial case evaluation for free or without obligation. Once you decide to retain a car accident attorney, your payment becomes a contingency fee, meaning you only pay if they win the case.

After winning a settlement, the lawyer takes a percentage from your payout as their attorney’s fee. You do not need to pay them if the case does not win.

7. How does a wrongful death claim differ from other personal injury cases?

What makes a wrongful death claim different from other personal injury cases is that you file it when someone dies rather than gets injured due to another party’s intentional or negligent act.

The survivors or the deceased person’s estate can bring forward this claim type.

8. What is the time limit to file a car accident claim?

The statute of limitations is a time limit to make a car accident claim. It varies by state. Generally, the limit ranges from one to six years from the accident date. You can lose your right to sue if you do not file a lawsuit during this period.

9. How is lost income calculated in a car accident settlement?

You can calculate the lost income in a car accident settlement by considering the money you could have earned from work if the accident did not happen. This amount includes lost wages and earning capacity if the injury affects your future ability to work.

10. Should I sign the medical release provided by the insurance company?

Do not sign the insurance company’s medical release form if you do not want to give the company the right to investigate your entire medical history.

Aside from contacting the medical providers treating your accident injuries, the insurer will have the right to obtain your records and bills from every medical treatment, doctor visit, and past accident or claim.

11. How is the settlement amount determined in a car accident claim?

You can determine the settlement amount in a car accident claim using the following information:

  • The cost of your medical bills
  • The extent of your pain and suffering
  • The severity of your injuries
  • Lost present and future income
  • The at-fault driver’s degree of negligence

12. What role does the at-fault driver’s insurance play in a car accident claim?

The at-fault driver’s insurance policy usually covers the injuries and damages caused by the insured driver. The insurer is often involved in settlement negotiations and can be responsible for paying the settlement.

13. Can I file a claim if the statute of limitations has expired?

Generally, you cannot file a claim after the statute of limitations expires. Consult your lawyer to understand when to file your claim or personal injury lawsuit.

14. How do I properly handle medical records requests?

When handling medical records, obtain them yourself and send them to the insurance company instead of signing their blanket access form. This way, you are sure the insurance adjusters can only access the medical records pertinent to your car accident.

You may need to pay out of pocket to request these records, but doing so is better than having your claim denied for an unrelated injury.

15. What is an insurance adjuster’s authority?

The adjuster’s authority is the maximum amount they can use to settle claims. Only a supervisor can approve a larger payout. Be wary of adjusters saying your claim exceeds their authority when the amount may not even be close.

16. What happens when I reach a settlement?

After verbally agreeing on a settlement with the insurer, immediately follow up in writing to close the deal.

Read the settlement agreement carefully before signing it to ensure it clearly states the information you expect.

17. What do I do when insurance claim negotiations fail?

Even when negotiations fail, remain polite but stern and insist that the insurer should answer your inquiries promptly.

Be mindful of your state’s statute of limitations for injury cases. You can lose your right to compensation if you fail to settle your claim or file a lawsuit before the deadline.

Should the adjuster not negotiate in good faith or try to place the blame on you, call a personal injury attorney instead.


  1. Personal injury
  2. Impaired driving and penalties – DUI/DWI
  3. Statute of Limitations: Definition, Types, and Example
  4. Negligence

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