While injured victims do not always get a settlement from a car accident, they can take their cases to court to pursue compensation. As the American Bar Association (ABA) notes, only a very small number of lawsuits are resolved in court. In the majority of car accidents, once evidence is compiled and examined, the at-fault party often settles their case out of court.
How the Settlement Process Works
When a settlement is offered, a personal injury lawyer might be able to help you strategically navigate the settlement negotiation process, which consists of:
- Defining the value of your lawsuit
- Receiving a monetary settlement offer
- Weighing the merits of each offer with your lawyer
Your lawyer may present a counteroffer on your behalf when an unacceptable offer is made. This process may repeatedly happen before an agreement is reached. Once you, not your lawyer, agree to accept an offer, the at-fault driver or their insurer will make payment to your lawyer. Your lawyer may deduct his fee—typically called a contingency fee—from the settlement amount and forward the remaining amount to you.
Recoverable Damages Included in Your Settlement Offer
Negotiating a settlement offer might be a long and complex undertaking on your own. The lawyer who represents you can explain the types of damages you are entitled to recover and the value of each of them. Included in your potential settlement is the value of your:
- Medical bills until your recovery is complete
- Income loss until you can return to work
- Property repair costs or value of a total loss
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- In-home medical and domestic assistance
One of your main goals in bringing your lawsuit is to ensure none of the expenses and losses you are entitled to recover are left out of these calculations and avoid having your lawsuit undervalued or underpaid.
Documents that Prove the Cost of Your Injuries
The injuries you sustain in a car accident might mean you receive necessary medical care from several health care professionals and facilities. The range of medical care you receive might also mean you receive bills from various sources, including:
- Emergency room fees
- Ambulance fees
- Hospital bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- In-home care
- Referral requests
- Assistive medical devices
Your car accident lawyer might be able to help you obtain bills from all health care sources, organize them, and compile them into an evidence file. This file may include additional documents, including check stubs, mechanic’s bills, and vehicle value data. The items in this file and the value of your lawsuit may help drive settlement negotiations.
Documents that Prove the At-Fault Driver’s Negligence
The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends filing a car accident report at the scene of the accident or as soon afterward as possible. Your car accident report is a key piece of information in understanding the cause of the accident and the sequence of events that led up to the collision. It may indicate whether the at-fault driver received any tickets or citations and whether any driver errors contributed to the accident.
In addition to your car accident report, documents and evidence your lawyer requests may include:
- Witness statements
- Pictures of your injuries
- Pictures of your damaged car
- Surveillance camera footage, where available
Impartial data in your car accident report that substantiates the at-fault driver’s negligence may include the notes, diagrams, and opinions of the investigative officer who responded to the scene of the accident. Get a copy of your car accident report right away and share it with your legal team.
Establish Your Car Accident Timeline
Under Louisiana Civil Code (CC) §3492, you generally have one year from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If this deadline, known as a statute of limitations, expires, your ability to file your lawsuit might be jeopardized, or your lawsuit might be dismissed before it is ever heard. Either of these consequences might mean you cannot compel the at-fault driver to compensate you.
Filing a car accident lawsuit might have additional filing deadlines or other factors that might temporarily pause the statute of limitations. Your lawyer can ensure you understand and comply with the statute of limitations and limit or eliminate the risk of dismissal.
Let Our Team Help You Reach a Financial Settlement
You do not always get a settlement from a car accident, but you are more likely to get a settlement than you are to go to court. If a settlement is your goal, our case assessment team might be able to help you negotiate a favorable settlement for the financial compensation you are entitled to receive. Contact the personal injury team at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers by calling (337) 777-7777 today for a free, no-obligation case review.