While you may be a defensive driver, even the best drivers can be involved in accidents. After all, a car accident happens every 56 seconds in Texas and an injury due to an auto accident occurs every two minutes. These injuries could cause you pain for the rest of your life. If you’re ready to settle your claim so you can focus on your recovery you may be asking yourself if you need an attorney to get a settlement for your wreck.
Yes, it is possible to get a settlement for a car accident without a lawyer but it may not be easy. Before you decide, make sure you have all the information so that you can make the best decision regarding your needs and finances.
Evaluate the Extent of Your Damages
It’s important to know the full extent of the damages you suffered before you start working towards a settlement. Damages include more than just your injuries and damage to your vehicle. You will also want to keep track of all the expenses you have incurred since the accident happened.
Make sure to include all car repairs, medical expenses, lost wages from missing work, and personal property that was damaged. Out-of-pocket expenses, such as lawn care or house cleaning, should also be included.
In some cases, you will be able to add future expenses to your damages. If you know that you will need physical therapy for months or you may be out of your regular job for an extended period of time, make sure to include this in your list.
Once you know the extent of your damages you can calculate your claim amount.
It may be difficult to determine the exact total of your damages, especially those for pain and suffering. Take the time to think about every possible expense related to your case, or contact one of our injury attorneys so that you can get the largest settlement possible.
Evidence You Will Need to Provide to the Insurance Company to Support Your Claim
After you’ve calculated the extent of your damages for your claim, you will need to prepare the following evidence for the insurance company:
- A copy of the accident report
- Copies of all of your medical records relating to your accident
- The documentation for any lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses
- Any witness statements taken at the scene that are signed and dated
- All photos taken from the scene
Information You Should Request from The Insurance Company
In order to submit a claim, you will need to contact the other driver’s insurance company. Inform them of your intent to seek damages for their driver’s negligence and get written confirmation that they are accepting fault for their driver.
Then, draft your own statement letter and only use facts, no opinions, and don’t include anything that may imply you were negligent in any way. Avoid giving recorded statements and medical releases. (You’ll see why below).
The insurance adjuster will tell you what they are willing to pay you after filing your claim. They will look at the information provided including the damage to your car and your medical injuries relating to the accident. It’s rare for this payment to be enough from the beginning, so you’ll need to be ready to negotiate. Stay calm and pay attention to what they say so that you can better craft your demand letter.
How to Craft Your Demand Letter
Once you have an idea of what the insurance company is willing to pay you, you can start to craft your demand letter. Your demand letter is your chance to demand more money and explain why their initial settlement is too low. Take the time to explain your injuries and losses in as much detail as possible. Explain that the other driver is responsible for these additional expenses and why their insurance provider needs to pay you what you’re owed.
Once their insurance company receives your demand letter, they will submit a counter offer. At this point, you may accept that offer or continue to negotiate.
What to Avoid When Dealing with The Insurance Company Yourself
When trying to get a settlement without a lawyer, there are a few things you should avoid. These include:
- Recorded statements: You should never give the other party’s insurance provider a recorded statement. They are trained to ask questions to minimize your injuries as well as make it seem you are at fault.
- Medical releases: Never sign a medical release for an insurance company. Their release form is broad and will allow them to access all of your medical records and bills from every doctor visit, medical treatment, and any past accidents or claims you may have. They can use this information to contact your doctor in an attempt to minimize your injuries.
- Not seeking medical treatment: Leaving an accident without being examined and seeking medical attention later may hurt your claim so it’s important to cooperate with emergency responders. If you realize you may be injured after you do leave, seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible.
- Lying about injuries: It’s never a good idea to lie about your injuries or your past injuries. There are records in existence that the insurance company will find. Lying could worsen your chance of getting a fair settlement.
It’s also important to know that the statute of limitations in Texas is two years from the date of the incident. Make sure to file your claim, or contact an attorney as soon as possible.
If the Insurance Company Won’t Honor Your Claim, It’s Time to Hire an Attorney
You should hire an attorney if the insurance company is disagreeable, you’ve decided that this process is too much to handle on your own, or you just want to make sure you get the full compensation that you’re entitled to. A skilled personal injury attorney has the experience to help you get the justice you deserve.
If you decide you don’t want to do it alone, contact The Stephens Law Firm and let us help you decide if an attorney is the best approach for your case.