An estimated 20,160 people died in automotive crashes in the first half of 2021, which is the largest number of fatalities since 2006. Speaking to this dramatic increase in automotive accidents and fatalities, the United States Transportation Secretary was quoted, “This is a crisis. More than 20,000 people died on U.S. roads in the first six months of 2021, leaving countless loved ones behind. We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America.”
If you have been through a traumatic auto accident, then you are bound to have a lot of questions surrounding the settlement process. Simply Googling “best car accident lawyers near me” probably inundated you with a lot of vague answers and big promises.
In this blog, we want to provide you with some clarity and will discuss what to expect from a settlement when working with a car accident attorney.
When Should I Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
Although it is not mandatory for you to hire an attorney after a car accident, you absolutely should get someone to represent your case especially if you were badly hurt and need to focus your time and energy on your recovery. You have the right to seek legal advice at any point in time after your accident, but sooner is often better – especially since your attorney will need time to gather the necessary details and assess your specific case. You also can’t take too long to get your case organized since the statute of limitations only extends to 2 years in Indiana. Hiring an attorney will make the settlement process go more quickly and smoothly overall.
What to Expect When Working With an Auto Accident Lawyer
Here are the steps involved with pursuing a settlement after you have selected an attorney and they have agreed to take your case. We have broken things down into two sections: pre-litigation steps and litigation steps.
Pre-litigation is the first process you go through when seeking a settlement for your car accident – this step involves negotiating a payout with insurance only. If you are unhappy with the settlement offered during the pre-litigation process, you can choose to pursue litigation (i.e., a lawsuit).
During this stage you and your attorney will discuss the details of your accident, determine who is at fault, and decide on the best legal strategy to obtain the most favorable settlement possible.
Documentation and Calculation of Damages
In this second stage, your attorney will go through your medical records, property damage, and other factors to gather a full picture of the physical, mental, and financial damage caused by the accident.
Here your attorney will examine additional evidence regarding what happened on the day of your accident. This includes police reports, interviews with witnesses, and photographs of the crash scene.
Insurance Company Negotiation
This is the last stage of pre-litigation. Here, your attorney will negotiate with your insurance company’s adjusters and lawyers. If the settlement reached is satisfactory then the process is finished. However, if you are unhappy with the settlement that the insurance company offers, then you can choose to pursue a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you choose to file a lawsuit, your attorney will draft a written complaint to use in court.
In this stage, you and the other involved parties will begin to share information. You will also be required to answer questions at this point in the process. A lawyer’s expert advice is particularly important during this process because disagreements often arise regarding the evidence being presented.
Here you and witnesses state your testimonies about the details of the crash and your injuries. You will give your testimony under oath and in front of witnesses.
Once the deposition testimony phase is completed, your lawsuit may be ended through mediation and a settlement. If things remain undecided, then your lawsuit will move on to trials and appeals. If you move onto the trial and appeals stage, your case is brought in front of a jury and a judge. Once the jury makes the final decision, your case is usually over. If it is believed that the court has made a serious error, then your case can be taken to the court of appeals.
How is Settlement Value Calculated?
So, what is a good settlement offer? Unfortunately there is no realistic settlement calculator that can deliver a completely accurate number. Although it may be tempting to seek out an average number for car accident settlement values, it’s far too complicated to calculate an average when it comes to auto accident settlements. The reality is that car accidents are far too common and varied to calculate any kind of meaningful average settlement amount to use as a benchmark for your case.
Calculating the settlement value of a case really depends on the severity of your injuries and the amount of overall damage caused by your car accident. Typical car accident settlement amounts increase with the severity of the injuries and damages caused by the accident. In short, the greater the damages, the higher your settlement payout will be. Some factors that impact your settlement value include:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages (everything up to the date of the settlement)
- Loss of earning capacity (everything after the date of the settlement)
- Property damage
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of love, care, and affection
- Punitive damages
- Wrongful death
- Lower quality of life
Is it Worth Getting an Accident Lawyer?
Consulting an accident lawyer is beneficial even if your case is not going to court. A lawyer can help you by:
- Gather the evidence
- Accurately calculating your damages
- Negotiating with insurance
- Offering general legal advice
- Navigating court
At Broadwing Legal, we are dedicated to helping you navigate through the complexities of car accident settlements in an efficient and compassionate manner. We understand that dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic accident is a harrowing and stressful experience. Our expert guidance will help see you through to the other side and deliver the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today.