Car Accident Claims

How to Settle Your Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer

After a car accident, many injured people ask a variation of the following questions.

“Do I need a lawyer for a car accident that’s not my fault?”

“How can I get money from a car accident without a lawyer?”

“Can I settle a personal injury claim on my own?”

In most cases, yes, you can settle your car accident claim without a lawyer. In fact, the insurance companies WANT you to settle your own personal claim without getting a lawyer involved. Why?

Because lawyers cost the insurance company way more money. In fact, an in-depth study showed that for specific auto-accident-related injuries, the average insurance payouts were 3.5 times higher for individuals who hired an attorney. It is worth noting that the study was conducted by the Insurance Research Council which is a research organization created and funded by the insurance industry. More information can be found here: Auto Injuries: Claiming Behavior and Its Impact on Insurance Costs.

Nevertheless, you may still be able to get money for your auto accident without hiring a personal injury lawyer. There are three key factors that will help determine the outcome of your claim.

Three Steps to Settling Your Car Accident Claim

Step 1: Determine Liability

Liability is another word for fault. Determining who is at fault helps the parties decide who is responsible for paying for your injuries. Of course, if you are completely at fault, you cannot expect to hold someone else responsible for paying for your injury. If someone else is 100% at fault for your injuries then liability is clear. This should make your case easier and might increase the settlement value.

Clear liability: The other person is completely at fault and you bear no responsibility for your injuries.

Example 1: You are waiting at a stoplight on a clear sunny day. Another driver is speeding toward you from behind and texting. They don’t see you and rear end you.

Example 2: You are a passenger in an Uber. Either your Uber driver is careless and causes an accident or a driver in a separate car causes it.

Example 3: You are crossing an intersection with a green light when a drunk driver runs a red light and T-bones you.

Contested Liability: Fault it not clear, it is disputed, or the insurance company will not accept fault.

Example 1: You are changing lanes on a busy highway. You and another drive collide but you’re not sure who is at fault. You may both actually share responsibility for the accident.

Example 2: You are clearly not at fault, but the other driver is claiming you are. There are no witnesses and the other driver tells the police officer that he didn’t cause the crash. It becomes a he-said-she-said type of scenario.

Example 3: You are sure the other driver is at fault. She even got out the car, apologized, and accepted responsibility. However, after speaking to her insurance adjuster, her story changed. The insurance company is now refusing to accept full responsibility for your injuries.

Step 2: Calculate Damages

Damages are any harms you suffered as a result of the car accident. They can be financial, physical, or emotional. Examples of damages are:

  1. Physical injuries such as a hurt back, broken arm, or concussion.
  2. Economic loss such as medical bills, lost wages, a totaled car, or money spent on a rental car.
  3. Emotional damages such as pain and suffering. This can be difficult to put a value on but can greatly increase the settlement value if it can be proven up and tied to your physical injuries.
  • Once you calculate the dollar amount of each category of damages, add them to get a total. This is the amount of money you are seeking for your car accident settlement.

Step 3: Formulate Your Settlement Demand

Now that you have determined your damages, you need to make a formal demand to the insurance company. You should put together a packet that details exactly how much money you are demanding and gives supporting evidence. The demand packet should contain medical bills, medical records, the amount of lost wages, evidence of liability, property damage, and any other factor that goes into liability and damages.

Send your demand to the insurance adjuster. This is the time when you will determine whether they are taking you seriously or not. If they come back with a lowball offer, or worse yet, no offer at all, it may be time to call a car accident lawyer.

Other Factors That May Determine Settlement Value

  1. Does the Other Driver Have Insurance?
    • If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you may not be able to collect anything. You could go after them personally, but most people don’t have the money to pay out a big settlement.
  2. What Insurance Company is Involved
    • Some insurance companies are notorious for stiffing people. Allstate, in particular, has a practice of offering FAR less than what your case is worth because their studies show that most people will take it and walk away. Once you accept their check, you can’t hire a lawyer and try to get money from them later.
    • Other insurance companies will flat out deny your claim because they know most people will eventually walk away rather than hiring a lawyer to sue.

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