How do you know when to settle your car accident claim? And when should you take your case to trial?
There is no simple answer because it depends on the circumstances and facts of your case. Your car accident lawyer at Coastal Law will investigate your car accident, gather the evidence you need to maximize your settlement or prove your case to a trial, and advise you as to how much your car accident claim is worth and when you should settle.
Below, we will look at some of the factors your attorney will consider when negotiating a settlement, including:
- When you should settle your car accident claim,
- When it is too soon and when it is too late to settle your claim, and
- How to maximize your car accident settlement or verdict by waiting to settle your claim.
When Should I Settle My Car Accident Claim?
There are many different considerations that will depend on the facts of each case. These include:
- Whether liability is clear,
- Whether you have finished treating your injuries and know the full extent of the damages you are entitled to receive,
- If you have not finished treating your injuries, whether you have an expert medical opinion on the future effects of your injuries and the future medical costs including surgeries, ongoing medical care, medical equipment, medications, vocational rehabilitation, physical rehabilitation, lost future earnings, and long-term care,
- Any legal issues that will arise if you try the case and the likelihood that you will prevail,
- The limits of the defendants’ insurance policies (and your uninsured or underinsured policies), and
- Whether the insurance companies or defendants are offering full and fair compensation under the facts of your case and SC law.
When is Too Soon to Settle?
Your attorney cannot recommend that you settle your case until you know the full extent of damages that you are entitled to receive.
You don’t want to 1) leave money on the table or 2) get stuck with devastating medical bills down the road when you cannot come back and ask for additional compensation.
Insurance companies will often contact a car accident victim quickly – they are hoping to get to them before the victim talks to an attorney – to offer a “lowball” settlement and get the accident victim to sign a release before they even know how much money they should be getting.
Your car accident attorney at Coastal Law will make every effort to settle your case as quickly as possible. Your case could be settled within weeks or months of the accident if liability is clear, you have finished treating your injuries and your damages are clear, your attorney has gathered the evidence needed to prove liability and damages, and the insurance companies are offering full compensation or the policy limits.
Any settlement that is offered before that point, however, is probably too soon to settle your car accident claim.
When is Too Late to Settle?
Most auto accident claims in SC have a three-year statute of limitations, and this is the absolute latest that you can settle your car accident claim before filing a lawsuit. If the statute of limitations has passed and you cannot file a lawsuit, the insurance company has zero reasons to pay you….
You should not wait until the last minute, though. Once your attorney has gathered the evidence you will need to prove liability and damages and if the insurance companies are not offering a full and fair settlement, your attorney will most likely file a lawsuit on your behalf.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that your case is going to trial. Most auto accident cases are settled before trial, and your case can settle at any point – even during the trial or during an appeal following the trial.
How do I Maximize My Car Accident Settlement?
A car accident settlement is often a compromise – you may get less than you could have gotten from a jury in exchange for the certainty of a check in your hand.
That said, your attorney will not recommend that you settle your case unless the negotiated offer is fair and fully compensates you for your injuries. You should not “leave money on the table,” and you should feel confident that you are getting the maximum settlement amount possible short of taking your case to trial.
How do you know?
Tips for How to Know When to Settle Your Car Accident Claim
Every case is different, but here are some general guidelines for how we 1) maximize your car accident settlement and 2) know when to settle your car accident claim:
- Investigate the accident thoroughly – get copies of the accident report, witness statements, and photos of the accident scene, vehicles, and injuries.
- Research any legal issues that may arise if the case goes to trial including issues regarding liability, damages, and the admissibility of evidence.
- Don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company, sign a release (although you can settle your property damage claim separately), or give any statements to the insurance adjuster until you have met with your attorney.
- Do not release your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company unless your attorney advises you to release them.
- Ensure that the insurance company sets up a sufficient reserve for your settlement by letting the adjuster know that 1) you have an attorney on your case and 2) there will be substantial damages.
- Ensure the insurance company knows the severity of your injuries and the potential for future medical expenses.
- Keep all receipts, bills, and invoices related to the accident and provide them to your attorney.
- Follow up on all medical advice and do not delay in getting any medical treatment that is recommended.
- Know your damages – if you do not know all categories of damages that you are entitled to recover, the insurance adjuster is not going to tell you.
- Know your sources of recovery – you may be able to recover from multiple defendants and multiple insurance policies, including your uninsured or underinsured policies, PIP insurance, or umbrella policies.
- Do not let the insurance adjuster pressure you into settling your case for less than it is worth or before you have finished treating your injuries.
When do you settle your case accident claim?
When you know the maximum amount of damages that you are entitled to receive, and the insurance company offers full and fair compensation or the policy limits in your case (although, in some cases, your attorney may advise you to seek additional compensation from the defendant’s personal or business assets or your uninsured or underinsured policies).
Car Accident Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, SC
As we gather evidence and build your case, we will still be negotiating with the insurance company. They might make offers, and we will make counteroffers, but, above all, we will demand full and fair compensation for your injuries.
If you’ve been hurt in an auto accident in the Horry County, SC area, call the SC auto accident lawyers at Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or contact us through our website to find out how we can help you to demand full and fair compensation for your injuries.