Settling A Car Accident Claim Without Legal Representation  - Magzinenow

Settling a Car Accident Claim Without Legal Representation 

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You’re eligible for compensation for car accident injuries or property loss caused by a negligent driver. Justice can be sought out of court or by filing a court action. It’s highly recommended to seek legal help with this process. 

Consult with a Bakersfield injury lawyer for a free review of your case. However, you can also litigate your claim without legal representation. But how do you settle a car accident claim without a lawyer?

Read on to understand the steps to settling a car accident claim and why you may want to reconsider the decision to self-litigate.

6 Steps to Resolving a Car Accident Claim 

Here are the steps to settling a car crash claim without legal representation:

1. Determining the Extent of Damages

The at-fault driver should “indemnify you,” or compensate you for the losses incurred, including:

  • Past and future medical bills;
  • Past and future lost wages;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish or emotional distress;
  • Property damage, and any other costs related to the accident.

You must know how much your claim is worth before filing a claim or negotiating a settlement. Knowing the value of your claim helps you avoid accepting less compensation than what you’re eligible for.

You will need expert advice on calculating your future medical bills and lost wages. That said, you must understand how insurers calculate damages, especially for pain and suffering. 

Insurance companies use two methods to calculate damages; the multiplier and the per-diem approach. 

The Multiplier Approach 

Under the multiplier approach, the total of special damages is multiplied by a number between 1.5 to 5— multiplier. The multiplier depends on the severity of injuries: serious injuries attract a higher multiplier while minor injuries attract a lower multiplier. 

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The Per-diem Approach

Under this method, the plaintiff is awarded a specific amount each year, month, week, or day since the date of injury. The recoverable damages are based on the plaintiff’s life expectancy.

2. Identify the Faulting Parties 

You must ensure the claim is addressed to the person or people responsible for the accident. In most cases, you’ll be dealing with the other driver’s auto insurer. 

There may however be other faulting parties as well. For instance, the other driver’s employer if they were on official duties at the time of the accident. You can also pursue a claim against a bar attendant if you’re involved in a drunken driving accident.

3. Collecting Evidence

You need to present solid and sufficient evidence to prove the defendant’s liability and your eligibility for compensation. Allowable evidence can include:

  • Witness statements;
  •  Police or accident reports;
  • Photos and videos of the accident scene;
  • Medical records and bills;
  • Financial documents, such as W2 and pay stubs;
  • Insurance documents, and 
  • Expert witnesses like accident reconstruction experts.

You’ll also want to demonstrate how the accident has impacted your life through reputable people like employers. The more solid evidence you present, the more likely you’ll win the case and recover damages for your loss—property loss or bodily injuries.

4. Drafting a Demand Letter

It’s time to write a demand letter to the other driver’s auto insurer once you determine the value and strengths of your claim. The demand letter should detail:

  • The circumstances surrounding the case;
  • The loss and expenses incurred;
  • The preferred recovery path, and 
  • A request for a fair review of your case and a reasonable settlement.
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Writing a demand letter makes way for negotiations on your terms, rather than the insurer’s terms.

5. Reviewing the Settlement Offer

Auto insurers or adjusters make settlement offers if they accept fault for the crash. A settlement offer is a financial proposal to a claimant for their loss.  

You should carefully review a settlement offer to ensure you’re awarded what you deserve. Accepting a settlement offer means giving up any future claims, so reviewing the settlement proposal can’t be overlooked.

Claimants can make a counteroffer or decline a seemingly unfair offer. The negotiation process continues until both parties are satisfied. Otherwise, filing a court action is the next option.

6. Taking Action Within the Prescribed Timelines 

Personal injury claims are subject to the statute of limitations. In other words, injury claims must be filed within a specific timeframe.

The statute of limitations sets the timelines for filing injury claims in court, usually between two and four years, depending on your jurisdiction.

California injury claims must be filed within two years or one year from the date of the discovery of injuries. Your claim will be considered time-barred if it violates the provisions of the statute of limitations. An out-of-court settlement should be fast enough to ensure you can file legal action if it’s not successful.

A car accident claim can be pursued without legal representation. However, hiring a lawyer can increase your success rate.