What To Expect In A Car Wreck Claim

What To Expect In A Car Wreck Claim

Almost all personal injury claims, including car crash claims, settle out of court. In fact, only about 5 percent of such claims go all the way to trial. Most injury claims don’t go to trial, but most of them don’t settle quickly either. The final settlement must fully account for all damages in the case, including future medical expenses. If a claim settles too quickly, the victim/plaintiff might be financially responsible for these charges.

So, a good San Jose auto accident attorney never takes shortcuts or looks for the easy way out. Everyone, especially the victim, is anxious to move on in these situations. However, investing a few extra weeks in a case is an investment that almost always pays off handsomely. Shortcuts are usually okay during a long morning or afternoon commute. But they are never okay in a car crash claim. There’s too much at stake, both financially and emotionally.

Initial Investigation

The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in a car crash claim. Therefore, all successful settlements begin with the hard work of evidence collection. Usually, students who do their homework do well on tests. Personal injury claims are much the same.

The Big Three of witness statements, medical bills, and the police accident report usually form the bulk of the evidence in a car wreck claim. However, sometimes this evidence is unavailable or unreliable.

The police accident report is a good example. If the victim didn’t survive or sustained a catastrophic injury, when emergency responders ask what happened, they usually only hear one side of the story. Therefore, their reports could be very inaccurate. If the evidence is weak in one area, an attorney must work extra hard in other areas to make up for that deficiency.

Demand Letter

Once evidence collection and medical treatment are complete, an attorney can set a claim’s settlement value. The settlement value of a car crash claim is a bit like the asking price of a used car. The settlement value is the starting point for settlement negotiations.

If there are no issues regarding the evidence and the insurance company has no legal defense, the claim could settle almost immediately. However, as outlined above, there are usually some questions about the evidence. Furthermore, insurance company defenses, like comparative fault, are usually available.

Insurance company lawyers use these questions and issues as an excuse to delay the process. Filing legal paperwork usually forces reluctant insurance companies to come to the negotiating table.

Early Litigation

Many insurance companies don’t start negotiating right away. Instead, they file procedural motions and try to throw the victim/plaintiff’s claim out of court.

We mentioned doing the homework above. Usually, if the victim/plaintiff has any evidence at all, the judge overrules these motions.

The discovery period is next. Most victim/plaintiffs must submit to medical examinations and give their depositions. Document requests are a staple of discovery as well. Basically, each side has a legal duty to place all its cards on the table. Once each side knows all about the other side’s case, settlement negotiations usually heat up.

Late Litigation

Settlement talks sometimes stall or break down. If that happens, most Santa Clara County judges refer claims to mediation.

During mediation, which is basically a court-supervised negotiation session, both sides have a duty to negotiate in good faith. So, insurance companies cannot continue to go through the motions. They also cannot make low ball settlement counteroffers which only delay the process. Because of this court supervision element, mediation is usually successful, even if informal negotiations have been unsuccessful.

Reach Out to a Diligent Santa Clara County Attorney

Car crash claims are usually complex. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Campbell, contact the Solution Now Law Firm. We have offices in San Jose, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

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