auto accident claim

By most estimates, only 3 to 5 percent of auto accident cases go all the way to trial. That means that if you’re involved in an accident, the amount of compensation you receive usually depends on how much an insurance company agrees to pay in a settlement. You may receive a settlement offer soon after the accident, but there are several things you should know before you accept anything.

Perhaps most importantly, be aware that the insurance company’s initial offer is almost always far less than you deserve. They are hoping you will opt to accept a cash payment right away rather than go through the expense and uncertainty of litigation. Instead of taking the first settlement offer, you should talk to a qualified Bay Area car accident lawyer first.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of California car accident victims enlist the help of a lawyer, and it can be a costly mistake. According to a recent study, people who used attorneys ultimately received settlements that were, on average, twice as high as people who accepted the first offer, even after deducting attorneys’ fees. The average settlement for someone represented by a lawyer was $43,300, compared to $21,800 for those who were unrepresented.

One reason for the difference is that attorneys take charge of negotiations. They write formal demand letters detailing what happened in the accident, who is at fault and why you deserve compensation. When the insurer realizes that you have representation and are willing to fight for your rights, they are more likely to come forward with a substantial offer.

The size and nature of provable damages significantly affect auto accident settlement payouts, especially when personal injuries are involved. Your claim will be evaluated based on a number of factors, such as:

  • Cost of medical bills you’ve already incurred
  • Expected future medical expenses
  • Amount of lost wages, current and future
  • Pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result of your injuries
  • Amount of damage done to your vehicle

An experienced attorney is far better able to assess what your claim is worth and how to present persuasive proofs during settlement negotiations.

Finally, no matter how severe your injuries, the insurer will not offer a settlement that exceeds the policy limits. If you are hurt by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you could end up with a settlement that doesn’t meet your needs. If your expenses go beyond what insurance can reimburse, then filing a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary to allow you to recover adequate compensation.

With offices in Vallejo and Fairfield, the lawyers of Favaro, Lavezzo, Gill, Caretti & Heppell, PC provide effective representation for auto accident victims around the Bay Area. We know how to make a case for recovering the maximum available damages in negotiations and in litigation. Call 707-674-6057 or contact us online today.