Car accidents and subsequent settlement claims can become a huge hassle. A lot of investment in terms of time and money will be required on your part to defend a successful settlement claim against another party. However, before you jump into a car settlement lawsuit, here are a few important things that you need to know and be mentally prepared for.
1. Negotiations are only open before a settlement is finalized
Negotiations are the key to the whole deal. The better negotiator will get the better deal. Therefore first and foremost, ensure that you have a proficient negotiator on your team. Your attorney is one of the best bets because he is the person with most experience in the matters of car settlements.
More importantly, negotiations are only open as long as the settlement is under discussion. Once you agree to the terms and conditions, the agreement becomes final and there are no chances of further discussions. Therefore, whatever benefits you need to obtain in your favor can only be gained before an agreement is reached.
2. Insurance companies might not make a lump-sum payment
If the settlement amount is large, don’t expect the entire amount to be paid in full as soon as the settlement is reached. Insurance companies tend to break down the payments making them every few years in the form of installments. This payment continues until the complete amount has been disbursed.
3. Always keep your attorney in the loop
It is important that you choose an attorney wisely and once you do, it is even more crucial to support him in every way. Why it is vital to be open and honest to your attorney is because he is your best defense. At times insurance companies will try to reduce their responsibilities by trying to prove that some of your injuries are older or that they were not a result of the car accident in question. When you hide any medical history from your attorney in such a situation, it becomes difficult for them to defend you effectively.
Moreover, if they find out you have been keeping some details hidden from them, it causes a trust breach that is detrimental to your relationship with them as well as to your prospects of winning the settlement.
4. Documents and records are your best assets
The biggest mistake that people make during settlement cases is that they fail to obtain or keep their medical records and other documents safe. This means that there is a lack of hard evidence. In the absence of this crucial element, it becomes easier for the defendant’s side to prove a number of your claims wrong. It is necessary to keep track of all medical care and other procedures through documentary evidence.
5. You have to be patient
Settlement claims can sometimes take months to end. So, as soon as you get into a car accident that requires a settlement claim to be filed, make sure that you are prepared for it. A temporary means of transportation and the budget and patience to last the duration of the case are important characteristics in a successful settlement claim.
6. Taxes are still applicable on settlement amounts
You might have to fight long and hard to obtain a settlement but once you do you are still not clear of all the obligations. Most people fail to realize that there are still taxes applicable on the settlement amount. Only the compensations for medical expenses is tax-free however, the amount received as settlement for lost wages and for emotional distress are taxable under the law.
7. Make sure to visit a doctor
Irrespective of whether the accident was a major or minor one, make sure you visit a doctor immediately after it. Most people skip the visit to a hospital if there are no visible injuries or they think the only minor physical damage was caused. The consequences can be quite profound because there might be internal injuries that arise after a certain time or the ones you thought were minor turn out to be extensive. If you didn’t visit a doctor within 14 days of the accident, it will be difficult for you to claim a settlement. This means that the entire bill will have to be borne by you.
8. Every case is different
This is something your attorney can clarify for you. Each case has its own specific details and requirements meaning that it has to be handled differently. You can’t assume that if a colleague or family member of yours did certain things or that their settlement was fast then yours will be too. It will depend on a number of factors and you have to consider what your attorney has to say in this regard.
9. Accident reports are vital in settlements
Accident reports are compiled by the authorities but it is your responsibility to cross-check them before they are presented in a settlement claim. Even the slightest mistake or misprint in the report can swing the case in a completely different direction leaving you and your attorney with little or no options altogether.
10. Insurance companies are challenging to deal with
This is something you might have realized throughout this blog. Insurance companies are business entities and they have an objective of minimizing their losses in terms of the settlement amount that you receive from them. Therefore, they try to absolve themselves of as much responsibility as possible. However, what is rightfully yours has to be claimed so make sure you work closely with your attorney to effectively respond to every tactic played by these organizations.
It might sound like a lot of work but when it comes to your rights, you have to fight. At the end of the day, you suffered considerable losses due to the accident and the emotional stress was besides that. If there was another party that was at fault, they have to be held accountable and you have to stand up for what’s yours.