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Is A Lawsuit Really Necessary After A Car Accident?
Whether you need to file a lawsuit for your car accident claim usually depends on whether the insurance company makes an acceptable offer in pre-lawsuit negotiations. Many factors determine what an insurance company offers, and this discussion outlines the most common reasons your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit.
Sending A Demand To The Insurance Companies
In most cases, before filing a lawsuit your attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement through either the at-fault party’s insurance company, your insurance company or both. Your attorney will send a demand to the appropriate insurance company (or companies) and ask for an amount of money that covers your pain and suffering, medical bills, wage loss, and any other damages you sustained.
However, if the insurance company refuses to offer an amount that fairly compensates you, you may need to file a lawsuit.
What Factors Do Insurance Companies Consider When Deciding What They Will Offer? (If anything)
After a collision, most people call their insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, or both to open a claim. This tells the insurance company that you are seeking compensation which prompts them to investigate the collision. A common scenario that keeps an insurance company from making a reasonable offer is the potential that you were partially or fully at fault.
If the insurance company thinks you were the sole cause of the collision, they may offer nothing; if they think you were partially at fault, they may reduce the amount they offer based on what percentage fault you were estimated to be. In this case, an attorney may recommend a lawsuit to give you a more comprehensive opportunity to argue liability.
When The Insurance Companies Offer Too Little…
Another scenario where your attorney may recommend a lawsuit is when the insurance company refuses to offer an amount that covers the medical bills that originated from the collision. Sometimes the insurance company will review your medical records and decide that you treated to the degree that they deem necessary, treated for injuries that were not solely related to the collision, or treated in a way the insurance company thinks would not improve your health. This is a situation where your attorney may recommend a lawsuit to provide a better opportunity to argue the reasonableness and appropriate extent of your treatment.
Either of the aforementioned scenarios – disputed liability or medical treatment – could result in the insurance company refusing to make an acceptable offer. There are several other scenarios that could lead to the same result. These include the insurance company claiming the policy does not cover your injuries, your wage loss is unsubstantiated, or they simply do not believe your pain and suffering was as extensive as you claim.
After The Lawsuit Has Been Filed
Once a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will assign your claim to an attorney who assesses the value of your claim, usually through the use of discovery. Discovery is beyond the scope of this discussion, but generally speaking, it allows the opposing attorney to take your deposition, hire a medical expert to examine your injuries, ask you questions through interrogatories, as well as other possible steps. By contrast, it allows your attorney to do things such as depose the other driver(s) and hire medical experts to examine your injuries. Thus, discovery allows both sides to get a better picture of the value of your claim, and in many cases, prompts the parties to continue negotiations. If you still have not received a fair offer, the facts of your case can be determined by a judge, jury, or arbitrator.
You do not always need to file a lawsuit to be fairly compensated. If you find that the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer, an experienced attorney can help to litigate your case to a more positive outcome for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Daniel Swinford is a personal injury attorney at Washington Law Center assisting clients out of our Tacoma office with personal injury cases like car accident injury and sexual assault claims. Daniel is committed to securing the proper justice our clients deserve. He has experience litigating injury cases throughout the state of Washington. Click here to learn more about Daniel.