The Car Accident Claim Settlement Process
Many people are clueless as to how the settlement process works when they hire a Columbia car accident lawyer after being injured in a crash. Here is a general breakdown of the process:
- File a police report at the accident scene.
- Notify your insurance company of the accident. This is also called filing a claim.
- Get treatment for your injuries. You should do this immediately after the accident, even if your injuries seem minor.
- Hire a personal injury lawyer.
- Your lawyer will write a letter to your insurance company, requesting the amount of money you need to cover your financial losses related to the accident. This is called a demand letter.
- If the insurance company refuses to give you the amount you need, your lawyer will write a complaint (lawsuit) and file it with the court.
- If the defendant (the person you are suing) responds to the complaint, your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer will complete the process of written discovery. During this process, they notify each other of the evidence they plan to show the judge if the lawsuit goes to trial.
- The lawyers will then conduct depositions. At a deposition, the witness (the person being questioned) promises to tell the truth, and both lawyers ask him or her questions. Based on the answers, the lawyers can assess the credibility of the witness. Your lawyer might take a deposition from you, the driver who caused your injuries, eyewitnesses to the accident, and anyone else who might have relevant information about the accident.
- The judge might refer you and the defendant to mediation. The mediator will meet with you, the defendant, and your lawyers to help you reach an agreement about a settlement amount.
- If you cannot agree on a settlement during mediation, the judge will schedule a trial. Your lawyer can file motions asking the court not to allow the defendant to present certain evidence if the defendant wants to present evidence that is unfair or misleading.
- If your case goes to trial, the judge may choose jurors. Your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer have a role in the jury selection process. Both sides will present their cases before the judge and jury.
- At the end of the trial, the court will decide how much the compensation the defendant must pay you.
- You must use your damages award to pay your medical bills and attorneys’ fees and, if applicable, to reimburse your insurance company, and then the rest of the money is yours to keep.
Let Us Help You Today
A car accident lawyer can make the process of negotiating for a better settlement, in court or outside of court, painless. Contact The Stanley Law Group in Columbia, South Carolina or call (803)799-4700 for a free initial consultation.