After you make a claim with the insurance company, an adjuster will investigate the case. If you aren’t at fault, the insurance company will offer you money for your injuries and property damage. If you accept this money, this is known as a “settlement.” Some car accident claims are settled right away, while others don’t settle until after a lawsuit has been filed.
When you accept a settlement check, the insurance company will require you to sign a release. This is a document that says that by accepting money, you are giving up any right to get anything else for your accident. Once you have accepted a settlement, you usually cannot ask for more money or file a lawsuit.
How does the insurance company decide how much the settlement should be?
The first part of the insurance company investigation will focus on how the accident happened and who is at fault. In Georgia, the driver who is at fault is responsible for paying for all the injuries and property damage for everyone involved. Before an insurance company will pay a claim, it wants to know that its insured driver was the one who caused the accident. The insurance adjuster may look at police reports, witness statements and vehicle damage to decide who is at fault.
Once an insurance company has determined that it must pay your damage, it will want to know what the accident is going to cost you. The adjuster may inspect your car, review medical records, or use a variety of formulas and calculations to estimate the typical cost of an accident like yours. The adjuster will then come up with an amount to offer you to settle your claim.
How long will it take to get a settlement, and how should I handle my medical bills in the meantime?
Many car accident cases are fully resolved within weeks. If you were seriously injured, though, you can expect the settlement process to take longer. Serious injuries are harder to treat, and extensive medical evaluations and expert reports may be needed to ensure that you get enough money to pay for ALL your costs, both now and in the future. The settlement process might also take longer if you were in a complicated, multi-car wreck or if there was a DUI involved.
While you are waiting for insurance money, you will of course have medical bills. We recommend that you have the hospital or doctor bill your own health insurance, NOT the other driver’s car insurance company. There are two reasons for this. First, your health insurance will pay right away, while the other driver’s insurance will not pay until your claim is completely resolved. Second, your insurance will pay the doctor at a reduced rate, while the other driver’s insurance company has to pay you the full amount of the doctor’s bill. This means that in the end, you will have more money if you use your own health insurance coverage first.
Can I negotiate?
Absolutely. When you look at a settlement offer from another driver’s insurance company, you must remember that the insurance company wants to pay you the smallest amount possible. This is how insurance companies stay profitable. In many cases, the first offer you get will not be enough to cover all your costs—especially if you have been seriously injured and are not sure what it will really take for you to recover.
To negotiate effectively, you will need to show the insurance company why it should give you more money. This is where a car accident lawyer around Atlanta Georgia can help you. Lawyers aren’t likely to be influenced by insurance company tricks and tactics—they’ve seen it all before. They know what kind of evidence the insurance company wants to see, and they know how to put together a strong and convincing case. Having a lawyer to handle the negotiations for you can relieve your stress and lead to a significantly larger settlement.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers know what it takes to get the best possible settlement from the insurance company. If we don’t’ win you money, you won’t pay us a dime. We will give you a FREE consultation to go you’re your case and help you decide what to do next. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.