According to a survey published by the CDC, motor vehicle crashes cause more than 32,000 deaths and 2 million injuries each year in the US. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 35,092 fatalities occurred in 2015 as a result of car accidents – a 7.2% increase from 2014.
The 7.2% increase was recorded as the highest in nearly 50 years. Additionally, 96 people died every day as a result of car crashes in 2015, and 6,700 people were injured.
Being involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience and you must understand that there are steps that you need to take to make sure that you have a legitimate case and your rights are protected. Although each personal injury case and victim are unique given the specific circumstances and facts that are involved, some basic steps and elements are common to virtually every personal injury lawsuit.
Investigation to Determine if a Car Accident Case is Viable
Soon after the accident is the first stage of the process, when your attorney will begin an investigation to determine if your case is viable. You will need to provide the attorney with facts and evidence to support your injury or damage claim. You will be presented with questions such as:
Which party is at fault? – In most states across the United States, despite the fact that one party is issued a ticket, accident cases are judged by the amount that two parties contributed to the cause.
What injuries were sustained due to the accident? – Your attorney will ask you to detail the injuries that you may have sustained due to the collision. You may also be asked to provide medical records associated with any bodily injuries present both during and after the accident.
Can insurance cover compensation? – You will need to inform your attorney if one or both parties have insurance to file for compensation.
Demand Letter and Documentation after a Car Accident
This is the second stage, where a demand letter is drafted and documents supporting the accident are sent to the insurance company. The demand letter is what acts as a catalyst to initiate negotiations. This is nothing but a letter, sent with supporting documentation to the insurance company to notify them about the accident and fill them in on the details regarding the collision.
You will be surprised to know that a typical demand letter and the supporting documents can run into more than 100 pages since it covers several details, such as:
- Facts surrounding the claim.
- A detailed summary that outlines why the other party must be held responsible for injuries and/or damages.
- Detailed summaries that cover all injuries incurred and the medical treatment received, damage to vehicle and cost to repair, and any missed income due to absence at work because of the accident.
- The specific dollar amount demanded by the victim in order to resolve and close the case.
Negotiation Period for a Car Accident
This is the next stage, wherein the insurance company receives the letter. The letter may either be accepted right away to settle the case or the company may choose not to agree with the terms. This is called the negotiation period.
If the insurance company does not agree with the claim, they may make a counter offer in hopes of coming to a compromise with the victim or the party seeking compensation. The victim can decide to accept the counter offer and close the case, or proceed with a lawsuit against the alleged party to get fair compensation for their injuries and damages.
Lawsuit Filing After a Car Accident
This is the fourth stage of any car accident case. This stage is reached when the victim refuses to accept the counter offer and wishes to appeal for fair compensation. When the parties involved in the accident fail to settle on an agreed dollar amount, the case will then enter the lawsuit stage. A case is filed and handled within the court system. This doesn’t happen in most cases, as both parties involved in an accident are generally quick to settle collision cases in order to mitigate the expenses of a lengthy litigation.
A Car Accident Lawsuit and Mandated Mediation
An experienced and neutral mediator is assigned to the case in order to avoid a full trial. The mediator meets with both the parties to encourage them to settle the case amicably prior to any court appearances. In most cases, a single meeting is enough to get one of the two parties to compromise and settle on a dollar amount. In the event that both parties refuse to come to a compromise, the case proceeds towards a trial.
The Trial for a Car Accident
The case is presented in front of a jury or judge for it to be resolved. All information and testimonies is presented to the judge to help him or her make a decision and pass a verdict.
Appeal Process After a Car Accident
This is an optional stage, where the dissatisfied party is allowed to appeal the ruling. This appeal may not be approved, unless legal errors made during the trial are spotted.
If you or somebody you know has been in a car accident and is seeking compensation for the injuries and damages caused due to an accident, simply contact the attorneys at Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. You can call 561-687-5660 for an appointment to discuss your case. We will be by your side through every stage of this process from investigation to appeal, and ensure you get the right compensation for your losses.