Should Accept a Settlement from Another Driver’s Insurance?
You’re driving home from work, minding your own business, when suddenly someone slams into your car from behind. The other driver blames you, which is unlikely, but here is what you should do.
Exit your vehicle after getting to a safe location. Exchange paperwork such as insurance, name, license, and VIN number, etc. Do not engage in a conversation because your words later can be used against you.
Gather as much information as you can, including taking photos of the scene and the damage to your cars. This is all assuming that the damage is minor. If you have damage above $250, you should call 911 and report the accident, and the police will make a report.
Ultimately, to recover damages, you can file a claim with your insurance policy, file with the other driver’s insurance, or you can file a lawsuit.
Car Accident Settlement
In a perfect world, the driver who ran into you will admit he was not paying attention, and his insurance company will offer you a sizeable settlement to fix your vehicle, to cover your medical bills, and to compensate you for pain and suffering and lost wages.
That’s in a perfect world.
In the real world, insurance adjusters for the at-fault party will play hardball with you. They may apply the contributory negligence standard, meaning that they will claim that you contributed to your own accident and should be barred from collecting any compensation.
They can blame you for an action as insignificant as failing to use your blinker before you turned. And Alabama is one of a few states that follows the contributory negligence doctrine, which definitely does not benefit the accident victim who was not very much at fault (if at all).
Expect a low-ball offer. The insurance adjuster hopes you will take it and go away. You do not have to take it, and it is rarely a good idea to do so. A settlement is almost always negotiable, no matter what you are told.
Once you take the settlement, there is no reopening the door if your injuries eventually turn out to be more serious than you first thought.
Now is the time when the careful review of your case by an experienced, compassionate Alabama personal injury attorney can make the difference in your medical and financial future.
Filing a Legal Claim
Chip Nix, Attorney at Law, has seen the actions of the insurance adjusters over many decades. None of this comes as a surprise. They are strictly interested in paying out as little as possible to benefit their employer, the insurance company, one of the most profitable industries in our country.
Alabama is an at-fault state, meaning the driver who caused the accident (and their insurance company) must pay for the injured party’s bills. You have two years from your accident to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your injury and property damage.
Your Alabama Car Accident attorney will specify what you seek. The insurer for the at-fault party has:
- 15 days to acknowledge the claim. You should receive proof-of-loss forms which you complete about the scope of the damage and injuries.
- 30 days to decide about the claim after receiving the forms.
- 30 days to make a final payment when the claim is approved.
Altogether the insurance company for the other driver has 75 days to settle a claim after it’s filed unless the injuries are serious or involve multiple people.
The insurer may follow a reasonable schedule and offer a fair amount. If not, they are likely operating in “bad faith,” and you will need the assistance of an Alabama personal injury attorney to help you negotiate a settlement or take your case to trial.
Your Alabama Car Accident Attorney
No attorney can tell you what settlement is acceptable to you, but consider what you have lost, which may include:
- Lost property in the form of a vehicle no longer drivable
- You may have recurring nightmares about the accident
- You still suffer pain and have had to seek medical treatment, which may be ongoing
- You’ve lost time at work, putting your job in jeopardy through no fault of your own
What is this worth? What are you worth?
Attorney Chip Nix has four decades of experience applying his legal skills to convince the insurance company about the worth of your case. You should not have to pay the ongoing fees attached to your health challenges or to repair your damaged vehicle, and you should not lose days at work and the salary that represents.
Mr. Nix will review the final documents before you sign anything and be your legal representative in dealing with the insurance company. He is available for a complimentary consultation at his Montgomery office at 334-203-6669 or contact us online.