How a car accident settlement works may depend on the state you live in and its specific regulations. For example, after a car accident in Los Angeles, California Rules of Court §3.1380 require you to have a least one negotiation session with the at-fault driver or their legal or insurance representative.
When you are preparing to resolve your car accident compensation claim without going to court, your lawyer may advise you to take the following important steps:
- Prove the at-fault driver’s negligence and fault
- Define the financial value of your compensation claim
- Read and review the at-fault driver’s insurance policy
- Carefully evaluate each settlement offer you receive
- Review each offer with a personal injury team member
While a lawyer might advise you on the feasibility of each offer you receive, you will make the final decision. An acceptable settlement might be reached at any point in the compensation process, even if your case has already gone to court.
Once you decide to accept a settlement offer, you will sign documents agreeing not to seek any further financial compensation. If you cannot reach a mutually agreeable settlement, your compensation claim may proceed to court.
What May Happen if You Cannot Reach a Settlement Agreement
In the event that you and the at-fault driver cannot resolve your claim with an out-of-court settlement, you might have to keep fighting for financial recovery in court. If that happens, your legal team may explain the following steps involved in taking your claim to court:
- You are the plaintiff in a pending lawsuit
- The at-fault driver is now the defendant
- You may each have a legal representative
- Each side may request written statements
- Each side might also conduct verbal depositions
- Each side may gather accident evidence and facts
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), personal injury claims are usually resolved out of court, so the above process may not be the case for you.
Your Legal Team May Help You Maintain Your Ability to Go to Court
Like many car accident victims, you may prefer to resolve your car accident claim with an out-of-court settlement. To maintain your ability to do so, your legal team may file a lawsuit on your behalf even while settlement negotiations are ongoing because your ability to file a lawsuit is a time-sensitive matter.
If the time allotted to file a lawsuit is overlooked or expired, you might inadvertently relinquish your ability to file at all. If you manage to file a lawsuit after the filing deadline has expired, the at-fault driver may request and receive an immediate dismissal of your lawsuit.
Generally, according to California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1, your personal injury lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. The lawyer who represents you may use your car accident report and other relevant paperwork to establish the date of the accident and to ensure your potential lawsuit is filed in compliance with the statute of limitations.
Determine the Monetary Value of Your Potential Settlement
When another driver’s negligence leads to a car accident, you might have the basis of a personal injury compensation claim. According to California Civil Code (CIV) §1431.2, you may be able to recover the following economic and non-economic financial damages in a personal injury claim:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future lost income
- Vehicle damage or destruction
- Necessary household assistance
- Physical pain and suffering
- Physical disability or impairment
- Emotional pain and suffering
When your legal team is ready to start assessing the monetary value of your claim, they may request your medical bills, details about your prognosis, vehicle repair bills, vehicle replacement values, proof of income statements, tax records, and other financial documents. Comply with any requests for these documents right away. Your legal team may use them to help prove the amount of your post-accident financial damages.
Let Our Personal Injury Team Advocate for You
After a car accident, our legal team might help you effectively navigate the car accident process and learn more about how a car accident settlement works. If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, our personal injury team is ready to go to work on your behalf. Contact Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices at (866) 559-7223 to find out how hard our team can fight for a favorable settlement for you.