Car Accident Settlement Process in Los Angeles, California
The financial and personal costs of a car accident can be shocking. Victims injured in California car accident victims are often left with expensive medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and other unexpected losses. Is there a way to lessen the burden?
Yes. A full and fair car accident settlement can provide victims with the money they need moving forward in life.
However, recovering a reasonable settlement is not guaranteed and does not happen overnight. A Los Angeles car accident attorney from Custodio & Dubey LLP can explain the settlement process to you in a free consultation. Call or contact us today to get started.
Car Accident Settlement Process in Los Angeles
The path to a satisfactory settlement is paved with many steps. A car accident lawyer can guide you through the entire settlement process, starting with:
- Free consultation: First, you need to learn whether you have a case. At Custodio & Dubey LLP, all initial consultations are free. We’ll listen to your story to determine whether you have a valid case for compensation.
- Gathering evidence: If your case moves forward, you’ll need solid evidence to prove your claim. Police accident reports, medical records, witness accounts, photos from the accident scene, and other evidence can tell the story of what happened and who should be held liable. If you are partly to blame for the crash, you’ll want a lawyer to investigate the case closely. Minimizing your degree of fault can help maximize the value of your settlement.
- Demand letter: Once you’ve collected the proof needed to establish your case, your car accident lawyer can draft a demand letter spelling out the facts of the case, your injuries, the costs you incurred, and ask for a specific amount of money that you should receive for your combined losses. Be aware that this amount is a starting point for negotiations and not necessarily what you should expect to receive.
- Negotiations: Your car accident lawyer will work to negotiate for a fair settlement offer. This process can be lengthy and contentious, especially if you’ve asked for a significant sum. Be patient. Insurance companies often stall during settlement negotiations in the hopes of getting claimants to settle for less out of frustration or desperation.
- Signing the settlement agreement: Once you and your attorney agree on a fair settlement offer, you’ll sign the settlement agreement. This agreement generally releases the insurance company and the other driver from any further legal action. Be sure to read the agreement thoroughly with a lawyer before signing it.
- The insurer issues a check: Even after you sign a settlement agreement, it can take days or weeks to issue the check. Once you pick up your settlement from your lawyer, the process is complete.
Benefits of Settling After a Car Accident
It’s always wise to push for a settlement agreement before considering a trial. Here’s why:
- You’ll get your money sooner. You’re usually required to attempt settlement negotiations before you can bring a personal injury claim to trial. That means a trial won’t even start until those negotiations are complete. Trials themselves can also take months or years, which further increases the delay to your compensation.
- The costs are lower, so you’ll keep more of your compensation. It’s expensive to bring a case to trial, which can eat up a significant portion of the compensation you would have otherwise received.
- You don’t have to make a court appearance. Most people find going to court stressful and unpleasant. If you bring your case to trial, there will be depositions, hearings, and many other court appointments. You may be required to attend these sessions. Accepting a car accident settlement offer lets you avoid the hassle.
- Trials are unpredictable. For better or worse, you know exactly what you’ll get when you sign a settlement agreement. There’s no guarantee at trial. You might receive more than a typical settlement, or you might get nothing if the judge or jury rules against you.
Factors to Consider Before Agreeing to a Settlement
Always consult an attorney before accepting a settlement offer. Here are a few key factors to consider before signing an agreement:
- Have you reached maximum medical improvement? If not, you might need future care, which will cost you more money. Sign the settlement agreement too soon, and you might not get enough money to cover your future costs.
- Have your injuries left you unable to work? If so, your settlement agreement should account for the future income you will lose due to your injuries.
- Does the settlement account for all your losses? A crash can result in losses beyond your medical bills and lost income. California law allows car accident victims to seek compensation for pain and suffering to account for emotional anguish and lost enjoyment of life, along with other damages that don’t have a defined dollar amount. If your settlement offer does not account for these losses, you should seriously consider renegotiating.
- Has a car accident lawyer reviewed the agreement? Never sign anything from an insurer without having an attorney review it. Signing the agreement usually ends your case, so make sure you understand what you’ve agreed to and given up.
How Long Can the Settlement Process Take?
It generally takes a few months before the settlement process is complete. But depending on the strength of your evidence, the personalities of the parties involved in your claim, and other factors, it might take a year or longer before the process is complete. If the case goes to trial, it can take additional years to conclude.
How Can a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney Help Me?
The simplest, most effective way to speed up the settlement process is to get help from an attorney. At Custodio & Dubey LLP, we will:
- Gather critical evidence to support your claim and maximize your case value
- Identify all sources of compensation and liable parties involved in the collision.
- Prepare your claim and present a clear and compelling case for maximum compensation
- Represent you fiercely during settlement negotiations
- Take your case to trial, if necessary, to fight for the results you deserve
If you’ve been hurt in a Los Angeles car accident, don’t let the insurance company get away with the money you’re owed.