Car accidents can be devastating, both physically and financially. If you have been injured in a car accident in Cody, Wyoming, Cheyenne, Wyoming, or Casper, Wyoming, you may be entitled to compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. However, the insurance company is not always willing to pay what you deserve. This is where your automobile accident lawyer comes in.
A car accident lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and this negotiation can make all the difference in your final outcome. Your lawyer will gather evidence to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident, calculate your damages, which include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and then fight for you with the insurance company to make sure you’re treated properly. Here’s how it’s done.
How Do Automobile Accident Lawyers Negotiate Settlements for Their Clients?
Step One: Gathering the Evidence
The first step in negotiating a settlement is to gather all available evidence. This evidence can include medical records, police reports, witness statements, video evidence, and accident reconstruction reports. The evidence will help the lawyer build a strong case for you, showing what really happened and who was responsible for what. All of this evidence has a place.
Medical records, for example, are essential for proving the extent of your injuries. The records will show the nature and severity of the injuries as well as the cost of treatment and the potential outlook for you. Police reports describe the accident and the circumstances leading up to it, and police are trained to evaluate the positions of the vehicles and make judgments about what really happened. In many cases, a police officer will be able to tell what actually happened even if the other driver is baldly lying.
The police report may also include statements from witnesses, and these statements can be very helpful. If a witness saw the accident, their statement can help to establish who was at fault. The same goes for any video evidence that may be available, from dash cams or the cameras of nearby homes, businesses, or even ATMs. Finally, accident reconstruction reports can be used to determine the cause of the accident. The report will show how the accident happened and what factors contributed to it.
Step Two: Building a Strong Case
Automobile accident lawyers will use the evidence to show who was at fault for the accident, the full and complete extent of your injuries, and the impact the injuries have had on your life. From this, your lawyer will calculate your “damages.” Damages are the legal term for a monetary award that is intended to compensate you for losses you have suffered as a result of another person’s wrongful act. In the context of a car accident, damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, money spent on things like childcare or housekeeping while you were recovering, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Medical expenses should include all the costs of treating the injuries sustained in the accident. This can include hospital bills, doctor’s fees, ambulance fees, follow-up physical therapy, and prescription medications. Lost wages are the income you’ve lost because you are unable to work due to injuries, and these can also include things like lost opportunities for overtime.
Pain and suffering is a term that refers to the emotional and physical pain that a person experiences as a result of their injuries. Property damage is the damage to your car or other property that was caused in the accident. All these damages will be calculated together by your lawyer and used in negotiations.
Step Three: Reaching Out to the Insurance Company
The next step is to communicate with the insurance company. Your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf of the client, sending them a letter to let them know the full extent of your damages and claim.
The insurance company is likely to start by offering a lowball offer, but don’t panic. This is normal. If the insurance agency refuses the first offer, this is why having a lawyer is so important. Your lawyer is on your side, but he or she is not as emotionally involved as you are. That makes your lawyer able to calmly pursue the negotiations without being angry or frustrated, which only make it more difficult to reach a settlement.
In some cases, your lawyer may need to gather more evidence to support your claim. This evidence can include further medical records or expert opinions from doctors or other professionals who can testify about the extent of your injuries and the impact they have had on your life. Once you have gathered more evidence, you can then negotiate with the insurance company again. This time, you will be in a stronger position to argue for a higher settlement.
Step Four: Taking It To Court
If the insurance company still refuses to offer a fair settlement, you may need to file a lawsuit. This is a last resort, but it may be necessary if the insurance company is not willing to negotiate in good faith. It’s crucial that you have an experienced automobile accident lawyer on your side at this point, since the insurance company knows you are unlikely to go to court on your own (and will almost certainly lose if you do).
With an experienced lawyer at your side, you show the insurance company that you’re not joking around and are willing to take the final step if necessary. Most insurance companies would prefer to avoid lawsuits if they can, so knowing that you’re willing to file if they don’t play ball is a strong advantage in your negotiations.
Tips for Surviving the Negotiating Process
Before you start negotiating, gather all the evidence you have. Save everything, and send everything to your lawyer. This will help you build a strong case for your claim.
When you’re negotiating a settlement, it’s important to be realistic about what you can expect to receive. This doesn’t mean you should be afraid to negotiate for a higher amount if the insurance company tries to lowball you, though. It just means you should be prepared for some back and forth, particularly about damages like pain and suffering, which are hard to quantify monetarily.
Negotiating a settlement can take time, so be ready for this and don’t get frustrated too easily. The insurance company may be counting on that. Their initial goal may be to wear you down. They know you’ll see bills piling up and get tempted to take a lower offer just to have money on the table. Talk to your lawyer about how to deal with those bills: hospitals and other medical professionals are often willing to hold off on payment if they hear from your lawyer that you’re working on full resolution.
Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
If you’re not happy with the insurance company’s offer, and you have a strong case, don’t be afraid to walk away from the negotiation. You can always file a lawsuit if you have to, and in some situations it would be better to do that than to accept too little. Talk to your lawyer about the strength of your case and making the right decision for you. Then, trust your lawyer’s expertise.
Work With the Strongest Negotiators in Cody, Wyoming, Cheyenne, Wyoming, or Casper, Wyoming
Negotiating a car accident settlement is not easy, and there’s a lot on the line. Don’t go it alone. Contact Ochs Law Firm today to access compassionate expertise that can help you successfully negotiate for what you deserve.