In up to 95 percent of cases, the United States government states that a car accident settlement is successfully reached pre-trial. Preparedness is of the utmost importance to guarantee an ideal outcome for the victim. Legal representation will assist with the paperwork, provide regular updates on the case, and act as an intermediary for the client. The client must remain patient because the process can be time consuming.
The first step involves the attorney obtaining medical records. Each medical provider is asked for a copy of records pertaining to the incident. Once the attorney requests the medical records, it can take up to six months for the provider to send the requested material. The more medical providers the client has, the longer this process can take. The settlement process may be delayed with continuing treatment. Some attorneys may prefer to wait until after treatment is complete to obtain medical records. However, extenuating circumstances are also taken into consideration.
A demand package is then put together. The demand package contains relevant photos, witness statements, police reports, medical records and bills, and a letter of demand. Putting a demand package together can take up to few months, depending on how long it takes to obtain all of the necessary components of the package.
The completed demand package is sent to the opposition’s adjuster. It may take up to six weeks before the adjuster reviews the package. If there is any missing information, the process starts all over with a request to the attorney. When all of the information is complete and correct, the negotiations begin.
The estimation of the claim is determined by three popular methods: 1) a software program, 2) through per diem, and 3) multiple of specials.
Most insurance companies use some sort of software program. The reliance on the program varies greatly. Some companies rely on it quite heavily, while others use the results more as a tool. These programs utilize special industry-acceptable algorithms to figure out estimated claim numbers. However, they do not take into account many of the human elements involved.
Multiple of specials take into account three things: 1) medical bills, 2) lost income, and 3) pain and suffering. The total estimation is then multiplied by between one and one-half and four times to generate a total. Multiple of specials can be part of another system heavily used to create a dollar figure for the lawsuit. For example, if the client incurred medical bills from an injury of $4,500 and missed one week of work costing $800, the “special” is $5,300. Depending on other circumstances, the car accident settlement could range from $7,950 (one and one-half times) to $21,200 (four times), although this is just a general explanation.
Once a deal is reached, the insurance company sends a check and a release form to the legal representation. The check is deposited, and the release presented to the client. The client signs the release so the attorney can send it back to the insurance company. At this point, the insurance company closes its files.
Before the client can receive monies from the car accident and ensuing settlement, all medical liens and attorney fees must be completely satisfied. A reputable attorney may try to negotiate a deal with the medical facilities to reduce the bills. Once the medical liens and attorneys have been paid, the client will receive payment of the remaining funds. The entire process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the factors listed.