After you’ve suffered trauma and injury in a car accident, you may feel like hiring a lawyer will add undue stress and financial burden to your already heavy load. You’d prefer to deal directly with the insurance company and agree to a settlement on your own. Although a lawyer may prove beneficial in settling your car accident claim in Indiana, legally you’re able to settle your claim on your own.
However, if you choose to settle your claim without a lawyer, you should prepare yourself for the process.You’ll need to file all legally required documents in a timely manner. You may need to spend hours on the phone with any involved insurance companies, and in some cases you may be required to meet in person for mediation. Regardless, a consultation with a seasoned car accident lawyer may prove beneficial.
You should become familiar with the necessary steps to gather evidence in support of your car accident claim and research the different aspects of the claim you file. In other words, do you have a valid claim to both economic and non-economic damages?
If you agree to an offered settlement but later find that you have incurred greater financial hardship as a result of your collision, you cannot file another claim. It’s important to note that large insurance companies who are reluctant to settle your claim may either give you the run around or offer a settlement quickly. Do your due diligence and research Indiana insurance laws and what monetary amount you may be owed. This will help you to discern when to settle.
You may face obstacles in the settlement process if you don’t hire an Indiana car accident lawyer. Here’s a basic overview of what to expect and the steps to take if you choose to settle your claim without a lawyer.
Indiana car accident statistics
Every year in the U.S., car accidents incur $55 billion in monetary damages. Annually, close to 5 million people suffer injuries in collisions, and in Indiana, close to 5,000 injuries occur in car accidents. In 2021, there were over 45,000 traffic citations issued in Indiana.
You can’t prepare for or anticipate a car accident, but both national and state statistics prove that they occur frequently. You may find yourself the victim of a car accident at some point in time.
Auto insurance coverage rates continue to increase, and in 2022 alone, insurance premium costs rose by 4.9 percent. The raising of insurance rates stems from both inflation and the influx of vehicles operating on U.S. roads. Insurance companies can afford to pay your car accident claim — but they may not willingly offer the settlement you deserve.
If you decide to negotiate your settlement without a car accident lawyer, you should contact the insurance company to file your claim to begin the journey toward reaching a just settlement.
In Indiana, there’s a statute of limitations on car accident claims. You must file your claim within two years of the date of your accident. Thus, it’s vital you begin the claims process in the immediate aftermath of your car accident.
The steps before you settle a car accident claim
Before you even file your car accident case, you need to take steps to strengthen the merits of your claim. It’s a good idea to keep a checklist to ensure you’ve gathered necessary documentation and correctly commenced the claims process.
File a police report
Indiana state law mandates that you remain on the scene of your car accident until you’ve exchanged insurance and contact information with the other involved drivers. If your vehicle has sustained at least $1,000 in damages, state law requires you to file a police report as well. You can call 911 from the scene of your accident, or you can file your report online.
Seek medical attention
If you suffer any injuries in your car accident, you should see a doctor immediately. To make a valid personal injury claim in South Bend, for instance, the insurance company will need documentation of all related doctor’s visits, prescriptions, procedures, and treatments. Any medical diagnoses you receive can help you determine the validity of the insurance company’s settlement offer.
Calculate your damages
If you choose to settle your car accident claim without a lawyer, you need to know what financial compensation you can seek. Insurance companies may come to you with a lower offer than you deserve, and it’s important to note that Indiana mandates monetary caps on some types of settlements.
A settlement for a car accident may include two types of damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.You’ll need to gather your accident-related medical bills and predict all future medical costs incurred as a result of your accident. If you’ve missed any work and had to take unpaid time off, this would fall under lost wages. Any vehicle repair bills or rental car fees will fall under property damage.
Non-economic damages can include the pain and suffering you’ve endured, which is calculated by the severity of your injuries and any impact your injuries have caused on your quality of life. Diagnosable emotional distress such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD also falls under this category.
It’s important to note that the larger the settlement you seek, the more the insurance company is apt to avoid a just payout. This is particularly true in cases involving trauma and injury in a car accident claim in Indianapolis, where the stakes are high due to the severity of the injuries involved. Once you’ve accepted a settlement, you have legally given up your rights to future claims from your accident, which is why it is crucial to ensure the settlement reflects the full extent of your injuries and the impact on your life.
On the other hand, if you’ve suffered significant injuries in a rental car accident, the complexity of your case increases, as does the need for a specialized legal approach. In such instances, hiring a rental car accident attorney in Indianapolis can be a strategic move. An experienced attorney will fight to secure a settlement that accounts for liability, injuries, and long-term consequences, including any necessary accommodations for a changed lifestyle. With their help, you can confidently navigate the legal process, knowing your rights are vigorously defended.
File your claim and prepare for negotiations
The good news is car accident claims settle rather quickly, whereas an accident lawsuit may take months or even years to settle. On average, most car accident claims are settled within 10.7 months, and 39 percent of claim payouts are received within three months.
Most insurance companies require you to follow your claim within 30 days of your accident. You’ll receive a claim number for reference and will need to communicate with the claims adjuster assigned to your case. The adjuster may ask you for records of your bills and any medical treatment you’ve received. You may even be required to meet with an insurance agent so they can assess your damages.
When to hire a car accident lawyer
You may find that the stress of negotiating with the insurance company is overwhelming. In Indiana, you can file your car accident claim without a lawyer. However, if the settlement you’re offered doesn’t cover the emotional, financial, and physical hardship you’ve suffered, the right car accident lawyer can help.
A lawyer can represent you in any negotiations and can help you correctly calculate what you’re owed. If you choose to decline the offered claim settlement and file a lawsuit against an insurer, you may need an attorney to help you navigate your legal path to compensation.
At Yosha Law, we are passionate about our clients, and consider them part of our family. We can help you after your car accident and will fight for what you’re owed.
We also offer an initial free case evaluation where we can help you explore the merits of your case. We will stand beside you and support you on your journey toward recovery.