You are undoubtedly feeling overwhelmed if you were recently injured in a car accident.
Car accident injuries can mean mounting medical bills, lost wages, and car repair costs.
You may be looking to recover your out-of-pocket expenses and get back on your feet but are unsure how to negotiate a car accident settlement.
Don’t worry; we are here to help. Below we provide three helpful tips on how to negotiate a car accident settlement.
Gather Evidence for a Strong Claim
After the initial shock wears off and you get emergency medical treatment, it is time to think about gathering essential evidence to build a strong claim.
This can be a variety of things, including:
- Photos and videos from the accident scene,
- Medical records and bills,
- Car repair or replacement estimates,
- Police reports,
- Eyewitness statements,
- Records of wages, and
- Surveillance video.
High-quality evidence that reflects how an injury has impacted your life will help strengthen your claim.
Understand North Carolina’s Contributory Negligence Law
North Carolina is a contributory negligence state which means if you are found to contribute any fault to the accident, even as little as 1%, you could be barred from recovering any damages. To minimize their liability, the other driver’s insurance company will try to show you were negligent in some way and contributed to the accident. Contributory negligence is a strict doctrine and can be challenging to navigate independently. If you have filed a claim and the insurance company alleges you were at fault, you should immediately contact a seasoned accident attorney.
Consult with a Car Accident Attorney
Consulting with a car accident lawyer for advice, guidance, and representation is always a good idea. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you on your best course of action. Sometimes negotiating a settlement early on is not in your best interest. Why? Because you have not fully healed, and you may not know the true value of your claim right away. And this is when the insurer might jump in and throw out a lowball offer. Often, the insurer extends this offer to make your case go away quickly and cheaply, and it can be tempting to grab the money when you are swimming in medical bills. Unfortunately, if you accept such an offer, you can never return for more. This could leave you without funds to pay your medical or other related bills in the future.
Why Should You Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
You are not required to hire an attorney after a car accident. However, we always recommend hiring an attorney as soon as possible.
The repercussions of a car accident can be far-reaching, and insurance claims and litigation can be more complicated and complex than you might think. First, it is essential to remember that the responsible driver’s insurance company has their best interest in mind, not yours. That means they might deny your claim or try to pay as little as possible.
While it is pretty straightforward to prove economic damages (i.e., medical costs and lost wages) by providing receipts and records, proving non-economic damages such as pain and suffering can be more complicated.
How to Negotiate a Pain and Suffering Settlement
Pain and suffering damages, like other non-economic damages, are subjective and unique to you. Therefore, it can be challenging to assign these losses a monetary value. When negotiating pain and suffering damages, the parties will consider several factors, including:
- The severity of the injury;
- The recovery time it took for the injury to heal;
- Your age;
- Your overall health;
- The limitations you experience from the injury in your daily life; and
- The impact on your social life (e.g., negative impact on relationships with family and friends).
You may be entitled to both past and future pain and suffering damages, but negotiating fair compensation can be tricky. It is best to have an experienced lawyer negotiate on your behalf.
In addition, you generally have only three years from the accident date to pursue legal action in North Carolina. By speaking to a lawyer early on, you are ensuring you preserve your legal rights.
North Carolina Car Accident Attorney
If you are wondering how to negotiate a car accident settlement, the Law Offices of Naomi Ellis, PLLC, can help. We are a boutique law firm where your case will not just be passed off to a paralegal or secretary. Our attorney handles each case from start to finish. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.