How To Settle A Car Accident Claim Without a LawyerPosted on: November 1, 2022
More and more car accidents happen each day. That means insurance premiums go up, agents become more difficult to deal with, and the chances of being hurt financially as well as physically are also increasing.
With Florida being a no-fault state, all drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL) coverage as part of their car insurance. And for some, that might cover the extent of the damages from their car accident.
Or so it may seem.
If you opt to handle your car accident claim without an attorney, you need to be fully aware of what the process is like so you know what you’re getting yourself into and what you might be giving up.
What It’s Like To Settle a Car Accident Claim Without an Attorney
The first thing you need to do in the event of a car accident is assess your damages.
What is the value of your car and the cost to repair or replace it? What injuries did you or your passengers suffer and what’s the treatment process? Will you have to miss work because of the accident?
These are the major questions you need to answer before deciding your best course of action.
When you speak with your insurance adjuster, you’ll likely need a police report to determine who was at fault. Your adjuster will make their own assessments of the damages owed and what your insurance policy covers. For a lucky few, this may be enough to cover their losses after an accident.
If that’s not you, however, there are steps you’ll need to take to protect yourself and get what you’re owed.
If you opt to fight a car accident claim without a lawyer, you will need to gather pertinent evidence for why you’re seeking additional money.
From doctors’ notes concerning your future health to pay stubs that indicate future lost income, you’ll need to prove to your insurance adjuster (or that of the at-fault driver) that this incident has caused more damage than what their offer covers.
If there is a dispute over the fault of the accident, you’ll also need eye-witness statements to help your case. You may need to retain an accident reconstruction specialist or hire someone to download the Event Data Recorder (EDR.) You may need to be prepared to spend thousands of dollars on experts.
A lawyer is much more experienced in knowing what information is needed for a judge or arbitrator than the average person. So while it might seem simpler to handle this yourself with your insurance carrier, you could be making things harder on yourself in the short run and even hurting yourself in the long run.
Do I Need a Lawyer If No One Was Injured?
If no one was injured in your car accident, the only damages you need to assess are those to your car or any other property. While medical costs can skyrocket faster than most other costs, that doesn’t mean you should overlook property damage costs.
If your car accident causes significant damage to another vehicle, your standard property damage liability policy might not be enough.
The more damage done during an accident, the longer it may take for insurance companies to assess the claim and pay. And the longer you go without your vehicle, the more lost income you’re facing. You also may have to figure out how to get a rental vehicle.
Furthermore, just because no one is obviously injured because of the accident does not mean there will be no lingering health effects later on.
A car accident with no injuries certainly makes things easier when it comes to settling a claim, but there are still things the average person might not think about. A good car accident attorney knows to leave no stone unturned before settling.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I’m Not At Fault?
As previously mentioned, Florida is a no-fault state. That means that all drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in both PIP and PDL as part of their car insurance.
It also means that even when you are not at fault for an accident, you can file a claim with your insurance so as not to delay medical treatment or payment. However, PIP only pays 80% of your medical bills, leaving you to resolve the remaining 20% on your own. You also need to make sure if health insurance pays anything that they are reimbursed. If you are on a government health program and fail to reimburse the insurer, you may lose coverage.
But it doesn’t mean that you’ll be taken care of just because you’re not at fault and you’re filing with your own insurance. The insurance company is always going to be looking out for itself first and foremost.
It might be tempting to settle a car accident claim on your own if there are no obvious injuries, especially if the police report clearly states you’re not at fault. But in that same vein, a certified car accident attorney might be able to help you get a bigger settlement without costing you more.
Most importantly, a lawyer knows the importance of timing in a claim or lawsuit. Speaking with a lawyer right away will, at the very least, give you the best understanding of your case and a good idea of what you’re owed.
Find the Right Lawyer to Settle Your Car Accident Claim
Car accidents are a regular occurrence in Florida, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less traumatic when it happens to you. This interruption to your life, daily routine, and future deserves to be treated with the utmost importance.
Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is the absolute best way to ensure you get what you need and deserve.
Beers and Gordon is a certified law firm that will fight aggressively to get you what you’re owed, and we offer free consultations to give you an honest and realistic expert opinion of your case. We also work on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t have any legal fees from us until a settlement or award has occurred.
Give us a call today to get your life back on track.