Five Things to Remember When Negotiating a Car Accident Claim

car insurance claim

Getting in a car accident is a scary experience.  When you add the stress of having to negotiate and file a claim on the accident on top of that experience (and any injuries incurred), then you’ve got a real nightmare on your hands!  But, with a little preparation and advice, it doesn’t have to be.  Here’s what you should know:

The Five Elements of a Claim

A vehicle injury claim involves a series of negotiations between you and the driver-at-fault’s insurance company.  The goal of these negotiations is simple – to get you, the claimant, the highest possible settlement.

Before you jump into negotiations, you must first understand that claims adjusters are expert negotiators; they will use their expertise and terminology to try to confuse you in hopes that you’ll accept a lower settlement.  These proceedings may seem intimidating, but once you understand the process and terminology, you’ll be ready for action.

As long as you are armed with the understanding of these five elements, you can throw the adjuster off of his game by showing that you are prepared and ready for aggressive negotiations on your vehicle injury claim:

Define the other driver’s duty of care:

All drivers operating a motor vehicle have a legal duty to drive safely.  If one drives recklessly, that duty has been breached.  If, for example, a driver is safely observing all traffic signals, driving without distraction, and watching out for other drivers and pedestrians, that driver is exercising duty of care.

Establish how the driver breached that duty:

If a driver consciously fails to drive safely, and that failure results in injury to others, that driver has breached his or her legal duty of care.

If a driver makes a U-Turn in the middle of an intersection where U-Turns are not permitted and hits another vehicle that has the right of way, the driver making the illegal U-Turn has disobeyed traffic laws and breached his or her duty of care.

Determine negligence:

Negligence does not include the intention to do harm; harm is usually the result of carelessness.  If a driver breaches his or her duty of care and causes injury to others, the cause of the breach is usually a result of the driver’s lack of care.

For example, if that same driver who made the illegal U-Turn was also texting while driving, that driver was distracted and didn’t look for traffic signs.  It was this lack of care that led to the crash; the driver did not intentionally crash into another vehicle.

Prove liability:

Liability is taking responsibility for one’s actions.  Once you have established negligence, you must prove liability.

Sometimes, liability can be lessened due to outside forces such as mechanical failure.  In such a case, if one tried to slam on his brakes in order to avoid a collision but the brakes failed due to an electrical error, liability may be shared between the negligent driver and the manufacturer.

Verify your damages:

Damages include personal injury as well as property damage incurred during an accident.  Such damages can be verified through police reports, medical bills, physician records, repair estimates, etc.

Incorporating These Elements and How to Proceed

It is important that you understand these elements and how they are connected before you speak with a claims adjuster.  In order to effectively negotiate your claim, you must know the elements of your accident backwards and forwards; memorize all of the details and keep them mentally organized for easy recollection.

Remember, a duty of care exists for all drivers.  In most vehicle injury claims, if that duty has been breached by another driver then negligence has occurred, and liability will be assigned to the driver at fault.

These are the basic elements of any vehicle injury claim; arm yourself with their understanding and you will be prepared to enter into settlement negotiations.

If you have been involved in a car accident, DO NOT WAIT. You need to prepare quickly to begin negotiating your settlement. Contact the skilled and proven team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC today at (601) 948-1600 for a free initial consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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