A traffic accident can not only ruin your day but also bring about serious consequences. If you’ve been a victim of a traffic accident, it’s difficult to know what to do next, and even more difficult to figure out how you are going to recover from your injuries. However, you do have options — such as negotiating a settlement with the insurance company — for recovering financial compensation for both short-term and long-term losses experienced as a result of your accident.
Settlements are generally a positive option in an auto accident case. By settling, you can avoid a lengthy and expensive court case, work out a compromise with the other party or their insurance company, and receive compensation more quickly and efficiently. A settlement, generally, can be faster, less expensive, and less risky than going to trial. However, there are many things to consider about the settlement process to ensure that you are getting the compensation you deserve.
The first step towards negotiating a settlement is to file a claim. Florida is a no-fault state: this means you must first file a claim with your own insurance company, which is the first source of financial compensation in an Orlando car accident.
Sometimes, the damages from an accident — the value of property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and even the pain you have had to endure — exceed what insurance legally has to pay. In these cases, a lawsuit may be an option to consider. In Florida’s no-fault system, which is designed to keep lawsuits for “small” accidents out of the courts, you cannot file a lawsuit if you have not experienced permanent injuries from the accident and the total damages are less than $10,000.
There are many different types of damages that can occur in a traffic accident. There are, of course, doctors and hospital bills, prescription costs, and medical treatment expenses that follow after a serious accident. The damage to your car or other personal property, and the mechanic’s bills that follow, are another example. If you are unable to work, you may also incur lost wages, which can be added to your potential recovery. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of previous activities are other examples of damages in a motor vehicle accident. To ensure you receive an offer that represents all of your damages, it is essential to maintain meticulous records and be able to back up your claim with specific numbers.
The Orlando settlement process is typically initiated by sending a demand letter to the insurance company. This letter sets out the facts of your case, the extent of your injuries, and the amount you are seeking as compensation. Once a claim is filed with the insurance company, you will be assigned an adjuster or other insurance professional, with whom you will communicate and negotiate. During the process of settlement negotiations, you may be presented with an offer that does not fairly and adequately address your damages; in this case, you can present a counteroffer to the insurance company. When both parties agree on a particular amount, a settlement agreement may be reached, keeping the case out of court.
Should the settlement negotiations not result in an agreement, your best bet may be to file a complaint in court. If you and your attorney have advocated for a fair settlement amount, and the insurance company refuses to accept that settlement, then litigation may be your next recourse.
Many people believe they can rely on insurance companies to settle their claims fairly, but this is often not the case. Insurance companies are out to make a profit, which can happen at the expense of what’s fair. And sometimes, the companies can engage in a slew of tactics to deny or devalue claims.
In many cases, the insurance company will undervalue a claim, and when the victim negotiates for more, they will deny the request. Often, insurance companies will say that victims haven’t provided enough documentation to support the amount they are claiming in damages. They may dispute your medical treatment or medical bills in an effort to devalue the total amount of your recovery or deny it outright.
In some cases, the company may try to force you into a premature settlement — one which will not fairly compensate you for the damages you have incurred. In others, they may delay the process until you run out of financial and emotional resources to continue challenging, which can make it difficult to hold your ground. In the instances of some particularly egregious conduct, insurance companies may even discourage you from hiring an attorney.
Speaking with an Orlando car accident lawyer early on can help you understand how to navigate the process of seeking medical care, negotiating with insurance, and, if needed, filing a lawsuit. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney will help build a strong case on your behalf. They will work up an accurate damage model, which will show the full extent of your damages to get you the best compensation possible. They will work to mitigate some of the factors that work against you.
Keep in mind that the goal of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible — and that can mean curbing your compensation for the damages you have suffered. Securing a positive outcome for your case requires leveraging knowledge and evidence to force the insurance provider to treat you fairly.
Information and education are the strongest tools you have against underhanded insurance tactics. That’s precisely why we offer a free initial case consultation here at FVF. We want all accident victims to make the best, most informed decisions about their cases. Our goal is to arm you with the knowledge and support you need to stand up to insurance providers. Contact us today to get started.
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