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How Does the Car Accident Settlement Process Work?

Posted on April 4, 2021 in

After an Oregon car accident, you may have grounds to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Through these processes, you can recover compensation for medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and other damages.

How Does the Car Accident Settlement Process Work?

 

The majority of car accident claims resolve during settlement negotiations between the injured party and an insurance company or defense attorney. The settlement process can be complex, but an attorney can help you understand what to expect.

Your Legal Options After a Car Accident

Oregon is a fault accident state, which means that injured parties typically recover compensation by filing an insurance claim or lawsuit against a negligent driver. In many cases, your attorney will recommend filing an insurance claim before proceeding with a lawsuit. The litigation process is often lengthier and more expensive than an insurance claim. However, you may want to pursue a lawsuit first if your accident involves very high amounts of damages that exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits.

Settling a Claim with an Insurance Company

During the insurance process, you file a claim with the insurance company, who then assigns an adjuster to your case. The adjuster will conduct an independent investigation to determine who caused the accident. If the adjuster believes the policyholder is at fault, he or she will make a settlement offer, which you can choose to accept or reject. You can also negotiate for a higher amount if necessary.

Many car accident claims settle during the insurance process, but it is important to remember that insurance companies do not always want to provide maximum compensation. The company is responsible for paying for your damages and will likely try to reduce the amount it needs to provide. As a result, the first settlement offer you receive may not be sufficient to meet your needs. Your attorney can evaluate these offers and negotiate for more favorable terms.

Settling a Claim After Filing a Lawsuit

 If you choose not to pursue an insurance claim or are unable to reach a settlement, your case can proceed to a lawsuit. Your attorney will wait until you reach maximum medical improvement to send an initial demand letter to the at-fault driver and begin to file the lawsuit. If your lawyer does send an initial demand letter, you may enter into negotiations with the at-fault driver. You may reach a settlement agreement at this stage and your case will conclude before your attorney files the lawsuit.

However, if these initial negotiations are unsuccessful or if your attorney does not want to make the initial demand, he or she will file your lawsuit in civil court. Your case will enter the discovery stage, which may take up to one year to complete. After discovery and before trial, your attorney may consider entering into negotiations or mediation with the at-fault party. If these negotiations are successful, your case will settle at this stage. If these negotiations are unsuccessful, your case will proceed to trial.

What Happens After a Settlement?

If you reach a settlement with an insurance company or defense attorney, you will receive a settlement agreement that outlines the terms of your compensation. You will also receive a waiver of liability that prevents you from filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party for the same accident. After you sign these documents, the insurance company will write a check and send it to your attorney, who will then transfer the funds to you.

A car accident lawyer in Portland will work with you to identify your optimal pathway to maximum recovery. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.