If someone else caused a car accident that injured you, you might need a settlement to cover your medical bills, lost income, and more. It’s tough to say precisely how much you can expect from a settlement because the amount you could recover depends on your unique situation.
A car accident lawyer can help you understand the value of your claim and fight for the maximum amount you deserve.
Each car accident case is unique, so the compensation you can claim will vary depending on the circumstances.
However, many car accident victims include the following compensable losses in their settlements:
Understanding the different types of insurance coverage is useful when dealing with the aftermath of a car accident. Each of the following types of insurance serves a distinct purpose and offers specific benefits that can provide financial relief in various scenarios.
Liability insurance covers other people’s injuries, medical bills, and property damage costs when the policyholder is responsible for the accident.
In many states, the liability insurance of a driver liable for an accident will pay for the accident victim’s losses, assuming the at-fault driver has coverage. If so, you will file a claim against the at-fault party’s policy to seek compensation.
Many states require all drivers to carry specific minimum liability coverage amounts, so it’s an essential source of compensation for many crash victims.
However, some states do not require drivers to carry any liability insurance, so you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after a crash to determine your options for seeking compensation.
Personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payments (MedPay) are optional coverages that kick in when policyholders incur accident-related medical expenses. They both provide no-fault insurance coverage, which means they pay for a policyholder’s medical bills regardless of fault for an accident.
While these types of insurance are similar, PIP is slightly more robust than MedPay. In addition to medical bills, it can also compensate for income losses if your crash injuries prevent you from working. In some cases, it can even cover your deductibles for other types of insurance. However, only a few states require PIP while others make it optional, while you cannot even buy it in others.
Uninsured motorist or UM coverage is for scenarios where the at-fault driver has no insurance. UM coverage also pays for hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver flees the scene.
On the other hand, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is applicable when the other driver has insurance but not enough to cover all of your accident-related costs. In that case, UIM coverage would kick in.
Some states require drivers to purchase UM or UIM insurance, but many don’t. Always check your auto insurance policy as soon as possible after an accident to determine whether this type of coverage is available to you. It can provide significant relief when you can’t rely on the other driver’s insurance policy for compensation.
Some health insurance plans cover medical costs arising from car accident injuries. Your health insurance might cover your immediate and ongoing medical treatment if you’re in an accident. Usually, however, a person must exhaust all other coverage sources before using health insurance benefits after a car accident.
Furthermore, if your health insurance pays for your treatment, the insurer might seek reimbursement from you if you later receive a settlement from another insurance policy. This is because of the health insurance company’s right to subrogation, which is the ability to recoup what they have paid from the at-fault party.
Collision and comprehensive insurance are types of no-fault coverage that pay for vehicle damage after an accident. Collision insurance is specifically for repairs to a policyholder’s vehicle in the event of an accident with another vehicle. It may also reimburse a policyholder for the value of their vehicle if it is a complete loss due to the accident.
On the other hand, comprehensive insurance covers damage to a car due to other incidents, such as theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.
Collision insurance will allow you to repair your car without depending on another person’s insurance policy, which might be unavailable or insufficient in certain situations.
On the other hand, comprehensive insurance helps pay for unexpected non-collision incidents that damage your vehicle. After such events, you can file a claim against your collision insurance to cover the costs of vehicle repairs.
The time it takes to receive a settlement after a car accident can vary considerably. It often depends on the complexity of the case, who is at fault, and the extent of the injuries.
If the fault is apparent and your injuries are relatively minor, a settlement could arrive quickly, sometimes within a few weeks. However, if the wreck causes serious injuries or there is a dispute over who is at fault, it could take much longer.
Negotiations with insurance companies often prolong the process. Insurance adjusters review all available details after an accident, which can take time, especially if they challenge the claim. Litigation can add even more time. If you file a car accident lawsuit, resolving your claim could take months or even years.
Each party’s willingness to cooperate also affects the timeline for your settlement. If everyone cooperates and agrees on the settlement, a resolution may come about more quickly. However, protracted negotiations will likely extend the timeline if either side disagrees with the determination of fault or the settlement amount.
In general, you can expect to wait a few months to a year for most settlements to conclude, but remember that every case is different. Your attorney can provide the best estimate based on the specifics of your case.
Instead of a speedy settlement, allow your lawyer to address every aspect of your case so you receive a fair payout rather than accepting a low-ball offer.
After you reach a settlement for a car accident, you generally have two options to collect your money: a lump sum payment or a structured settlement.
With a lump sum payment, you receive all your money at once. This is the more straightforward option – once you sign the agreement and the insurance company processes it, they issue a check for the appropriate amount. You get the full settlement quickly, which is helpful if you have immediate expenses.
A structured settlement is different. Instead of getting all your money at once, you receive it in a series of payments over time. You can set up these payments to come monthly, yearly, or at other specified intervals. Many people like this method because it provides a steady income stream and possible tax benefits.
To start collecting your settlement money, you sign the agreement from the insurance company. Then, the insurer will process the payment according to the terms you both accepted.
For lump sum payments, the check usually arrives within a few weeks. For structured settlements, you will start receiving the payments per your schedule, which could be almost immediately or set for a future date.
Your personal injury lawyer will guide you through every step of this process, ensuring the insurance company follows through on your settlement agreement. They will also review the settlement terms carefully before you agree to anything to ensure the deal will meet your ongoing and future needs.
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