A car accident victim might be entitled to a settlement paid by an insurance company. Two general types of claims are filed with the insurance company: vehicle damage and personal injury. The insurance company assigns an adjuster to evaluate and settle these claims. If a lawyer is retained by the claimant, the lawyer advocates on the claimant's behalf. The following discusses various principles of a car accident settlement.
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A collision claim is insurance coverage for the claimant's vehicle. A claim is filed with claimant's automobile insurance company. After an estimate of repairs is completed by an adjuster, the insurance company will issue a settlement check for resolution of the collision claim. This car accident settlement is subject to a deductible, which the claimant pays.
The claimant can file a claim for vehicle damage through the at-fault driver's insurance company. Rather than using the claimant's personal collision coverage, a claimant sometimes might elect to go through the at-fault person's insurance company in order to escape the deductible charges. The car accident settlement is typically 100 per cent of the estimate of damages. However, if the claimant is judged by the insurance company to be partially at fault for the accident, a percentage of the claimant's fault will be deducted from the overall car accident settlement.
Personal Injury -- Settlement without Court
If a claimant is injured in a car accident, the claimant can file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company for pain and suffering. After the insurance company evaluates the injury claim, a settlement offer is extended to the claimant. The claimant has the opportunity to accept or reject the car accident settlement offer. If the claim cannot be resolved, the claimant can elect to proceed to court and have a trial verdict decide the value of the personal injury claim.
Personal Injury -- Other Forms of Settlement Opportunities
If the personal injury claim cannot be resolved, reaching a car accident settlement might be achieved through dispute resolution rather than through a trial. Dispute resolution is a consideration because, more often, it's less costly and reaches a faster conclusion. There is arbitration where, for example, a single arbitrator can ultimately decide the amount of recovery. There is also mediation, where a mediator facilitates settlement discussions between both the claimant and insurance company in a nonaggressive environment. Both avenues are popular means of reaching a car accident settlement.
Personal Injury -- Settlement Funds
Once the car accident settlement is reached, the claimant signs a release which is a written agreement to resolve the personal injury claim in exchange for a monetary settlement. The claimant has the option to resolve for a lump sum amount of compensation or through a structured settlement. The lump sum amount is paid by a settlement check. If an attorney is involved, the attorney is usually listed as a payee. If a structured settlement is pursued to resolve the car accident settlement, the claimant elects to receive monthly payments over a period of time with tax advantages.
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