Taking a car accident to court represents a significant cost. As the plaintiff, the one demanding compensation for injuries received, taking steps to avoid a court appearance can increase the amount of money that you receive in your settlement by reducing court costs and other fees. Insurance companies and other parties involved in the accident will likely want to limit their costs by resolving the matter outside of court as well, so it can be an attractive alternative to going to court. Before you go down the path of resolving a case outside of court, you should understand the terminology of negotiations.
The Demand Letter
A demand letter is a letter you send to an insurance company or to the person responsible for an accident in which you state how much money you wish the party to pay to cover your injuries and suffering. The demand letter is an opener to negotiations, so while you should carefully detail the injuries you received and the suffering you have waded through, you should demand more money than you would reasonably accept. An insurance company will typically respond with a low ball offer, which you should deny with a response letter which drops the amount of money that you demand. Thus, you negotiate back and forth until you arrive at a payment that you feel comfortable with.
Negotiations do not always work out, and when they don't, you still have other options before you go to court. For example, you could take your case to a legal mediator. During the process of mediation, both parties should agree to abide by the decision of the mediator, who will review the facts of the case and determine how much the plaintiff should receive for damages.
Whether you arrive at a settlement through negotiations or mediation, insurance companies will typically require that you sign a legal release before they pay. A release states that you will no longer pursue payment for your accident. If you have arrived at a satisfactory resolution for your case, you should have no legal reason to demand more payments, so you lose nothing by signing the form. Instead, you should look at it as a legal formality that you must comply with before you receive your compensation.
It is often possible to settle a car accident case outside of court. Negotiations and mediation are important components of the litigation process and can be used to the advantage of both the injured party and the insurance company. Still, the nuances of negotiation and mediation will be foreign to a layperson, so you should look for an experienced car accident lawyer to guide you through the process. Contact a firm like Davidson Law Center Inc for more information.