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Do most automobile accident cases settle before I must file a lawsuit?

Car Accident Settlement Statement PaperworkIn most cases, the answer to this question is yes. In fact, most insurance companies will be anxious to settle quickly and may even offer you what seems like an adequate settlement immediately following the crash. However, we recommend that you never accept a settlement offer that quickly and, if there are any complicating factors, you hire a lawyer and take the time to negotiate a fair settlement. In some cases, this may even mean filing a lawsuit and going to trial.

What Factors Can Complicate a Car Accident Claim?

Not all car accident cases are cut and dried. When fault is in dispute or catastrophic injuries are involved, the case becomes much more complicated. If you as the victim are not being treated fairly, the only way to settle your case may be through a lawsuit and possibly even a trial. Some factors that can complicate your car crash claim include the following:

  • Serious injuries. If the plaintiff suffered catastrophic injuries, such as brain damage, paralysis, or limb amputation, the ultimate cost of treatment and recovery will not be known for some time. These kinds of injury also require long-term or life-long care. In most situations, these cases should not be settled out of court.
  • Fault is in dispute. If fault for the crash was not assigned by the police, or it was determined to be shared fault, a trial may be necessary to resolve the dispute. A judge or jury will assign a percentage of fault to one or both parties, which will affect how compensation is distributed.
  • Amount of compensation is in dispute. If the insurance company for the at-fault driver rejects the settlement amount demanded by the plaintiff, it may have to go to a jury to decide. When large dollar amounts are involved, most insurance adjusters will reject the initial demand in an attempt to lower the settlement.

When an Early Settlement May Be to Your Advantage

An early settlement may be acceptable if your injuries are not serious and the at-fault party makes a fair offer. The biggest advantage to this is that you will have money in your pocket quickly. Another advantage is that you will not risk running out of time under Indiana’s statute of limitations. You have two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit in Indiana, which is plenty of time in most cases. However, if you are waiting for a full physical recovery in order to know how much your damages are worth, you could come close to the deadline.

The attorneys at Keller & Keller would be happy to discuss your case and help you determine your best course of action.