Do I have to file a lawsuit to get compensation after a car accident?

You were badly injured in an Albuquerque car crash that wasn’t your fault. You know that the other driver’s insurance company should pay your medical bills and Injured Woman Talking to a Lawyerother losses, but does that mean you have to file a lawsuit and go to court?

Usually—no. Most car accident claims settle before a lawsuit needs to be filed. However, there are situations that can complicate a claim and require you to go to court to get the compensation you need. When you work with a personal injury attorney from day one, you can be sure that everything will be done to negotiate for the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party’s insurance company without filing a lawsuit. But if negotiations fail, your attorney will be ready to fight it out in court.

What Factors Can Complicate a Claim?

People are often confused about the difference between an insurance claim and a lawsuit after a serious vehicle crash. To clarify—the first step you would take after another driver’s negligence caused a crash that left you injured is to file a claim with their insurance company. When debilitating injuries and high medical costs are involved, it’s smart to work with an attorney to file the claim. An attorney will present evidence of the other driver’s negligence and write a demand letter that spells out the value of your claim. This includes medical evidence of your injuries and an accounting of your present and future financial losses. If your attorney can present a strong claim, the insurance company will likely come to an agreement at this point.

However, if the insurance company’s lawyers dispute some aspect of the claim, they might refuse to settle, and your attorney will have to file a lawsuit so that a court can decide. Potential complicating factors include:

  • Fault. If there is any question about how the crash occurred or who was at fault, the insurance company is not likely to agree to your lawyer’s terms. If they think they can prove that you were even partially to blame for the accident, they will not settle the claim without major concessions. If they do not agree to fair terms, your attorney can sue and present his case to a court.
  • High-value claim. If you suffered catastrophic injuries in the crash, your medical bills, lost wages, and lost earning potential are likely to be extremely high. The insurance company will probably not agree to compensate you for the true value of your claim, so your attorney will take it to a judge to decide.
  • Permanent injuries. Traumatic brain injury, paralysis, loss of a limb, or another injury causing permanent disability will require a lifetime of treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care. An insurance company is not likely to agree to cover the cost of this kind of care without court intervention.
  • Third-party liability. If an entity other than the driver shares liability for the crash, a lawsuit is probably unavoidable. To get a municipality, commercial trucking company, rideshare company, vehicle manufacturer, or another potentially liable party to compensate you, your attorney will likely have to sue them.

Nobody wants a car accident insurance claim to turn into a lawsuit, but you want an attorney by your side who will prepare for this possibility from the day they take your case and who will fight for you until the bitter end.

What Keller & Keller Will Do for You

When you contact our Albuquerque law firm after a serious car accident, you can trust that we always have your best interests in mind. If we think you can file a claim and get a fair settlement from the at-fault driver without our help, we will tell you upfront. If we think our involvement will add significant value to your settlement, we will explain how. Finally, if we believe you will only get what you deserve by filing a lawsuit, we will handle the entire process. Our initial consultations are always free, so you have nothing to lose by contacting us to discuss your recent car accident today. We are here for you.

 

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller