Anyone who is involved in a car accident knows how difficult it can be to pursue the at-fault driver for damages in the court system. What many people may not realize until it is too late is that with most car accidents, the driver who caused the accident will not necessarily need to obtain a lawyer. That’s because his or her insurance company will be part of it. Fighting an insurance company can be a long and drawn-out process. It leads many victims of reckless drivers to settle their cases for far less than they need to cover the damage from the accident. There are a few things to know before settling a personal injury lawsuit, especially if the accident was caused by a drunk driver.
The Settlement Game
As heartless as it may sound, settlement negotiations after a car accident are often merely part of a larger strategy. This may be by an insurance company to minimize the amount of money for which their client is liable. It is a game during which there will be behind-the-scenes discussions of cost/benefit analysis. This analysis will take into account how expensive it may be to take a case to trial versus what a victim will take for his or her claim to put things behind them. What many accident victims also fail to take into account is that some types of settlements are taxable and some are not.
While paying taxes is a factor over which the insurance company has no control (as it is within the purview of the IRS), what may be a point of discussion during negotiations is what form any settlement amounts may take. It is how the settlement is characterized (i.e. compensatory or punitive damages) that may affect whether a settlement amount is or is not taxable.
Just the Facts
Each case involving a car accident is different, and they should determine the facts of a particular situation as well as what a fair settlement amount should be. In order to be prepared for settlement discussions, it is best for a victim to be well-versed in the facts of the situation. That is only possible by knowing what evidence there is to support their recollection of events. People who witnessed the accident and what they reported seeing should be reviewed. And if a fault determination was made in police report that should be considered as well.
In cases where a drunk driver caused an accident, the police department is responsible for investigating the accident. They should have information with regard to the reckless driver’s blood alcohol content and other evidence from the accident scene. Bringing facts and evidentiary support to settlement negotiations can give an accident victim the leverage that is important to obtain a settlement offer. This will fairly compensate them for the losses they incurred from the accident.
While it is not necessary to obtain a lawyer to negotiate a settlement agreement after a car accident, it is important to have all the information you need to make a knowledgeable decision. The professionals at the Thompson Law Firm, PLLC are standing by with answers to any questions you may have about settlement and your legal rights after a car accident.