Many people believe personal injury lawsuits are resolved in a dramatic court battle with opening and closing arguments, cross-examination of witnesses, and bombshell pieces of evidence (popular law-based television shows are a big culprit of this misconception). In reality, the vast majority of personal injury claims never go to court. Instead, they are resolved through a negotiated insurance settlement. If you are intimidated at the prospect of negotiating with an insurance adjuster, then consider retaining the services of an experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyer. Once you have an attorney on your side, they can take the burden of contacting the insurance company off your shoulders.
The Settlement Negotiation Process
For most personal injury law firms, the initial formal contact with an auto insurance company is a “demand letter.” This letter informs the insurer of the extent of your harms and losses and what you are demanding in terms of financial restitution. A demand letter often leads to negotiations that eventually yield an acceptable settlement.
How long settlement negotiations take is, unfortunately, a question without a definitive answer. This is because the length of time necessary to negotiate an amicable settlement depends on an array of different factors, including the strength of the evidence supporting your claim, whether or not liability is clear or contested, the amount of damages, and so forth.
Negotiations over a potential settlement may last for several months. In fact, there are instances where an insurance representative purposefully drag their feet during the negotiation phase, knowing they will eventually agree to settlement. It could even be a matter of making sure a large settlement shows up on the books in the next quarter if, for example, the company recently paid multiple claims. Remember, the insurance company is not on your side and does not care about your personal suffering and hardship stemming from the collision. Insurance companies are primarily concerned with dollars and cents.
Filing a Lawsuit
If the negotiation process drags on without progress, an experienced Virginia Beach auto accident attorney should feel comfortable and capable of filing a lawsuit. Generally, the filing of a lawsuit can help spur settlement negotiations since it is a demonstration that your attorney is serious and ready to argue your case in front of a judge and/or jury. In addition, the ensuing exchange of evidence prior to trial provides the insurance company an opportunity to grasp the strength of your personal injury case.
To learn more about settlement negotiations related to a personal injury claim, check out our in-depth legal guide.