As mentioned above, an experienced auto accident attorney handles personal injury claims daily and knows how to work with insurance companies to get you the best settlement offer possible. However, you may still be wondering what steps an auto accident attorney will take once you have retained them as your representation. While every accident has a different set of circumstances, there are common procedures and litigation benchmarks that you can expect of the attorney working on your case.
- Collecting the Evidence: After you have retained your attorney, they will begin collecting all of the evidence of your case. This includes your statement of the details of the accident, your medical records and bills, the police report, and witness statements. If the other party in the accident has also retained legal representation, your attorney will establish communication with their attorney. Your attorney may also revisit the scene of the accident and take photos of the location for evidence. In some cases, your attorney may contact experts who can provide further insight into your case.
- Send the Demand Letter: Once your auto accident attorney has compiled all of the evidence, they will draft and send a demand letter to the insurance company or the at-fault party’s attorney. A demand letter is a professional document that outlines the facts of the case, as well as damages. First, your attorney will outline the economic damages you suffered due to the accident. Economic damages refer to current and future medical costs, damage to your property, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. Non-economic damages refer to pain and suffering and mental anguish. Both are an important part of the settlement negotiation. The demand letter will conclude with the settlement amount your attorney is requesting on your behalf. The insurance company may agree to the settlement, negotiate for a lower settlement amount, or reject the offer.
- Filing a Lawsuit: If your attorney and the insurance company are unable to agree on a settlement, your lawyer will begin filing the necessary paperwork to take your case to trial.
- Discovery: After a lawsuit has been filed, both parties will enter into a period called discovery. During discovery, attorneys from both sides will share all of the documentation related to the accident they have gathered in order to look for evidence that supports their claim.
- The Trial: If your case is not settled during any of the above litigation steps, your attorney will go to trial, and your settlement amount will be determined by a judge or jury. The phases of a trial are the same for each case. First, attorneys will select a jury unless your case is to be decided by a judge. Once a jury has been established, each attorney will deliver an opening statement, followed by witness testimony, cross-examinations, and finally, closing arguments. Then, the judge will give instructions to the jury regarding applicable laws and how they should determine a verdict. Finally, the jury will deliberate and return with a verdict.
Most car accident cases are settled outside of court, but that doesn’t mean that you should accept a lower settlement offer than you originally asked for. This is why you want an experienced auto accident attorney to represent you.
Negotiation is a particular skill that many people do not possess. Ali Awad is a competent and fair negotiator, but he isn’t afraid to go to court on behalf of his clients to get them the maximum settlement for their injuries and losses.