Car Accident – When to Settle vs. When to Sue

When you are injured in a car accident you need someone to give you the money you need to take care of your injuries so that you can recover your health, you may also need funds to repair your vehicle, and money to cover many other expenses you are incurring as you are unable to go back to work.

What should you do?

You start by filing a car insurance claim with the insurance company of the other driver. They will review the paperwork and make you an offer. Most likely, the amount will be much lower than the number you were expecting. If, after some intense back and forth, you conclude that there does not seem to be a way to reach a fair settlement, you can either accept the amount of money offered or file a car insurance lawsuit.

Why might there be such a big gap between what you are hoping to get and the amount the insurance company is offering you?

When you come up with the amount of money you are claiming, you include some items that are easy to quantify, such as the money you have spent on medical expenses, prescriptions, and treatments. Also easy to quantify is how much your car will cost to be repaired or how much money you are losing by not being able to work. Other items, however, are much more difficult to attach a precise number to. These are pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and others.

Instead of a single amount, a range is established and your aim should be to receive an offer closer to the upper part of that range.

Accepting the Settlement or Filing a Lawsuit

Your car accident attorney can give you the best advice as to how much your case is truly worth. If your lawyer is convinced that your case is worth considerably more than the amount the insurance company is offering you, a lawsuit will be the next step.

If, on the other hand, the advice you receive is to take the money because it is very unlikely that a lawsuit would yield more, then a settlement is all you can hope for.

Filing the Lawsuit

If your lawyer has advised you that your case is worth quite a bit more than what has been offered, and after negotiations with them have reached a dead end, a lawsuit will need to be filed. However, this is not the end of the road, but the beginning of another one that can take quite a bit of time.

At this point, the insurer will no longer want to talk settlement with you. They will have to do pre-trial investigation and discovery before talking money again. Also, your own attorney’s expenses will start to pile up. This is when valuing a case accurately will make all the difference in the amount of money you receive and in deciding at what point you want to accept an offer and just walk away with what you get.

There is no need for you to become overwhelmed by this decision or by determining when to settle or when to file a lawsuit. Read to get a clearer picture and understand the legal implications of a car accident case.