When you have been injured or sustained property damage in a car accident, the after-effects are time-consuming and stressful. You must get damage estimates, go for medical testing and other appointments, and figure out how to make necessary adjustments to your transportation needs and life in general. Calling an Oklahoma car accident lawyer may feel like one more hassle to put on your to-do list, making you wonder if you can just settle your claim on your own.
While you can settle a car accident without a lawyer, you will not settle it well. Settling well–getting the compensation you deserve and that you need for recovery–requires an understanding of Oklahoma’s negligence and fault laws, strong negotiating skills, and experience with the legal process. When you add one call to BDIW to your to-do list, our team of car accident lawyers will remove dozens of other items and bring you closer to a just settlement.
The Steps for Settling a Car Accident Claim
Getting a fair settlement is the result of a process. If you work without an attorney, you may get a quick settlement offer from the at-fault party’s insurance, but it will not represent the amount you deserve. While you may feel initial relief at having the insurance conversations over with, most likely, you will come to regret accepting that offer as you realize it does not adequately cover your needs.
If you refuse that first offer and decide to fight on your own, you need to follow a series of steps.
Identify the At-Fault Party
When another car hits you, you probably assume the driver of that vehicle is at fault. You might be right. Perhaps the driver was speeding or blew a stop sign, or was driving while intoxicated. But sometimes, there are other factors at play, and you need to investigate so you are certain to file against the appropriate party.
Sometimes, a vehicle malfunction causes an accident. Other times, damaged roads or broken traffic lights are the problem. It is essential to identify the party truly at fault since you must prove that party’s negligence to win a settlement. If you do not know how to carry out a full investigation or just do not have the resources to do so, you may file incorrectly, be unable to prove your claim, and lose compensation.
Gather Evidence to Prove Negligence
You need convincing evidence to prove the at-fault party was negligent and their negligence caused the accident leading to your injuries and losses. It is not enough to just give your side of the story. To gather thorough and convincing evidence, you will need some or all of the following:
- An official accident report
- Witness testimony
- Photo or video footage of the accident (if available), the initial aftermath, your injuries, and the overall scene–such as road conditions, traffic signals, and any other relevant details
- Medical reports and input from experts who can determine your prognosis
- Input from other relevant experts, such as vehicle inspectors or manufacturers, accident reconstructionists, and engineers, depending on the cause of the accident
- Statements from caregivers and loved ones
- Any other documentation or testimony to support your claim and settlement demand
Present Your Settlement Demand
Before you present your settlement demand to the at-fault party’s representatives, you have to evaluate your losses and consider how your injuries affect your future needs. You need to tabulate your current accident-related medical bills and estimate your continued care needs, as the effects of some injuries, like spinal cord or brain trauma, can compound over time, so you will have to anticipate those additional needs.
You also need to calculate your wages lost during recovery time, and future lost earnings and benefits if you cannot go back to work. You may need to pay for help fulfilling responsibilities you once did on your own, such as childcare duties, which must include those expenses. Finally, you must value your non-tangible losses, including pain and suffering, lost quality of life, and psychological distress, a challenging task since these losses do not come with a concrete bill.
The at-fault party’s insurance company will almost definitely reject your settlement demand. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible, so they will find ways to reduce your compensation. They may use intimidation tactics, use your words against you, or present their own investigator’s impression of how the accident occurred, which will work in the at-fault party’s favor.
They will also lean into Oklahoma’s comparative negligence laws, which allow victims to seek compensation if they are less than 50% responsible for an accident, but reduce their compensation according to their percentage of fault. The more blame the insurance company can put on you, the less they have to pay. You can expect a battle.
Go to Court
Should the at-fault party refuse to do anything other than lowball you, you may opt to take your case to court. To do this, you have to file a claim within Oklahoma’s statute of limitations and be prepared to follow the rules of the court as you present your case.
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The Benefits of Representation from a Car Accident Lawyer
There are many drawbacks and risks to settling your claim without an Oklahoma car accident lawyer. You may miss important evidence, undervalue your claim, be out-negotiated, fail to read or understand important “fine print” or legal terminology and accept far less than you deserve. And you add weeks and months of days filled with frustrating and lengthy phone calls and paperwork.
When you partner with an experienced car accident attorney from BDIW, you reap a long list of benefits which include, among others:
- No missed deadlines
- All documentation prepared and submitted accurately
- A thorough investigation of your accident and correct identification of the at-fault party
- Resources and connections producing comprehensive evidence to prove the at-fault party’s negligence and support your settlement demand
- A properly valued settlement demand
- A strong, savvy negotiator who will not allow you to be treated unjustly
- A fair settlement to cover your medical needs, income loss, and future care and that acknowledges your non-economic losses justly
- Superior advocacy from a compassionate, fierce car accident lawyer who will fight for your best interests and keep you updated on your case’s progress
With a Car Accident Lawyer, You Have a Better Chance of Settling for More
You are allowed to settle your car accident without a lawyer–but that does not mean you should. Rather than add stress to your life, and instead of risking fair compensation, contact BDIW to connect with an Oklahoma car accident lawyer. The consultation is free, and you will not pay any fees until we secure your settlement. One call to us will save you time, refocus your energy on recovery, and fight for the settlement you deserve.
The Sooner We Get Involved, The More We Can Do To Help You.SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY TODAY