Auto Accidents: Filing an Insurance Claim vs. Lawsuit
If you’ve been in a car crash, you have many options to consider in the aftermath of an accident. You could file an insurance claim for the injuries sustained and the vehicle damage, or you could file an injury lawsuit to seek damages to cover those losses. In either case, it would be a good idea to work with an auto accident attorney who can offer counsel and advice during the process.
The Daytona Beach and Palm Coast, FL injury lawyers of Chanfrau & Chanfrau are often asked if someone should take the insurance money or file an accident lawsuit instead. There’s no clear-cut answer, but we do think it’s important to compare these options and note the various advantages and disadvantages involved.
Negotiating an Insurance Claim
After the auto accident, you can file an insurance claim with the insurer of the driver who was responsible for the crash. This is known as a third party claim. In most cases, you should not file a first party claim with your own insurance company if you were not responsible for the collision.
The other driver’s insurance company will open an investigation into your claim, asking for documentary evidence of injuries sustained, medical treatment you required, and damage to your vehicle. Assuming your claim isn’t denied, the insurance company can then make you a compensation offer based on the evidence provided.
The Pros and Cons of Negotiating an Insurance Claim
The advantage filing a third party insurance claim is that you can avoid the litigation process entirely. It’s also possible to receive a comparable amount from the insurance company as you would in legal damages if the case went to trial.
The disadvantage to consider is being offered an insurance settlement far below the true value of your injuries, hardships, and suffering. There may also be a systemic issue that requires legal attention (e.g., trucking companies and driver fatigue) that won’t be addressed in accepting an insurance settlement.
Filing an Auto Accident Lawsuit
If the insurance settlement is not sufficient, a person can file an auto accident lawsuit to help cover injuries, vehicle damage, and so forth. During the lawsuit, both compensatory damages and punitive damages may be sought. The latter type of legal damages is used to punish the negligent party rather than cover material losses.
The Pros and Cons of Filing an Auto Accident Lawsuit
The advantage of filing a lawsuit is that you can recover more in damages than you would in an insurance settlement alone. Additionally, the threat of a lawsuit could lead to a higher insurance settlement before a trial gets under way.
The disadvantage to consider is the cost and time associated with bringing a case to trial. It could take months or years to reach a resolution, and there is no guarantee that your case will be resolved entirely in your favor.
Why You Should Work with a Lawyer After a Car Crash
Whether you’re filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit, working with an attorney can give you important insight into your case. Your lawyer can let you know what your case is realistically worth, which will help you negotiate a fair insurance settlement. If your insurance claim is denied, your attorney can help with the appeals process. If your case is going to trial, your lawyer will give you the support you need while building a strong case.
In short, having a skilled advocate on your side is essential for peace of mind.
Learn More About Legal Options After a Collision
For more information one what your next steps should be following a serious car crash, be sure to contact our skilled team of auto accident attorneys. You can reach the law firm of Chanfrau & Chanfrau by phone in Daytona Beach at (386) 258-7313 and in Palm Coast at (386) 439-7760.