To get a settlement from a car accident, you will have to file an insurance claim and negotiate a settlement. If you have been in a car accident, you may be pursuing a claim to settle damages that arise from injuries or property damage. While the person who caused the accident is usually liable for paying the damages, Nevada law requires drivers to carry insurance in the event of a car accident.
Being in a car accident can be unsettling and lead to significant damages and injuries. While enduring these can be emotional enough, the claims process to receive a car accident settlement can add to the stress. It helps to know upfront about the process of a car accident claim in Nevada.
The Car Accident Claim Process
To claim a settlement for car accident injuries and damages, there is a specific process to follow. It is only too late to get a lawyer for a car accident once the statute of limitations has passed, which is two years in Nevada. However, you should hire a lawyer from the beginning to help you with the process.
The claim process begins right after the car accident. This is because taking the correct steps at the scene will give you the best chance of a favorable outcome. At the accident scene, you should:
- Report the crash to the police immediately. They will attend the scene, investigate, and create a crash report.
- Get a copy of the crash report, as this will contain information about the scene, damages, and the crash itself, that can help your claim.
- Seek medical care, take photos, record details about the scene, get contact information of potential witnesses, and keep all medical bills and receipts.
Starting a claim usually requires you to notify your own insurance or the other driver’s insurance. Nevada laws require car owners to carry minimum liability insurance of $25,000 for injury or death of one person, $50,000 for the injury or death of two or more people, and $20,000 for property damage per accident.
You will notify the other driver’s insurance company if he or she was at fault. This is known as a third-party claim. You will notify your own insurer if you were at fault, or the other driver was not insured, and you have insurance coverage for this situation. This is called a first-party claim.
Work With the Insurance Adjuster
An adjuster will be appointed by the insurance company to investigate and handle your claim. He or she will contact you to request information and documentation to help with the investigation, as well as assess your damages. You should cooperate, but be cautious when communicating with another person’s insurance company. They can use statements that you provide to limit the compensation that they offer you. The best course of action is to direct all communication to a car accident lawyer.
If your claim is approved by the insurance company, then the final step is to negotiate a settlement. You do not have to accept the first offer that you receive. A motor vehicle accident attorney will help you in this step by knowing the value of your claim and negotiating with the insurance company to get the full value.
Negotiating with Insurers
Negotiating satisfactory settlements with insurers can be challenging. There are some specific car accident settlement tips to help with this process.
Settlement negotiations are based on evidence that proves who was at fault, as well as the value of your damages and injuries. Storing all relevant documents will strengthen your negotiating position.
Estimate the Value of Your Claim
You should begin settlement negotiations with a number in mind, otherwise, you may accept an offer that is too low. You should be able to determine the approximate value of:
- The cost of medical care.
- The amount of lost income or wages.
- The cost of repairs to your car or damaged property.
Knowing this will give you a specific number to aim for when negotiating, and can be determined by receipts, bills, invoices, etc. You can also request future medical care, diminished earning capacity, and pain and suffering. A car accident lawyer can help you calculate the value of your claim.
Write a Demand Letter
A demand letter gives your side of the story, as well as details about the accident and your injuries. It contains facts and your request for compensation. You give the figure that you are asking for in the demand letter.
Don’t Accept the First Offer
The first offer is usually too low. A negotiation requires back and forth. You are not obligated to accept the first offer and can communicate to reach a figure acceptable to both sides.
Do You Always Get a Settlement From a Car Accident?
You are never required to accept a claim. You and the insurance company might not agree on a settlement, they might refuse to settle, take too long, or refuse the claim, then you can file a lawsuit to recover damages. Not every car accident leads to a settlement.
How Long Will It Take to Receive a Car Accident Settlement?
Nevada law provides timeframes regarding the claims process. Once you have notified the insurance company of your claim, they have 20 days to acknowledge receipt and send relevant instructions and paperwork.
Once you have provided all relevant proof of your claim and of your damages, the insurance company has 30 days from receipt of these to investigate and decide whether to accept or deny or settle your claim. If the company needs more time to investigate the crash, it may be able to extend these 30 days.
Once a claim has been approved and settlement agreed upon, the insurance company must make payment within 30 working days. If the company takes longer than 30 days to pay, it must pay interest.