When you have been injured in a car accident, you are probably facing mounting medical bills and, perhaps, the inability to work. Although you likely need payment for your damages as soon as possible, it may take months, or even years, to settle your case and receive compensation.
There are many steps in the legal process after a car accident, even if you reach a settlement and do not go all the way to trial. It is important you are aware of how the settlement process works in Georgia, so you know what to expect after your accident. A car accident lawyer in Duluth can help.
Report Your Accident
The first step you must take after your car accident is reporting the collision to law enforcement. Per Georgia law, you must immediately notify law enforcement if you have been involved in an accident that has caused more than $500 in damages to either property or persons.
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If you are medically able, you should take pictures of the accident scene, your vehicle, and the other vehicles involved. You should also get contact information for any witnesses to your car accident and the law enforcement officers who assisted. Be sure to obtain the at-fault party’s insurance information when possible.
Have Your Vehicle Inspected
If you are claiming property damage as a result of your accident, the insurance companies may request that you have your vehicle inspected. The purpose of this inspection is so they can determine the cost of the damages incurred. If damage is found, you will likely have to take your vehicle to a body shop to be repaired.
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Seek Medical Help
Whether you think you are injured or not, you should seek medical treatment. Some injuries are not visible, while others you may not feel the full effects of immediately. To collect compensation for your car accident, you must have documented evidence of your injuries and the treatment you are receiving for them.
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Contact a Duluth Car Accident Attorney
Once you report your accident and receive medical attention, you should contact BARRIOS VIRGÜEZ ATTORNEYS to determine whether you may have a claim against the at-fault parties. It is wise to consult with a lawyer to protect your interests against the insurance companies and other parties involved.
Investigate Your Accident
One of the first things your attorneys will do is investigate your car accident and gather evidence. They will notify any involved insurance companies of your pending claim. They will also obtain the police report, photographs, witness statements, and your medical records.
Treat Your Injuries
While your lawyer is gathering evidence to support your accident claim, it is important that you continue to seek treatment from your medical practitioners for the injuries you received. To collect compensation for those injuries and your other losses, you must have thorough documentation to support your claims. Your attorneys also need to have a good idea of what your future treatment plan will include.
Make a Demand
Once your lawyers know what your damages are, they will make a demand on the at-fault parties. They will seek compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other losses. Their demand for payment depends on several factors:
- The extent of your damages, including to your body and property
- The severity of your injuries
- The future medical treatment you will require
- The extent of fault of both you and the other parties involved
File a Lawsuit
It is not very common for the insurance companies or lawyers involved to pay what your attorney demands. If they decline to pay what your lawyers demand, a lawsuit can be filed. In Georgia, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the date you were injured in your car accident. Once a lawsuit is filed, the parties who were sued have an opportunity to respond to your claims.
After the parties being sued answer your complaint, a process called discovery begins. Discovery is when all parties involved in the lawsuit exchange information and documents relating to your car accident. This information is what will be used in the trial if your case progresses that far. In Georgia, the discovery period usually lasts around six months.
Negotiate With At-Fault Parties
During any point in the litigation process, the opposing parties may make an offer to pay you some amount of damages. Your attorneys will likely turn down the first offer they receive and will make a counterdemand. The attorneys involved will go back and forth, negotiating the amount of compensation you should receive. Negotiations can take time.
Prepare for Trial
If a compromise on the compensation you receive for your damages cannot be reached, your attorney will begin preparing for trial. The legal process can be long if your case makes it to this stage. You must be patient and provide your attorneys with all the information they request. In return, your lawyers will keep you informed and updated on what is happening with your case.
Reach a Settlement
Even if your case ends up going to trial, your lawyers will not stop trying to reach a settlement with the at-fault parties. Trials are expensive. Many attorneys will try to avoid letting a case get all the way to the trial stage. If your lawyers receive an offer of compensation they believe is reasonable and proportional to your injuries, they will present it to you for acceptance.
If you agree to the proposed settlement amount, there are additional stages you will have to wait on before you can receive your compensation check:
The formal paperwork that outlines the details of your recovery and dismissal of your lawsuit is important. It will take some time for your attorney to draft it and present it to the opposing parties and for them to make changes they deem necessary. Once all the parties agree on the specific settlement terms, they will sign it.
After the settlement paperwork is finalized and signed, the insurance companies or opposing parties involved will mail a check to your attorney. The funds received must sit in your lawyers’ trust account until they clear and the bank releases the money.
Before your attorneys can release your funds to you, they must ensure your medical bills, liens, and other subrogation claims are paid from the settlement monies.
Once all the required steps are taken, your lawyers will write you a check for your portion of your settlement. This amount is what you receive after your medical bills, liens, or other obligations, and attorneys’ fees and expenses are paid.
Improve Your Chances of Speedy Recovery
The settlement process after a car accident can be long and stressful. Contact BARRIOS VIRGÜEZ ATTORNEYS as soon as possible after your car accident to schedule an appointment with us. We may be able to expedite the settlement process on your behalf. We are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve as quickly and stress-free as possible.