You’ve been hurt in an auto accident, and now you need help with your medical bills, car repairs, daily expenses, and more. Where do you turn for help? If another driver’s negligent or reckless behavior behind the wheel played a role in your wreck, Mississippi state law affords you the right to recover compensation for your accident-related damages.
Compensation for motor vehicle accidents is typically paid through the at-fault party’s auto insurer. In the majority of cases, these injury claims are settled without anyone ever having to go to court. However, Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC cautions against accepting the first settlement offer that comes your way. Let’s take a more in-depth look at when car accident claims should be settled.
When To Settle a Car Accident Claim
So, when should you settle your car accident claim? The answer is both easy and difficult—when you have secured a settlement offer that fully addresses the entirety of your damages. We never recommend rushing to accept a settlement, especially if it is the first offer or seems suspiciously low.
You are worth the effort it takes to recover full and fair compensation.
If you prematurely accept an offer that does not completely address your financial losses or before the full extent of your injuries are made clear, you will be missing out on compensation to which you are rightfully entitled.
With that in mind, let’s explore the process of settling a car accident claim in Mississippi.
What Goes Into Settling a Car Accident Claim?
There are several steps involved with the filing of a personal injury claim following a car accident. This period may also be referred to as the pre-litigation stage, as it is a necessary precursor to the filing of a lawsuit should negotiations fail and a settlement not be reached.
Building a Claim
The process of building a strong car accident claim involves some of the following steps:
- Meeting with a personal injury attorney.
- Investigating the crash and identifying all at-fault parties.
- Collecting, preserving, and analyzing evidence.
The role of an attorney is to build the strongest possible case on your behalf. This may involve consulting with outside experts (such as medical professionals or accident reconstructionists), documenting eyewitness statements, reviewing the police report, and collecting insurance information for all at-fault parties.
The goal is to construct the strongest possible case on your behalf so that the insurance company can’t deny the validity of your claim.
Valuing Your Losses
The primary goal of any car accident claim is to recover compensation for the victim’s losses. This includes both financial and non-financial losses, which are typically referred to as economic and non-economic damages.
It is essential that your claim is valued correctly the first time. Except in rare circumstances, there will not be an opportunity to go back and ask for more money at a later date. You need to be certain that the settlement you accept fully and fairly addresses all the harm that you’ve suffered as a result of your accident injuries.
In a typical car accident case, a victim may be entitled to the following types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages refer to the financial losses you’ve incurred as a result of the accident, such as:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Transportation costs
- Domestic services (including cleaning services)
Not every loss is financial, though. This is why you may also recover compensation for non-economic damages like:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Decreased quality of life
- Lasting physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish (including anxiety, depression, and PTSD)
- New or worse disabilities
Punitive damages are only awarded in a small number of car accident cases as a form of financial punishment levied against the at-fault driver. Under state law, this type of damage is only awarded when there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the liable party “acted with actual malice, gross negligence which evidences a willful, wanton or disregard for the safety of others.”
Negotiating a Fair Settlement
Settling a car accident case rather than going to court will generally help you recover the compensation you need in a timelier fashion. However, Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC would like to stress that you should not be in a rush to accept the first offer that comes your way.
Insurance companies know that accident victims are in a difficult place, something that they take full advantage of by offering quick, lowball offers. This is done in the hopes that a victim will accept the offer and move on, never realizing just how much compensation they missed out on.
The only way to avoid this outcome is to know what your claim is worth. Having a qualified legal representative on your side can also be invaluable, as they will be familiar with all the tricks and tactics that insurance adjusters use to lower your overall settlement and limit your right to fair compensation. Otherwise, you might be unfairly led into saying something that you can’t take back.
When in doubt, refer all questions and requests for information to your lawyer.
How Long Do I Have To File My Claim?
The statute of limitations for car accident claims in the state of Mississippi is three years. A statute of limitations places a time limit on a person’s right to take legal action.
While three years might seem like a long period of time, this period can actually pass much quicker than you may realize. Remember, this is the timeframe in which you must meet with a lawyer, investigate your crash, determine who was at fault, collect and preserve evidence, value your losses, and build the strongest case possible. The longer you wait to get started, the greater the risk of missing the deadline or having to rush through the process.
When your right to compensation is on the line, waiting is never a good idea.
Settling Your Car Accident Claim on a Timeline That Makes the Most Sense
No two auto accidents are the same, which means that no two car accident cases are the same. This means that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to deciding when to settle a car accident claim. Everything from the severity and extent of your injuries, damages to your car, your pre-accident income, and future medical expenses can impact how long it takes to reach a successful resolution.
At Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, we take a personalized approach to every injury case we handle. To learn more about our legal services or the potential timeline for your claim, please contact a Jackson car accident attorney from our office to schedule a completely free case evaluation.
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