If you're ready to settle your auto accident injury claim with an insurance company and you have yet to hire a lawyer, you're probably wondering if you can negotiate your own settlement without an attorney. After all, a personal injury lawyer will take a percentage of the settlement as her fee. On the other hand, you might get more money in a settlement, even after the fees, if you use a lawyer. With patience and persistence, you can settle your auto accident injury claim on your own, without using a lawyer.
Research the time limit for filing a personal injury claim in your state. Each state has its own statute of limitations that describes the length of time you have to file a case. The time limit starts on the day of your injury, and it expires in one to four years, depending on where you live. If you haven't settled your claim by the time the statute of limitations runs out, you must file a lawsuit to preserve your rights.
Send a request for a copy of your medical records to each doctor, hospital and other medical provider who treated you for your injuries. If you don't already have copies of their invoices, write to their accounts payable and request copies of your medical bills.
Send a request for records to any law enforcement agency that came to the scene of the accident. Ask for a copy of the accident report and any statements that law enforcement took at the scene.
Make copies of your pay stubs if you missed time from work because of the accident.
Make copies of documents that evidence the damage to your vehicle, such as insurance estimates and repair bills. Copy photographs, if you have them, that show the damage to your car.
Make copies of receipts for any other expenses you incurred because of the accident. For example, if you had to hire a childcare provider to watch your children while you went to medical appointments, make copies of your receipts. Calculate your mileage and parking expenses or bus fare for going to medical appointments.
Write a letter to the insurance company, and include copies of the records you collected. List the total amount of money you lost for wages, medical bills, transportation and other expenses. Demand that the insurance company reimburse you for all your out-of-pocket expenses plus a multiple of three to five times your expenses as reimbursement for the pain, suffering and inconvenience of the accident. Negotiate with the claim representative until you both agree to the settlement amount.
Keep a copy of everything you send the insurance company, and keep a log of your communication with them. If you talk to someone on the phone or in person, write down the date of the call, the name of the person you spoke to, the time and duration of the call and the substance of the discussion.
Do not let the deadline pass for filing a lawsuit related to the accident. Your best alternative to a negotiated settlement is to file suit against the other driver, so keep your litigation option open in case you can't settle the claim.
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