How to Settle an Accident Claim

how to settle an accident claimWhen an insurance company is responsible for paying the compensation you are due for an accident, you and your personal injury attorney will need to arrive at an acceptable dollar amount, and negotiate with the insurance adjuster to obtain it.

Determine a Settlement Amount

Compensation falls into the category of either property damage or compensation for your injuries. Property damage amounts are fairly simple to determine. In a car accident, use the blue book value of your vehicle if it was totaled in the collision or the repair bills if your car is salvageable. Other related expenses may include car rental and public transportations fees.

Your actual medical expenses are fairly straightforward as well. Total the bills you have amassed due to your injury, such as hospital, doctor, rehab and chiropractic treatment bills. Add the cost for any medication, mileage used to get to your appointments, lost income due to your medical treatment and related childcare expenses.

Pain and suffering for your injuries is a harder figure to determine. You will look at factors like how severe the injuries are, if your condition is permanent and if not, how long it will take for full recovery. Your personal injury attorney can help you arrive at a fair dollar amount for this part of your settlement. You can also use a personal injury calculator to get a rough idea of what your settlement might be.

Determine a Percentage of Fault

Unless you live in one of the four states and D.C. that observe the Pure Contributory Negligence Rule, you should be able to recover damages even if you were partially at fault for your accident. But in those jurisdictions if you are even 1% at fault, you cannot recover any damages. As in all things though, there are exceptions.

Other states recognize a Pure Comparative Fault Rule, where you can recover damages even if the accident is 99% your fault, but you will receive a percentage in comparison to the amount of fault. There is also a Modified Comparative Fault Rule that follows either the “50 percent Bar Rule” or the “51 percent Bar Rule.” You can only recover damages if your fault is under the 50 or 51 percent threshold.

Demand Letter

Your demand letter presents your arguments to the insurance company, how much you deserve and why. It describes your injuries, the treatment you received and the cost, any wages you lost, why the other party is liable and details any other damages you have suffered.


The insurance company will typically offer a low settlement to start. A talented personal injury lawyer can handle this part of the process adeptly to convince the insurance company that you deserve the compensation you are demanding.

Each state has laws addressing the amount you may recover from an accident claim. The type of claim plays a role, as does the party who is paying the claim. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the claims process and ensure you and the other parties adhere to the applicable rules. If you are in need of a knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey accident lawyer, please contact The Reinartz Law Firm to learn how we can help you with your accident claim.

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