Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accident Cases
In our FAQs, our skilled lawyers have compiled answers to the most common questions our clients ask about car accident cases. Browse our frequently asked questions to get the answers to your own questions about filing a claim for compensation following your car accident.
- Page 1
Can I drive after one glass of wine?
No, you should not drive after drinking any amount of alcohol. You could be legally drunk after consuming as little as one glass of wine. The size of the glass, your weight, how you metabolize alcohol, and other factors can affect whether you would become intoxicated. Your best strategy is not to drink and drive to avoid being charged with DWI or causing a car accident.
What Is DWI in New Mexico?
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious criminal offense in New Mexico. A person can be charged with DWI for driving or being in physical control of a motor vehicle in these situations:
- They drive when their blood alcohol level (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher.
- They drive when their ability to drive is impaired due to the consumption of any amount of alcohol or drugs, even if their BAC is lower than 0.08 percent.
Commercial drivers can be charged with DWI if their BAC is 0.04 percent or higher. Drivers under 18 years old are considered legally drunk if their BAC is 0.02 percent or higher.
Individuals face harsh consequences if they are convicted of DWI in New Mexico. For a first offense, their punishment could include the following:
- Jail and fine. They may be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $500 or both
- Community service. They would be required to perform 24 to 48 hours of community service.
- Rehabilitation program. They would have to complete a driver rehabilitation program for alcohol.
- Driver’s license suspension. Their driver’s license would be suspended for one year. When their driving privileges are restored, they may only be able to drive with an ignition interlock device for one year.
What Should You Do if You Are in an Auto Crash With a Drunk Driver?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You should take the following steps to build a winning case so that you receive the maximum recovery from the negligent motorist’s insurance company:
- Obtain prompt medical care. You should be examined by a doctor within 72 hours of your collision—even if you do not believe you were hurt. This protects your health if you suffered an injury and avoids disputes with the insurance company about the cause and severity of your injuries.
- Contact the police. Call the police at the crash scene, and obtain a copy of the police report. It can contain helpful information, such as details of how the accident occurred, initial breathalyzer test results, the officer’s conclusions about who caused the collision, and whether the drunk driver was arrested for DWI or received a traffic citation.
- Look for signs of intoxication. Look for signs that the driver is intoxicated, such as open alcohol containers, the driver’s slurred speech or bloodshot eyes, or their use of mouthwash, gum, or eye drops before the police arrive. Report anything you observe to the law enforcement officer.
- Collect evidence. You will need proof that the drunk driver’s negligence caused your crash. Helpful evidence to collect includes photos of the damage to the vehicles, crash scene, skid marks, and your injuries, eyewitness contact information and statements, results of a breath or blood alcohol test, and vehicle event data information. You should also obtain the contact information for the driver and their insurance company.
- Retain a lawyer. You should hire a skilled car accident lawyer immediately after the collision to file your claim and negotiate your settlement with the insurance company.
Were you or a family member injured in a drunk driving collision in Roswell or Southeast New Mexico? Our experienced car accident lawyers are here to explain your options and go up against the insurance company so that you receive all the compensation you deserve under New Mexico law. Call our Roswell office at 575-300-4000 or complete our online form to schedule your free consultation today to learn more about how we can assist you.
How can I pay my medical bills after a car accident?
In an auto collision in New Mexico, you could suffer serious injuries, such as back and spinal injuries, a traumatic brain injury, or organ damage. You may be worried about how to pay your mounting medical bills while you are off work for months or longer recovering from your injuries. You need to understand your options to pay your medical bills and your right to seek compensation from the negligent driver who caused your car crash.
Who Is Responsible for Paying the Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
In New Mexico, the at-fault motorist is responsible for paying you compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and pain and suffering. However, you may go through many frustrating months while you go up against the insurance company for the settlement you deserve.
You are ultimately responsible for paying your medical bills even if you did nothing wrong to cause the collision. You do not want to wait until you settle your claim to your medical bills. Your health care provider could refuse to continue to treat you. In addition, they could refer your account to a collection agency or sue you.
What Are Your Options to Pay Medical Bills After Auto Collision Injuries?
Fortunately, several options exist for paying your medical bills after a car accident. They include the following:
- MedPay. When you purchased your auto insurance, you could buy optional Medical Payment Coverage, also referred to as MedPay. You can use the coverage to pay for your reasonable medical expenses related to the car accident up to the policy limits. You could use Medical Payment Coverage even if you were partially or entirely at fault for causing the wreck.
- Health insurance. If you have private health insurance that you purchased or through a job, you should use it to pay your medical bills while you wait to settle your claim. This will help you avoid the stress and harm to your credit that you would experience if you do not pay the expenses. In addition, you will be paying at the reduced rate your health insurance company has secured.
- Uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is another optional coverage that you can use to pay your medical bills if the negligent driver had no auto insurance. Even though you would be filing a claim with your own insurance company, you should retain a skilled car accident lawyer to protect your rights and ensure you receive all the compensation you deserve.
- Underinsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage would be an option if you purchased it and the other driver had liability insurance but did not have enough coverage to compensate you fully. You could file a claim for up to your policy limits. For example, if the negligent driver had $100,000 in liability coverage and your damages were $200,000, you may be able to file a claim for $100,000 under your auto insurance policy if you have this coverage.
- Negligent driver. If another motorist caused your car crash, they are responsible for compensating you for your injuries. All drivers in New Mexico are required to purchase liability insurance of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in liability insurance for injuries caused in a wreck.
Will You Have to Pay Back the Health Insurance Provider?
If your health insurance company is paying your medical bills while you wait to receive your settlement proceeds, they have a right of subrogation. This means that you would need to pay them back for what they paid when you receive your settlement.
Did a negligent driver cause you to suffer injuries in an auto collision in Roswell or Southeast New Mexico? Our dedicated car accident lawyers can help you determine the best options for paying your medical bills and can go up against the insurance company for all the compensation you deserve. Call our Roswell office at 575-300-4000 or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation today to learn more about how we can assist you.
How much is my pedestrian accident claim worth?
If you are like many pedestrian accident victims in New Mexico, you want to know how much your claim is worth at the beginning of your case. While this is understandable, there is no precise answer to this question. However, if you retain an experienced car accident lawyer, they can give you a general sense of what you can expect to receive in your settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company.
Compensation You Can Recover in a Pedestrian Collision Case
The first step in determining the value of a claim is to calculate the amount of compensation you are entitled to under New Mexico law. Keep in mind that you should receive your past and future damages if you have not yet fully recovered from your injuries or have suffered a long-term injury that will affect you for the rest of your life—which is common in pedestrian accident cases. Types of compensation you should receive in your settlement include:
- Medical expenses. You are entitled to reimbursement of the cost of all necessary medical treatments to treat your injuries. This can include surgeries, hospitalizations, doctor visits, diagnostic tests, physical therapy, and medications.
- Lost wages. If you missed work while you were recovering from your injuries, you should be compensated for your lost wages, lost sick and vacation time, lost commissions, and other lost perks of your job.
- Lost earning capacity. If you must make a career change and take a pay cut due to your injuries or become permanently disabled, you can ask for lost earning capacity damages in your settlement. You may need to hire an economic expert witness to determine the value of this portion of your claim.
- Property damage. You can recover the cost to repair or replace any personal property, such as a cellphone, damaged in your pedestrian accident.
- Pain and suffering. You should also receive compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced due to your injuries. You need the help of a knowledgeable car accident attorney to determine how much you should recover for this part of your claim.
Five Factors That Can Affect How Much Your Claim Is Worth
In an ideal world, your lawyer would determine the value of your claim, and the insurance company would quickly offer you a settlement for all the damages you are requesting. Unfortunately, the settlement of your claim will probably not work like that. The insurance company could try to deny your claim, delay settling it, and pay you less compensation than you deserve in your settlement. This is a common insurance company tactic, especially since the pandemic.
In addition, there are a number of factors that will increase or decrease the value of your claim. Here are a few factors that can affect how much your claim is worth:
- Severity of your injuries. If you suffer severe injuries, you will need more long-term medical care and miss more time at work. This will increase the overall value of your claim, including the pain and suffering portion of your claim.
- Disputes. Legitimate disputes with the insurance company about the liability of the driver who struck you or the seriousness of your injuries will weaken your case and decrease the value of your claim.
- Your fault. If you were partially at fault in causing your pedestrian accident, this would affect your claim’s value. Under New Mexico’s pure comparative negligence law, the amount of compensation you can recover would be reduced by your percentage of fault in causing the crash.
- Your actions. The actions you take right after a pedestrian accident will directly impact how much your claim is worth. Contacting the police at the accident scene and obtaining prompt medical care will strengthen your claim and its value. However, if you made mistakes, such as agreeing to give a recorded statement, you may have hurt your case and have to accept less damages than you would otherwise be entitled to in your settlement.
- Insurance coverage. Even if you have a strong case, the insurance company is only responsible for paying you up to the driver’s liability insurance coverage. If the motorist only purchased the minimum amount of insurance required in New Mexico, this would significantly lower your claim’s value.
Were you or a family member injured in a pedestrian accident in Roswell, Carlsbad, or Southeast New Mexico? Our dedicated car accident lawyers can value your claim and go up against the negligent driver’s insurance company for the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call our Roswell office at 575-300-4000 or complete our online form to schedule your free consultation today.
How do insurance companies investigate car accident claims?
You will need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company if you want to receive the compensation you deserve for the injuries you suffered in an auto collision in New Mexico. Settling a claim with the insurance company may be complicated and frustrating. It can be helpful to know how the insurance company investigates car crash claims in our state, so you know what to expect and can protect your rights.
Why Will the Insurance Company Investigate Your Claim?
There are several reasons why the insurance company would want to investigate your claim before offering you a settlement. First, they need to assess the validity of your claim and how much compensation you should receive. They cannot offer you a settlement until they determine this.
They also want to protect against insurance fraud. Unfortunately, some claims are fraudulent. This can also happen when they are made by a third party claiming they were injured in a collision.
Another major reason insurance adjusters investigate claims is to try to find reasons to deny a claim or pay the victim less damages than they are entitled to under New Mexico law. Why would they do this? Insurance companies are businesses with the goal of making a profit. If the insurance adjuster can deny a claim or pay a lower settlement, they will save their employer money.
How Do Insurance Companies Investigate an Auto Collision Claim?
The insurance company will take several steps to investigate your claim. If you suffered long-term injuries and the value of your claim is higher, the investigation could be more extensive and take more time to complete. Here is what you can inspect to happen.
#1: Assign a Claims Adjuster to Your Case
When you file your claim, a claims adjuster would be assigned to your case. They would investigate how your car accident occurred and your injuries before deciding whether to offer to settle your claim. If the insurance company suspects your claim is fraudulent, they may also assign a special investigator trained to identify fraud and possible criminal activities to examine your claim.
#2: Review the Police Report
The insurance adjuster would review a copy of the police report. It will contain helpful information, such as details of how the collision occurred, the police officer’s conclusions about who was at fault, and whether any traffic citations were issued.
#3: Conduct Interviews
Another important step the insurance adjuster would take is to interview you, other victims, passengers in any of the vehicles, and eyewitnesses. They may ask you to give a recorded statement, which is a question and answer session that is tape-recorded and transcribed into a written document.
You do not have to give a recorded statement to settle your claim, and agreeing to their request would be a mistake. You could inadvertently say something that hurts your claim and be used against you in settlement negotiations or court.
#4: Review the Crash Scene and Photos
The insurance adjuster would also review any photos taken right after your car accident occurred and may visit the crash scene. This can help them determine the cause of the collision.
#5: Inspect Your Vehicle
The insurance company will most likely want to inspect your car before it is repaired. Looking at the damage to your auto can help them determine how your accident occurred and the value of your property damage claim.
#6: Review Your Medical Records
You should also expect the insurance company to request a copy of your medical records to determine the seriousness of your injuries and the medical treatments you need. The insurance adjuster would also be looking to see if you delayed seeking medical care after the accident, if you have gaps in your treatment, and if you followed your doctor’s advice.
In addition, they would look for preexisting injuries. They would use this information to argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim or were caused by another incident.
#7: Search Your Social Media Sites
Another investigative tactic the insurance company would employ is to search your social media sites. They may do this several times while your claim is being resolved. They would try to find statements you made suggesting you caused the accident or that your injuries are not severe. They would look for evidence that you are engaging in activities you should not be able to do given your injuries.
How Can You Protect Your Rights During an Insurance Company Investigation?
The best way to protect yourself while the insurance adjuster is investigating your claim is to hire an experienced car accident lawyer immediately. They will take over communications with the insurance company, help you avoid mistakes that could weaken your claim, and go up against the insurance company so that you receive all the compensation you deserve in your settlement. To learn about our track record of success in these cases and how we can assist you, call our Roswell office at 575-300-4000 or complete our online form to schedule your free consultation today.
How do I prove my car accident was not my fault?
If you were hurt in an auto collision, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver under New Mexico law. However, their insurance company could claim that you caused the crash in order to deny your claim or try to pay you fewer damages than you deserve. When you file your claim, you need to be prepared that this could happen and know what you can do to fight back.
What Do You Need to Prove to Win Your Claim?
To obtain the compensation you are entitled to, you must prove your case. In New Mexico, you need to establish the following elements of a negligence claim:
- The driver owed you a duty. All drivers in New Mexico have a duty to drive safely and obey traffic laws.
- The driver was negligent and breached their duty to you. Speeding, talking or texting on a cellphone, or driving while intoxicated are a few ways they could have caused your car accident.
- The driver’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries.
- You suffered damages as a result of their negligence. You will also need to prove the amount of compensation you should receive.
Additionaly, dowload this free how-to guide that will explain in easy-to-understand terms the most important aspects of your car accident case. With clear examples in each chapter, you will be given specific tips and strategies to help you know what steps to take and how to take them, and just as importantly, you will learn what NOT to do.
How Do You Prove Your Car Crash Was Not Your Fault?
The best way to establish that you did not cause your auto collision is to collect evidence that proves how the wreck occurred. You need to start collecting evidence right after the accident occurs. Here are some of the steps to take to prove who’s at fault after a crash:
Use your cellphone camera to take pictures of the damage to both vehicles, road and weather conditions, your injuries, and anything else you believe could help show the cause of your crash. Your photos can help a skilled car accident lawyer or an accident reconstruction expert prove that the other driver’s negligence caused the collision.
Obtain Contact Information
You must get the contact information for the other motorist and their insurance company. You cannot file your claim without this information.
Contact the Police
Call the police immediately and wait for them to arrive. An officer will investigate the cause of the collision and write a police report. The report can contain helpful information that may help prove you were not to blame for the crash. Useful information that the report may contain includes:
- Date, time, and place of the wreck
- Details of how the crash occurred
- Statements by the other motorist, witnesses, and you
- Officer’s conclusions as to who was negligent
- Any traffic citations issued
Talk to Witnesses
Eyewitnesses who do not know you and have no stake in your claim can be extremely helpful in proving that you did not cause the car accident. If possible, you should talk to any witnesses at the crash scene and obtain their contact information. If you do not get this information right away, you may not be able to locate essential witnesses at a later date, or their memories of how the crash happened could fade.
Retain a Lawyer
You should hire a knowledgeable car accident attorney as soon as possible after your collision. They will help you collect the evidence you need to win your case. An attorney will also have strategies to defeat the insurance company’s arguments that you were the negligent driver and will go up against them for all the compensation you deserve. If the insurance company refuses to be reasonable or the statute of limitations to file your lawsuit will expire soon, they can file your complaint and litigate your claim.
Get the Help You Need to Get the Compensation You Deserve
Were you or a loved one injured in an auto crash that was not your fault in Roswell or southeastern New Mexico? Is the other driver’s insurance company falsely claiming that your negligence caused the wreck? Our experienced car accident lawyers are here to explain your rights to you and aggressively fight for the maximum recovery you are entitled to in your settlement. To learn more about how we can help you, call our Roswell office at 575-300-4000, start a live chat, or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation today.
How do I pay to rent a car after a car accident?
If you were involved in an auto collision that was not your fault, you are entitled to compensation from the negligent driver and their insurance company. Even if you suffered no injuries, they could be responsible for paying for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
If you are like many car accident victims, you will need to rent an auto while yours is in the repair shop or while you are waiting for a new vehicle. However, the cost of renting a motor vehicle can add up quickly. You need to know your options for paying the car rental fees.
Two Ways to Obtain Reimbursement for the Cost of Renting a Car
You have more than one option for getting your car rental fees paid while you do not have your own automobile. They include:
- Negligent driver’s insurance company. The insurance company for the at-fault driver is responsible for compensating you for your losses caused by the car crash. This includes paying the cost to repair or replace your auto and rent a vehicle.
- Your insurance company. In New Mexico, you are not required to purchase insurance to cover the cost of renting an auto while yours is in the shop. However, if you have this coverage, you could file a claim to pay for your car rental fees with your insurance company.
Which Insurance Company Should You Ask to Pay for Your Car Rental Costs?
One of the decisions you will need to make is whether to file a claim with your or the negligent motorist’s insurance company. Here are the considerations you need to weigh when making your decision:
- It will be faster to get your car rental fees paid by your own insurance company, which will make it easier to rent a vehicle if you cannot afford to pay for it while you wait to settle your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company.
- Under your insurance policy, you will only be entitled to reimbursement of your car rental costs for a certain number of days. They will also only authorize a specific daily rate for renting a vehicle, which may not be enough money to cover the cost of renting a vehicle that meets your family’s needs.
- There is no fixed limit on how long you can rent a vehicle or the per-day cost of the rental when you are filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
- The negligent motorist’s insurance company will take longer to investigate your claim and agree to pay the car rental costs for you. You may have to be without a vehicle or pay for it yourself while you wait for them to settle this portion of your claim.
What Type of Motor Vehicle Can You Rent?
The insurance company for the at-fault driver is responsible for compensating you for the cost of renting a vehicle that is comparable to the one damaged in the car accident. While your own insurance company is also responsible for paying for a similar auto to yours, they are only required to pay the daily rate stated in your contract. This may not be enough to rent a comparable automobile, and you could have to pay the balance owed after the car rental company receives their payment.
Will You Have to Pay a Deposit to Rent a Car?
The rental car company will most likely require you to provide your credit card information when you pick up the rental vehicle. If you do not have a credit card, you will need to find out if they will accept a debit card or other form of deposit.
If you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver and have questions about your right to payment for your car rental fees and other damages you may be entitled to, our dedicated car accident lawyers are here to help. We handle claims for auto crash victims in Roswell and southeastern New Mexico. To learn how we can assist you, call our office at 575-300-4000 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.
What should I do if the negligent driver lies to their insurance company?
If another driver’s negligence was the cause of your car accident in New Mexico, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries from their insurance company. However, you should not assume it will be easy to settle your claim—even if you have solid proof that they were to blame for the crash.
It can be even more challenging to obtain the damages you deserve if the motorist lies to their insurance company about how your crash occurred. If you are in this situation, do not give up hope of holding the driver and their insurance company accountable. Here are the steps you need to take to build a winning case against them.
Five Steps to Take If the At-Fault Motorist Lies About Your Car Accident
The driver who caused your accident may misrepresent how your auto crash occurred because of worries that their insurance premiums could increase. This is true even if it is the first time they have caused a collision. Here are five steps you can take to protect yourself.
#1: Don’t Argue
Avoid arguing with the other motorist if they misrepresent how your auto accident occurred. You will not change what they say by getting into an argument. In addition, you might say something that could hurt your claim and can be used against you by their insurance company.
#2: Be Honest
When talking to the police and the insurance company, you need to stick to the facts about how the crash occurred. If you do and are consistent in what you say, you will be a credible witness—unlike the other driver. Even though you may still have to fight long and hard before you can reach a fair settlement of your claim, it is much more likely that you can convince the insurance company to pay you what you deserve.
#3: Write Down Details
As soon as you can, you should write down how your car accident occurred while they are fresh in your mind. Some of these details could help you establish that the other driver was the negligent party.
#4: Collect Evidence
The building blocks of a strong case are evidence that proves the at-fault driver’s negligence, seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of damages you should receive. Collecting evidence is even more vital if the motorist lies about what happened. Here are crucial types of evidence to obtain to establish how your crash occurred:
- Contact the police. Call the police at the collision scene. They will conduct an investigation and write a police report. The police report will have helpful information that can help you, such as driver and witness statements, details of how the auto accident occurred, the officer’s conclusions as to who was at fault, and whether any traffic tickets were issued.
- Take pictures. Use your cellphone camera to take pictures of the crash scene, damage to the cars, your injuries, and anything else you believe could be helpful. Your photos could assist a lawyer or expert in determining the cause of your wreck.
- Obtain witness contact information. If there were eyewitnesses to your collision, you need to get their written statements while the crash is fresh in their minds and you can locate them. Collect their contact information right away so that you do not lose the chance to get their testimony, which can help win your case.
- Hire an expert. You may need to retain an accident reconstruction expert to determine who caused your accident and create a computer-generated re-enactment of it.
#5: Retain a Lawyer
If the other driver is lying to their insurance company, you should retain a knowledgeable car accident lawyer immediately. They will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your wreck and will collect the evidence that can be used to prove the other driver’s negligence. They will also go up against the motorist’s insurance company so that you receive the maximum recovery you are entitled to under New Mexico law.
If you or a family member were injured in a car accident in Southeastern New Mexico or Roswell, our experienced car accident attorneys are here to help you with your claim. Start a live chat, call us at 575-300-4000, or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.
Can I file a claim for compensation if I can’t remember how my car accident happened?
Yes, you still have a right to compensation for your injuries if you cannot remember how your auto collision occurred if a negligent driver caused it. However, you may need to collect additional evidence and fight harder with the at-fault motorist’s insurance company to obtain a fair settlement from them.
Why You May Not Be Able to Remember How Your Car Accident Occurred
It is common for auto crash victims to not remember how their collisions occurred. There are several reasons that could cause them to not remember it:
- Brain injury. If a person suffered a traumatic brain injury or concussion in the accident, this can affect their memory—sometimes permanently.
- Trauma. If a victim experienced emotional trauma and terror from being in the car crash, their brain could block out memories of how the accident occurred.
- Substance abuse. Someone who was intoxicated may not remember the details of the auto crash because the drugs or alcohol consumed may have affected their memories.
- Health issues. If the victim has Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other health problems affecting their memory, this could impact their ability to remember how the wreck happened.
Evidence That Can Help You Prove Your Case
If you cannot remember how your car accident occurred, you can collect other evidence that proves that the other driver—and not you—was at fault in causing the crash. It is best to retain an experienced car accident attorney right away. They will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your collision, and they know what evidence is needed to convince the insurance company of their liability to compensate you. Helpful evidence can include:
- Police report. The police report will contain information on how the accident occurred, the officer’s conclusions as to who was at fault, and whether any traffic citations were issued.
- Eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses to the collision can provide written statements and testimony that can help you establish that the other driver was the negligent party. Their statements will be especially persuasive if you do not know the witness and they have no personal stake in your claim.
- Black box data. The black box in the vehicle could provide you with important information about the vehicle’s speed, acceleration, braking, seat belt use, and airbag deployment at the time your crash occurred.
- Surveillance video. A security camera from a nearby business or a traffic camera may have recorded your auto accident as it occurred. Your attorney will need to act quickly to obtain the footage before it is taped over.
- Photos. Witnesses to the crash or the police may have taken photos of the damage to the cars, the crash scene, and your injuries that can be helpful in proving what caused your collision.
Were you hurt in a car accident that was not your fault? Do not let your memory loss stop you from pursuing the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call our Roswell office or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation today to learn how we can assist you.
How long will it take to get my check after settling my car accident claim?
It could take a long time to settle your car accident claim. The insurance company for the negligent driver could use many tactics to deny your claim or try to pay you less compensation than you deserve for your injuries.
When you finally reach a settlement, you will be anxious to receive your check. Unfortunately, you will not get it immediately because you must complete several final steps before the insurance company releases your payment.
What Are the Final Steps in an Auto Collision Settlement?
Understanding what steps must be completed before you receive your settlement check can make the wait easier. You should not settle your claim or sign any legal documents without first consulting with an experienced car accident lawyer. They will also ensure that the insurance adjuster is doing what they are supposed to do to finalize your settlement.
It could take up to four to eight weeks before the process is completed. Here are the steps that you can expect to happen:
- Release. Before the insurance company writes your check, they require you to sign a release of all claims form. In this legal document, you would agree to accept the settlement amount and to waive any claim for future compensation. It could take several weeks for the insurance company to draft the release and revisions proposed by your attorney to be made.
- Check. After the signed release is sent to the insurance company, they will issue your check. Depending on their procedures, it could take a week or two for them to do this and send the payment to your attorney.
- Check Deposit. Upon receipt, your lawyer will deposit the check into a client trust account (required by law). Once the check clears, the funds are ready for distribution, in which your legal and medical expenses will be paid from the settlement amount. Here is how it works:
- Attorney fees. First, the attorney fees will be calculated on the total (gross) settlement amount. The attorney fees and litigation costs are paid from the settlement amount.
- Expenses. Next, your attorney will pay any medical liens and other bills you owe.
- Your payment. The last step in the process of settling your claim is to send you your check for the balance, which represents your client proceeds (i.e. take home amount). Along with your check, you will receive an itemized statement showing each expense, and exactly what was paid out of the settlement. This will include invoices paid so you have a complete record of everything. Once you receive your check and itemized statement, your case will finally be completed.
Were you injured in an auto collision in Roswell, Carlsbad, Artesia, or Southeast New Mexico? Our knowledgeable and dedicated car accident legal team is here to explain your options to you and go up against the insurance company so that you receive all the compensation you deserve in your settlement.
We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe us no attorney fees until we win your case. To schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation, call our Roswell office or fill out our contact form today.
Download this FREE brief how-to guide that explains in easy-to-understand terms the most important aspects of your car accident case. With clear examples in each chapter, you will be given specific tips and strategies to help you know what steps to take and how to take them, and just as importantly, you will learn what NOT to do.
- Release. Before the insurance company writes your check, they require you to sign a release of all claims form. In this legal document, you would agree to accept the settlement amount and to waive any claim for future compensation. It could take several weeks for the insurance company to draft the release and revisions proposed by your attorney to be made.
What’s the difference between filing a claim and a lawsuit?
If a negligent driver caused you to suffer injuries in a car accident, you could be entitled to compensation from them. You have two options for obtaining the damages you deserve: filing a claim and filing a lawsuit. While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are very different processes, and it is important for you to understand how they differ.
What Is an Auto Collision Claim?
The first step you will take to seek compensation from the at-fault motorist would be to file a claim with their insurance company. While you can file your claim on your own, it is best to retain an experienced car accident lawyer to file it for you. This process is an attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement of your claim.
Your lawyer would send the insurance company a demand letter advising them of your claim, how the other driver’s negligence caused the crash, the seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of compensation you should receive. An insurance adjuster would be assigned to investigate your claim and determine how to respond to your attorney’s demand for compensation.
Unfortunately, even if you have a strong case, the insurance company will most likely try to deny your claim or offer you less money than you are entitled to in order to save money. Your attorney may need to collect additional evidence or hire expert witnesses to refute the insurance adjuster’s arguments. Your lawyer may go through a series of offers and counteroffers with the insurance company before negotiating your settlement.
What Is an Auto Accident Lawsuit?
If the insurance company refuses to be reasonable or the statute of limitations, which is the deadline you have to file your complaint, will expire soon, your attorney would file a lawsuit in court on your behalf. Here are the steps involved in litigating your case:
- Complaint. Your lawyer would file a civil complaint in court. Your complaint would contain the same basic information as in the demand letter and ask the court to award you the damages you deserve under New Mexico law.
- Answer. The negligent driver would be served with your complaint and would file an answer to it admitting or denying the allegations. They would most likely deny everything and raise defenses as to why they are not liable to pay you.
- Discovery. The longest stage in your case will be the discovery phase. The attorneys for the insurance company and you would obtain information from each other and third parties to support their case and defeat the other side’s arguments. Written questions, referred to as interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and depositions are the common types of discovery used in car accident cases.
- Negotiations. When your lawyer believes it would be productive, they will engage in negotiations with the attorney for the insurance company. It is likely that you will reach a settlement of your case at some point in the litigation process.
- Trial. If your case is not settled, it would be decided at a jury trial where you would have the opportunity to present your evidence and testify about how the accident occurred, the seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of compensation you should receive. After both sides present their arguments, the jury would decide how much damages, if any, to award you.
If you or a family member were hurt in an auto collision in Roswell, our dedicated car accident lawyers are here to explain your options and go up against the insurance company so that you receive your fair settlement. To find out more about how we can assist you and our track record of success in these cases, start a live chat or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free case evaluation today.