There is a lot of work that goes into building a case for your car accident. It is time consuming and time sensitive. There are a few things you should consider before you get started.
- How extensive are your injuries?
- How much damage was done to your vehicle?
- How much damage was done to the other motorist vehicle?
- The severity of the car accident?
- Do you have the time to investigate, organize, and present a case?
- Who is liable for the accident?
- Are there multiple vehicles involved, which would mean multiple insurance companies?
- Does your health insurance subrogate?
If the cost is low, it’s clear who is at fault, and there is minimal monetary damage you may feel that you can handle the situation.
Get Started Handling Your Own Car Accident Case
After your car accident make sure that you take photos and notes at the scene, documenting as much as you can. It is wise that you see a medical professional to examine you and determine if you have any injuries. You need to evaluate how badly you were injured by the auto accident. If you have serious injuries and spend a good deal of time in the hospital, you have to determine if you want to take on such an endeavor as representing yourself in court as it is very possible that is where your case may end up.
After you have collected your evidence from your car accident you will have to learn how to navigate the insurance companies, not only yours but the others that are involved. Keep in mind laws change from state to state and so do policies, so if your accident happened in another state you will need to familiarize yourself with their state laws.
Below are the steps you would need to take if you decide to try your case on your own (assuming you have finished your medical care) in North Carolina.
Step 1: Evaluate the extent of the damages
Step 2: Determine who was at fault for the auto accident. If you are deemed liable it would be wise to seek the assistance of legal counsel.
Step 3: Inform the liable parties and insurance companies about your claim.
Step 4: Draft a demand letter
Your demand letter will be sent to the defendant's insurance company. A demand letter for a car accident will have to have a specific dollar amount depending on a variety of items.
- How the auto accident happened
- Specifics of your medical treatment (co-pays, office visits, bills, etc. )
- How the accident has impacted your life (lost wages, pain and sufferings, etc)
Step 5: Wait for the response of the insurance company.
Three Things the Auto Insurance Company Can Do
- They can accept your demand and the settlement goes forward.
- Negotiate: the insurance company makes a counteroffer. This can go back and forth for some time. All while the timer for your statutes of limitations is ticking away. In the state of North Carolina you have three years to file your lawsuit in an auto accident not involving wrongful death or the death of any individual in the accident. If you were to hire an attorney, they would handle the negotiation process for you. Once you have reached an agreed upon amount, it is time to settle your case. You need to make sure you have properly handled any health insurance subrogation claim or you risk losing all of the money you just got for your case.
- The insurance agency denies your claim or ignores your claim. If they ignore your fist demand letter, follow up with a second letter. This would be an opportune time for an attorney that handles auto accidents to step in and complete the process for you.
Step 6: File a lawsuit in the proper jurisdiction (which isn’t always where you had your auto accident)
Preparing for the Lawsuit
A lawsuit is where you (the plaintiff), take the other party (the defendant) in the car crash to court. Lawsuits can be time consuming and expensive. Most parties agree to settle out of court or go through mediation or arbitration. If your case is worth over $25,000 in damages your case would be heard in the superior court and you are required to go through mediation before going to trial.
File Complaint With Court
A complaint is basically you stating how the defendants actions caused you harm in your auto accident and you would like to be compensated financially.
Service of Process
Service of process is where the plaintiff attaches the complaint to a summons with the basic background information for the case and a deadline for filing an answer.
Discovery is just as it sounds. You are building your case for your car accident by gathering information that may not be publicly known.
Depositions are where you ask a series of questions concerning the car wreck to the defendant under oath. Depositions are transcribed (or video) and can be used in court. This usually takes place at an attorney's office. Attorneys are very skilled at asking the right questions and bringing in expert witnesses.
In pre-trial the defendant can file for a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment. Very few cases make it to the trial phase.
If you make it this far you may feel like you are in over your head. It really is best to turn to an attorney for help at this point. There are many things that go into making a successful trial. At the beginning you would start by selecting the jury. Followed by opening statements, examination of witnesses, closing arguments, and jury instruction. Once the verdict comes down you have no other avenues to reclaim your money if you lose. You are responsible for all fees, including anything you may need for discovery. The insurance company will have deep pockets for lots of experts to testify during your trial.
Choose Our Charlotte Law Firm for Your Car Accident Case
Since 2005 Rosensteel Fleishman has represented thousands of clients. They will be there with you every step of the way, making sure all timelines and statutes are met and ensuring that you have the best chances at winning your car accident case. Consultations are free and you don’t pay anything up front. Call the lawyers at Rosensteel Fleishman so that you can rest assured your case will be handled appropriately. After a car accident you have a lot to worry about. You don’t want to worry that your lawyer doesn’t have your best interests at heart.