Kansas Car Wreck Settlement Process – Part 2
CLICK HERE to read part 1 of – Kansas car wreck settlement process continued below
Within 1 month of the collision
1. Continue to collect evidence that proves fault: Even if the defendant’s insurance company accepts the fact that their client was at fault, you will need evidence to prove the value of your losses. If they deny the fault, which is a more likely scenario, you will need evidence to prove fault. In either case, it is imperative to have documentary and photographic evidence of injuries and property damage. Here is the paperwork you will need:
- Copies of your medical expenses and records.
- All evidence of lost income, including past tax returns, employer statements, pay stubs, bank account statements.
- Documented evidence of expenses incurred to treat injuries and to correct property damage if any.
- Copies of all receipts and bills of all payments made that were linked to the personal injury and property damage claim such as money spent on rehabilitative treatment and gear, travel expenses, cost of medication, etc.
- Photographs taken at various stages of recovery from the day of the collision to the point of maximum recovery (even if it is not complete recovery)
The one thing to remember here is that the insurance company on the other side will try their hardest to discredit all your claims and most of the evidence you provide. In fact, if they are denying your claim, you can count on things getting complicated in the very near future. If that is their approach, get in touch with us at once.
2. Get the police report: Your Kansas uniform crash report, which is a document prepared by the law enforcement officers at the scene, should be ready for release within 14 to 21 days of the collision.
You will need this report because it is treated as an unbiased account of what transpired. Get in touch with the officer in charge/responding officer to understand how and when you can get this report. The only time this report takes longer to be prepared is if the incident is still under investigation.
3. Take a guarded approach when talking to the insurance company: By this time, you will be approached by the insurance company. As stated above, you are required to cooperate with your own insurer. If your claim only goes up to PIP coverage, we advise that you give your insurance company the information they ask for (only facts related to the wreck and the injuries sustained).
If your claim exceeds PIP coverage or if your claim is against the other motorist, do not execute a health release. The insurance adjuster will, no doubt, coax you to do so. But, we ask that you leave that procedure for our lawyers to handle. Our attorneys will provide all relevant medical records to the insurance company when we file a demand.
If you sign an authorization or a release, it will give the insurance company access to your complete medical history. If that happens, you can be very sure that they will nitpick through it till they manage to create a connection between your current injuries and a pre-existing medical condition. So, don’t sign anything unless you speak to our lawyers.
Within 3 months of the collision
1. Get to the point of maximum recovery: Even if it takes you longer to heal completely, by the 12th week, you will either:
- Get to the point of maximum recovery or
- At the least, your doctor will be able to diagnose the future impact of your injuries and the amount of time it will take you to achieve maximum recovery.
If you are seeking compensation for personal injury, it is imperative that you do not settle your claim till you know the precise extent of your injuries and their impact on your personal and professional life.
Some injuries tend to get worse with time and if you settle too early, you may have to foot the medical cost of additional treatment. For instance, ligament damage around the spine can eventually lead to dislocated vertebrae, which can lead to spinal damage over time.
So, the pain you feel in the back or the numbness and tingling can be more than just shock or even a sprain. This may not be evident within the first 2-3 weeks of the collision. Do not rush through the claims process.
2. File your claim: Although Kansas Laws give you 2 years to seek compensation for your losses after a car wreck, it is best to file your claim as soon as possible. However, you should have a clear idea about the damages already incurred as well as the value of your future losses, such as loss of income due to long term or lifelong incapacitation and extended rehabilitative care.
You can also seek restitution for the pain and suffering you have endured. However, calculating this non-economic component is not as simple as adding the figures in all your medical bills, etc.
Every personal injury claim is different, so this, again is a job best left to the experts. We strongly recommend that you contact our team of experienced attorneys because they know how to accurately evaluate the cost of the damages and injuries you have suffered.
3. Send a demand letter: Once you are reasonably sure about the true extent of your injuries and have evaluated your damages to the fullest extent, it is time to draft the demand letter. This document should:
- State the amount you believe to be the value of your claim.
- Explain why you are entitled to your claim with copies of expenses incurred to support your demand.
- Provide evidence of your injuries and damages (medical records, photographs).
- Outline how the other motorist caused/was responsible for the collision.
Before you send this settlement demand package, decide on the minimum settlement amount that you would be willing to accept. Always quote more than this amount because no matter how fair the value of your claim, they will negotiate. So, give yourself some room to haggle.
Our experienced attorneys can prepare the settlement demand package for you. They have drafted hundreds of such letters and they make sure that a clear message of “We mean business” is sent out at the very outset. Often, our demand letters result in a higher payout for our clients than if they were to handle this process unrepresented.
Within 6 months of the collision
1. Expect a lowball offer: The insurance company will assess your settlement demand package and get back to you with an offer. As explained earlier, expect this figure to be way lower than the compensation you have demanded.
2. Do not accept the first offer: It will serve you to remember that the first offer is by default just a test to check
- If you know the actual value of your claim.
- How badly you need the money to treat yourself or make up for lost income.
Respond to it by highlighting why the amount is too low by using the explanations given in your demand letter pertaining to the severity of your injuries and the accountability of the other driver. Wait to see if they budge from their offer, if not and you are very sure that you want to settle, go for an amount that is in between their offer and your demand.
3. If a settlement is reached: If you and the insurer agree on the settlement, you will get a settlement check after signing a release of claims. If the insurer is offering to pay you the maximum coverage amount of the policy held by the plaintiff, get a written consent from your own auto insurance carrier.
If you don’t do this, you will lose your right to claim further damages from the UM/UIM part of your coverage. At this point, you also need to ascertain that the negligent driver does not have any other assets/insurance policies that can cover the remainder of your damages.
4. If you do not agree on the settlement amount: If the negotiations fail, then your next option is to file a lawsuit.
Within 6 months to 1 year of the collision
1. File the lawsuit: You are not legally barred from handling your own personal injury case, but it is near impossible for someone with no legal experience to get through the process. So, once again, your interests will be best served if you get in touch with one of our attorneys at this time.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the other party has 30 days in which to file their answer to your claim. However, an extension may be provided by the court.
2. Discovery: Think of this as the first step of the pre-trial procedure. Discovery involves the exchange of information about the collision and the injuries. Contrary to what’s depicted in TV shows, discovery is not just about both parties sitting at the table and explaining their version of the story on record.
Witnesses and experts will be called by both sides. This is the point at which the other side weighs their chances of winning against you if the matter does end up in court.
3. Mediation: This is a court ordered negotiation, and the last chance for both sides to settle before the matter is heard by the court. A neutral lawyer acts as the mediator and your lawyers and the adjuster for the insurance company will be present during mediation.
Within 12 to 36 months of the collision
If the mediation process does not yield the results you expected, the next step is to go through the trial process in which the matter will be tried before a jury or a judge.
Depending on how effectively your attorney manages to attract jury sentiment in your favor, you may receive another offer from the insurer. The last thing they want to do is to wait for the jury to deliver a verdict that entails a larger payout.
A skilled attorney will be able to guide you on whether the offer made is good enough and your chances of getting more from a court verdict.
Receiving your compensation
When you get your compensation will depend on how the matter was settled. For example:
- If the matter was tackled through a pre-trial settlement, the defendant will usually pay within 20-30 days. Your agreement will include the time period in which the insurance company must settle the claim.
- If the matter goes to court and you receive the compensation through a verdict, the insurer will pay within 30-60 days after the final judgment.
DeVaughn James can turn the tide in your favor!
If just reading all of that has overwhelmed you, imagine how tedious and mentally taxing it will be to do it all on your own!
You do not have to get into the ring alone! Our firm has the legal know-how, the grit and perseverance to not just see you through it all but to ensure that your right to compensation is NEVER undermined.
At each step, our priority and our commitment is to get you the restitution that you seek and are entitled to. Do not burden your already injured body and traumatized mind with the nitty-gritty of the settlement process. Contact us today and leave the legality to the lawyers.