How to Navigate the Personal Injury Claims Process: From Filing to Settlement

By Peter DePaolis

So, you got injured because of someone else’s carelessness. You plan to file a claim against their insurance coverage for your losses. You would like a roadmap that explains how to navigate the personal injury claims process, from filing to settlement.

The first step you could take to make this experience easier on yourself is to talk to a Virginia personal injury lawyer about handling your claim so that you can focus on getting better. You would not owe any legal fees until the end of the case, and then, only if you win.

Filing a Claim

You will need to contact the at-fault party’s insurance company and notify them that you intend to file a claim against their insured for your damages. Please note that if you have a lawyer handle your claim, they will do the heavy lifting on the case, not you. They will take care of the multiple steps of taking the claim from filing to settlement. 

Let’s say that your injuries happened in a car accident that someone else caused. You exchange insurance and contact information at the scene, then go your separate ways. After you get medical attention for your wounds, you notify your insurance company of the crash and contact the at-fault driver’s insurer, letting them know that you intend to file a claim against their driver for your losses.

The negligent driver’s insurer will assign a claims adjuster to the case. The adjuster will contact you and try to get you to sign paperwork and give a recorded statement, and they might make a quick, cheap offer to settle the case. You will want to let the claims adjuster know that you have a lawyer, then end the call without agreeing to anything and definitely not giving a recorded statement. Let your lawyer handle things at this point, if not earlier.

The Demand Letter

Your attorney will investigate the accident and collect evidence like the police crash report, your medical records, and your employment records if you have lost wages or if your wounds affect your ability to work. When they have all the evidence and information they need, your lawyer will write a demand letter to the defendant’s insurance company demanding a specific amount of money to settle the case. 

The letter will state the reasons that the insured is liable for your losses, for example, they ran a red light and crashed into your vehicle. The insurance company will respond to the demand letter or ignore it. The possible responses include the following:

  • The insurance company denies liability and denies your claim against their insured.
  • The insurance company blames you for the accident and demands that you pay the losses of their insured.
  • The insurer counteroffers to settle the case for a lower amount.
  • The insurer agrees to pay the amount in the demand letter. This hardly ever happens, so do not get your hopes up for this response. 

Your attorney will respond, based on which of these responses the at-fault driver’s insurance company makes to the initial demand letter. Your lawyer might negotiate with the insurer and eventually reach a settlement. If negotiations reach an impasse, your attorney could file a lawsuit in court seeking an award of damages for your losses. We understand that these many steps could seem daunting. You don’t have to go it alone. You can reach out to a Virginia personal injury attorney today for a free initial consultation. Contact our office today.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.