Most lenders require vehicle purchasers to have insurance. But pre-purchase issues are different. In most cases, the car dealership’s insurance policy covers test drive losses. Personal auto insurance policies usually only cover personal, non-commercial losses.
If the driver was not named on the policy, the insurance company usually denies payment. Similarly, if the driver was working for Lyft, Uber, or another ridesharing operator at the time, the personal auto insurance policy usually does not cover a claim, unless the owner had a commercial rider.
This issue illustrates the difference between first-party liability, or legal responsibility, and third party liability, or financial responsibility. Usually, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are legally responsible for car accident damages. But a third party, usually an insurance company, is typically financially responsible for damages. Other vicarious liability theories include respondeat superior employer liability and dram shop alcohol provider liability.
So, before a case goes to court, as outlined below, a Rockford auto accident attorney must correctly identify the responsible party. A mistake in this area is usually not a fatal mistake, which means it can be corrected. However, such errors usually cause costly delays. These delays are unacceptable. Victim/plaintiffs need financial compensation to pay accident-related expenses, like medical bills. They also deserve this compensation, so they can move on with their lives.
Once medical treatment is substantially complete, most Rockford auto accident attorneys send demand letters to responsible parties. These letters usually ask for compensation in exchange for a liability waiver.
If all the issues in the case, such as responsibility for the wreck and amount of damages, are crystal clear, responsible parties, especially insurance companies, usually have a duty to settle claims within a few weeks.
But there are typically some questions in one or both of these areas. Common insurance company defenses in car crash claims include comparative fault, a sudden emergency, and a last clear chance. To one degree or another, these doctrines shift blame for an accident from a tortfeasor to a victim.
Additionally, many responsible parties dispute the monetary amount of damages, mostly the cost of medical bills. These parties usually base their offers on the minimum amount of medical intervention needed. There’s a big difference between the minimum requirement and the amount needed to ensure victim health and safety.
So, to kickstart settlement negotiations, most attorneys file legal paperwork in these situations. That filing has some other benefits as well. For example, a judge orders the parties to conduct discovery. During this process, each side must put all its cards on the table, in terms of claims and defenses. Additionally, most Winnebago County judges refer contested cases to mediation.
Resolving Your Injury Claim
Basically, mediation is a court-supervised negotiation session. Because of this court supervision element, mediation is about 90% successful. In other words, formal mediation usually works even if informal negotiations have failed.
During mediation, each side has a duty to negotiate in good faith. They must want to settle the claim and not just go through the motions. Furthermore, both sides must be willing to compromise. A “my way or the highway” stance is not a good-faith negotiating posture.
So, it’s important for a Rockford car accident attorney to have good negotiation skills. Attorneys must know when to stand firm and when to compromise.
Reach Out to a Diligent Winnebago County Attorney
Accident victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. by calling 815-315-0574. Virtual, home and hospital visits are available.