(Hint: Hire a Car Accident Lawyer!)
No one wants to imagine themselves getting into a car accident, but it’s a possibility you have to be prepared for.
According to a recent report released by Esurance, approximately 77% of drivers have been involved in at least one car accident. On average, a driver will file an insurance claim for damage related to a car accident about once every 18 years. This means that the new 16-year-old drivers on the road today can expect to have at least one accident by the time they’re 34, and stand a good chance of getting into three to four accidents in their lifetimes.
But why do car accidents happen? Some of the most common causes of these accidents include:
- Speeding, which is a factor in 31% of teenage driver fatalities and is the most common cause of traffic-related fatalities for all age groups.
- Alcohol impairment, which results in more than 10,000 fatalities a year.
- Aggressive driving practices, which contribute to about half of all traffic accidents.
- Weather conditions, which are involved in about 22% of all traffic accidents.
- Driver error, which is a factor in a whopping 90% of crashes.
If you get hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you have rights. Get informed about the legal options available to you. For example, a skilled lawyer can help you recover compensation for your expenses as well as for your pain and suffering.
However, exactly how much money you can hope to receive depends on a wide variety of factors. Here are some of the steps you can take to ensure you get the most money possible for your car accident injuries.
Hire a Lawyer
It’s no surprise that this is our top recommendation – but it’s the truth!
The most reliable way to get money from a car accident is to hire a lawyer. Personal injury lawyers have the expertise and knowledge to help crash victims get every penny they deserve. They spend their days negotiating with insurance companies, dueling with defense lawyers, and investigating the why’s and how’s of motor vehicle accidents. They’re dedicated to seeing their clients get compensated for the physical, emotional, and financial injuries a reckless driver caused.
Think you can’t afford a lawyer for your car accident case? Think again! Car accident injury lawyers represent clients on a contingency fee basis. This means clients pay nothing upfront. Instead, lawyers get paid a percentage of the settlement money. The more money they get you, the more they get for themselves, which works out nicely for everyone.
Hiring an experienced car accident injury lawyer is the single smartest decision you can make after a car accident. They’ll equip you with the knowledge and resources you need, guide you through the legal process, and set you on the right track for a satisfactory settlement. But how do they do this?
To prove liability and damages in a car accident case, lawyers need evidence. You can help gather that evidence even before you hire your lawyer. Collecting basic information at the scene of the accident can be a huge help for your case.
Make sure to get the following info:
- Other driver’s name and contact info
- Make, model, and license plate number of the other vehicle(s) involved
- Name of the other driver’s insurance company and the policy number
- Photos/video of all damage involved in the car accident, including all vehicles, road surface, and surrounding area
- Names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident
- Names and badge numbers of any police officers who respond to the scene
You can also help build your case even after you leave the accident scene by keeping all documents and records that relate in any way to your car accident, including:
- Medical reports and bills
- Insurance statements
- The repair bill for your vehicle
- A copy of the police report from the accident
- Invoices and receipts for all injury-related expenses, such as the cost of medication, mobility aids, or accessible home renovations
- Records from your employer about any insurance coverage, missed work, and your rate of pay
There’s simply no such thing as “too much evidence.” The information you gather at a car accident scene and in the days, weeks, or even months after the accident all help your attorney strengthen your case.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
Another way you can help your attorney get the most money from your car accident is by getting a medical exam right away after a car accident, no matter what.
Many people refuse medical treatment at the scene of a car accident because they don’t “feel hurt.” Don’t be one of those people! Just because you feel okay does not mean that you are, in fact, “okay.” It may come as a surprise, but many fatal or seriously life-altering car accident injuries do not present symptoms immediately.
A doctor, however, can spot these injuries and begin treating them immediately, quite possibly saving your life. Let an EMT check you over at the accident, take a ride in an ambulance if the EMT recommends it, and always go see your regular doctor no later than the next day for a full and thorough examination.
Getting prompt medical care is not only important for your wellbeing it also helps you and your lawyer get you the most money from the accident. By receiving treatment right after an accident, you create medical records that show the obvious connection between the crash and your injuries. These medical records can help prove your injuries and how much money you needed to treat them.
Report the Accident and Check Your Coverage
Most states legally require drivers in car accidents to remain at the scene and to exchange information. Additionally, most states require drivers to report the accident to local police within a short period of time, especially if the accident injured or killed someone. For the sake of everyone involved, stay put after a car accident until first responders show up to provide aid and take a report.
You might also need to report the accident to your auto insurance company. Most insurance policies require you to notify your carrier about a covered accident or other event within a relatively short amount of time. Failing to do so could lead to the insurance company rejecting your claim entirely. Check your policy or consult your lawyer for further guidance.
(One thing to remember: when on the phone with any insurance company representative, do not say anything that someone could mistake as acceptance of blame for the car accident, not even “I should have seen him coming” or “He came out of nowhere.” Stick to the facts only.)
Keep Your Accident Off Social Media
Want to share memes with your friends on social media? Go ahead. Want to post pictures of your cat? By all means, knock yourself out! But whatever you do, do not start tweeting about your car accident or posting about how much fun you are having in the days, weeks, and months after you got injured in that accident.
The unfortunate truth is insurance companies and defense attorneys look for any reason at all not to pay you the money you deserve. Social media posts can be their ace in the hole.
“Oh look,” they’ll say, “she went camping after the accident, so her back must not hurt too badly! Oh, and here’s a picture on Instagram of her smiling in a rowboat. Does that look like an injured accident victim to you?”
You get the idea. If you want to get the most money from your car accident, be wary of social media and remember the classic quote, “anything you say can and will be used against you.”
Never, Ever, Say “Yes” to a Settlement Without First Talking to a Lawyer
Want the most money from your car accident case? Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Often, when victims forego legal help and negotiate with insurance companies on their own, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. You may not know what you’re owed or how to maximize your settlement, but it’s our job to!
Insurance companies and defense lawyers will try almost anything to avoid paying car accident victims the money they deserve. One classic tactic involves calling up accident victims right after the accident—within the first 48 hours—and offering a quick settlement to “make things right.” Don’t fall for that trick. This number is always pitifully low, and accepting it closes off your options to seek more later.
The same goes for negotiating one-on-one with the driver who hit you. Many careless drivers will want to keep insurance and lawyers totally out of the picture. Of course they want to avoid consequences, records, or increased premiums. But if the other driver offers you cash or tells you knows someone who can fix your car for free, don’t even entertain this option. You could be left empty-handed when you need to pay medical bills for your car accident injuries that don’t pop up until much later.
Bottom line: Leave it to an experienced lawyer to negotiate on your behalf.
Patience Pays Off
The vast majority of car accident injury cases settle out of court. However, it often takes a while for a fair and reasonable settlement to develop. Your lawyer has a lot of work to do to build up your case and paint a picture of exactly how the accident has impacted your life. They will engage in negotiations and prepare to take a case to trial if necessary. All of this work and time is an investment in the value of your car accident claim, and can result in a big payout if you’re patient enough. Everyone involved needs to have a clear and thorough picture of how much money a client needs and deserves.
In short, getting a fair settlement or a successful jury verdict doesn’t happen overnight. Lawyers for car accident victims frequently undergo multiple rounds of negotiation before a settlement is reached. Often, the highest settlement offers do not materialize until the parties have prepared to take a case to trial, or even after a trial has begun.
Patience is a virtue. It can be hard to “hurry up and wait” when you’re dealing with insurance claims, but the work your lawyer does on your behalf can pay large dividends if you see it through ‘til the end.
Remember, at the end of the day, you control your claim. Only you can agree to a settlement, or decide to reject it and try your luck at trial. A lawyer’s job is to advise you about the best course of action, but the final decision always belongs to you.
Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
If you were hurt in a car accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, you not only deserve help, you’re entitled to it. Contact an experienced car accident injury attorney today to learn more about your options.