The days after a car accident are crucial as the start of the legal process that can lead to financial compensation. There is a direct connection between your actions these days and your chances of being paid for your accident injuries. There are things that you can do to put yourself in a better legal position. At the same time, you can also hurt your case. The best thing is not to go through this process on your own.
Lawyers can tell you what to do at the scene of a car accident – however, the chances are that, if you are reading this page, you are well past this stage of the process. After all, if you are filing a claim for serious car accident injuries, you were likely not in the proper condition to interview witnesses at the scene or gather evidence to prove your case. This is common, but it means that now, you will need to move quickly to begin the legal process because losing valuable time can hurt your case.
Hire a Lawyer
Perhaps the most important call that you can make after a car accident is to an attorney. Your primary legal right after a car accident is the one to receive financial compensation if you can prove that someone else was to blame for the crash. However, you may need to take many steps before you can prove that. Unless you have the necessary evidence, the insurance company may deny your claim.
Evidence can be lost very shortly after your car accident. Once authorities clear the scene of the accident, you lose some of the physical evidence that you need. Yet, you still must prove that someone else was responsible to recover financially.
Your attorney will get to work immediately to begin to investigate the accident. They will speak with witnesses and work with experts to reconstruct the accident. You need more than just your own word to prove what happened to receive compensation. This is not something that the average person has the skills and expertise to accomplish on their own.
The legal process can be complicated, stressful, and intimidating. The insurance company thrives off of that. They want it this way. They want you to despair and give up, knowing that you are up against the entire apparatus that they have assembled.
Further, there is only so much that you can do yourself after an accident. If you are filing an insurance claim, it means that you suffered injuries and losses. You are dealing with other things, and your attention is elsewhere. You are not in the condition to deal with all of the details. That is what your attorney is here to do.
You may panic after a serious car accident. You are probably wondering how you will get the money to pay for a lawyer, especially when you are missing work. What we can assure you is that you should not worry about that. You will not need to write us a check when you hire us. You will not need to pay lawyer’s fees out of your pocket.
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Get Medical Help
Get checked out medically after your accident. The primary reason to get a full medical evaluation is your health. You never quite know that you have a relatively clean bill of health after an accident until you see a doctor. Meanwhile, some injuries can lurk undiagnosed and get worse without medical treatment.
These can include things like:
- Neck and back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal injuries
Caution is the best way to handle your post-accident medical care. There is nothing wrong with seeing a doctor and getting a clean bill of health. The important thing is to take the time to get medical help because it is what is best for you in the long run.
When you see a doctor, you should tell them your symptoms in as much detail as possible. Do not leave anything else because it can keep a doctor from diagnosing you correctly. There is nothing wrong with talking about your symptoms. Be as honest and extensive as you can. Otherwise, the doctor may not know to run certain tests, and you will not be paid for the injuries that they can have diagnosed.
In addition, medical help is also a must for your legal case. As a claimant, you must take reasonable steps to mitigate your injury. If you delay seeing a doctor or ignore symptoms, the insurance company may try to deny or cut your claim.
Finally, you cannot file a claim until you know the extent of your injuries. Your doctor will diagnose your injuries and document your medical file. This will be part of your insurance claim.
Develop a medical plan after your accident, even if you received treatment at the scene of the accident. If the doctor gave you any treatment recommendations, follow them. Make sure to go to all doctor’s appointments and take all of your medications. If therapy is part of your recommended treatment, carefully stick to the regimen. Not following medical recommendations can give the insurance company an opening to dispute your damages.
Save All Evidence that Your Attorney Might Use for Your Claim
You never know exactly which piece of evidence may be persuasive when it comes to proving fault. Keep everything that you can that relates to your accident. If you are in the condition to do so, write down all of your recollections and give them to your lawyer. If you have any physical evidence, make sure to give that to your lawyer too. Do not assume that something is not relevant and throw it away. It is better to save too much than too little.
Evidence also includes things that can prove damages, in addition to liability.
This can include:
- Information about your earnings from work
- Your medical records
- Details about what you have experienced since the accident, including your pain and anxiety
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Stick to a Consistent Story
The insurance company will keep a detailed file on your claim. This will include any statements along with the rest of the evidence that they can gather. If your story has changed in any way, you can bet that the insurance company will pounce on it. No matter who you talk to, you should count on whatever you say getting back to the insurance company.
Speak to your lawyer right after the accident for advice about what you should and should not say and to whom. When your story changes, it casts doubt on your credibility and can cause the insurance company to question everything that you are saying.
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Prepare Your Claim
You must begin to work on your claim as soon as possible. It takes time to get everything right and to accurately estimate your damages. In addition, the insurance company will be a stickler for detail when you submit a claim. Remember that the insurance company is looking for any reason that they can to either deny your claim or cut what they owe you.
You cannot rush this process of preparing your claim. Your claim should include evidence that someone else was to blame for the accident. It must also include sufficient documentation to show the extent of your damages, understanding that an insurance company is going to question everything.
Carefully Review Any Settlement Offer
Some clients rejoice the day that they receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. This may be a premature celebration. In most cases, this is only the start of your process with them. An initial settlement offer especially is a way that the insurance company tries to test you. They usually do not make their first offer with the intent to settle the claim quickly.
This is why you need to take your time to understand the offer. There are numerous elements of your car accident damages. You should review each line of the settlement offer to understand how the insurance company is valuing your claim. They can undervalue the lost wages that they owe you or the pain and suffering you have endured. These are the two places that insurance companies cut your settlement check the most.
Adopt a Patient Mentality
Car accident settlements do not happen in weeks, and typically not in months either. The legal process takes some time, and you are likely in for a long haul. The most likely time frame for your settlement check is around 12 months. Some cases may take even longer if the insurance company insists on dragging its feet or if your case goes to trial.
Patience is a must if you are going to get fair value for your car accident case. We understand that money is an issue for you while you wait for your check, but you need to take time to let the legal process play out. Otherwise, desperation may cause you to accept less money than you deserve. Try to condition yourself to understand that you need to take all the time that you need to get a reasonable settlement check. You may even need to file a lawsuit, which can take even more time.
What Not to Do After a Phoenix Car Accident
Every bit as important as what to do is what you should not be doing. First, you should resist the urge to handle the claim on your own to save money. While you may not want to give an attorney part of your settlement, you may not even get a settlement at all if you do not have legal help.
A DIY approach to your legal case is hard enough under the best of circumstances. It is even more difficult when you deal with injuries and an insurance company looking for every possible opportunity to be difficult. Never handle anything on your own. This includes having any conversation with the other driver.
The second thing that you should not be doing is talking about the accident. This includes speaking to the other driver’s insurance company. Believe us – they will be trying to speak to you any way that they can. They may even try to trick you. All they need to do is get you on the record saying something that appears to contradict your claim, and they gain the upper hand. Do not speak to anyone that you do not know about what happened. Even then, you should be careful. No matter what, you should never do anything that will admit fault for the car accident. This can end your chances of getting a settlement check.
Finally, you should also be careful about who else you talk to or what you post about the accident or your life afterward. You should assume that if it is out in the public realm, the insurance company will find it. These companies are notorious for doing surveillance on claimants to try to find any inconsistencies. They will then use this as an excuse to deny the claim entirely or reduce the payment. Your accident lawyer will tell you everything that you should not be doing.
After an accident, you need help and cannot do everything yourself. Let an experienced attorney help you. Not only will it greatly improve your chances of the best possible legal outcome in your case, but it will also take something off of your plate that is not naturally suited for you after an accident. You need a car accident law firm that will help you from the moment that you sign on, handling every detail of your claim and fighting hard on your behalf.