Car accidents are extremely stressful, not to mention dangerous, situations. No one wants to have to deal with damages to their car, much fewer injuries, and these things can become even more frustrating if you believe the accident was caused by another driver’s fault or negligence. You’ll naturally want reimbursement for money spent on repairs and medical bills, and you may even be entitled to compensation for missed work or future damages in cases of longer-term injuries.
Of course, in most cases, this compensation will be coming from an auto insurance company, and they aren’t known for handing over money easily. You’ll need to have strong evidence when you file your claim, and you may even need to get an attorney involved. Each car accident case is unique, so it can be hard to estimate how much each claim will be worth, but there are some steps you can take to improve your chances for a successful settlement.
It’s crucial that you remain on the scene following a car accident. Your first step should be to check all vehicle occupants for injuries, assuming you’re able to do so. Police and medical services may need to be called depending on the severity of the accident. You’ll need to exchange insurance and license plate information with the other driver, and it’s important that you don’t admit fault during this process. Apologizing for the accident can be construed as an admission of guilt.
You’ll need to collect as much information as possible about the accident, as well as speak with any witnesses. They may be able to give you more information as to the cause of the accident. Photograph any vehicle and property damages, and if you have injuries from the accident, you should photograph those as soon as possible as well. Most cellphone cameras will be fine, and even if you don’t have much space, you can store pictures in the cloud. If the police are involved, their report will likely be useful to you later as well.
You should seek medical attention as soon as you can after a car accident, for many reasons. First, this gives you your best chance at a quick recovery. Immediate attention also means you might be able to catch less obvious injuries that show delayed symptoms. This is common with head injuries. Getting immediate care also gives you the opportunity to prove the extent of your injuries and that they all came from the accident. If you wait to be treated, the other party’s insurer may try to discredit your claim by saying you suffered your injuries at a later time.
In addition to treatment, you’ll also need to report the accident as soon as you can. States have their own regulations about reporting accidents to the DMV, but you should always inform your own insurance company. This is a show of good faith, and it lets them evaluate the value of your damages, so you can think about how to proceed.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of filing an accident claim on your own, or you’re having difficulty with the process, you can always hire an experienced accident/injury attorney. This is especially recommendable in cases involving severe injuries and thousands of dollars in costs. If you are unable to reach a settlement outside of court, you may have to file a lawsuit against the other driver’s insurance company. You can find more information on this process at lawsuitinfocenter.com.
Insurance companies generally prefer settling out of court due to the time, expenses, and other complications involved in a lawsuit, but don’t settle for a lowball offer if you believe it’s unjust. An attorney can advise you on how much your case could be worth and whether further legal action is wise to pursue.