After being injured in a car accident, you could qualify for compensation from the at-fault party. To protect your right to compensation, you must take specific steps to preserve evidence and build your case. Safeguarding your claim boils down to persistence, documentation, and patience. It also makes sense to turn your case over to a legal representative who focuses on motor vehicle accidents. That way, you stand a better chance of receiving all the compensation you deserve and need.
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If you, a passenger, or anyone else at the scene sustained injuries, call the paramedics immediately. Other than doing the right thing, another reason to call 911 is to better avoid accusations of negligent behavior from the other driver.
Even if no one endured bodily injuries, it’s still a good idea to call the police to the accident scene to make a police report. If the at-fault party denies what happened or the two of you have conflicting stories, the police report could become essential to building your case. Once you get the police report, review it for inaccuracies. Request revisions from the authorities if you notice mistakes.
Document the Scene
While waiting on the police to arrive, document the scene. Specifically, take images of all cars involved in the accident, the damage to both vehicles, images of injuries sustained, nearby street signs, and even the weather. If you notice skid marks on the road from the accident, snap a few images of those, too. Do not forget to take pictures of the inside of your damaged vehicle and your injuries, too. You want detailed images that tell the story of the accident’s aftermath.
Witnesses may also help paint a picture of what happened before, during, and after the car accident. Take statements from anyone who saw the collision, and get their contact information. Let witnesses know they may make written statements if they don’t feel comfortable giving verbal statements.
Do Not Admit Fault
No matter whether you may think you contributed to the accident, do not admit fault. Not only may admitting fault harm your case, but you must also consider that you do not know all the circumstances of the accident. For instance, a brake defect could cause a car accident, or perhaps a lack of road maintenance triggered the unfortunate event. Even if you may have contributed to the accident, you may still have a right to compensation. Let your legal team and insurers get to the bottom of what happened while you focus on getting better.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine after a car accident, have a doctor look you over. Some injuries take days or weeks to show up, and adrenaline may mask some injuries. Doctor’s notes, treatment records, and medical bills document the extent of your harm (both physical and financial) and help support your case.
Another reason to seek medical attention is to save on the administrative cost of reviewing your legal case. Medical records also make it hard to deny your physical condition and create a foundation for your settlement claim.
Follow whatever orders your doctor gives you regarding restricted activities. You don’t want to worsen your condition, and you don’t want to give an insurance company a reason to think you did not injure yourself as badly as you claim. Their doubts could jeopardize your right to fair compensation.
Think Twice About Accepting the First Insurance Offer
When an insurance company makes an initial settlement offer, you don’t have to accept it. Usually, the first offer does not cover the full extent of your injuries or the damage to your vehicle. By accepting the initial offer, you may limit your right to full compensation. Insurance companies often make lowball offers to save money and scare injured parties into giving up their rights. Before accepting any offer, have a car accident lawyer review it and your case.
Get Auto Repair Estimates
Once a doctor checks you out, have an auto mechanic check your car out. Even though an insurance adjuster may request an independent inspection, you have the right to gather your own estimates from two or three auto shops. That way, you have a well-informed idea of how much to seek in auto repairs.
Work With a Car Accident Lawyer
While we already mentioned working with a car accident lawyer to protect your rights, you deserve to know why. Legal representatives understand all your rights after a car accident, and they know how to protect those rights. A car accident lawyer also helps you understand how to make the most of the evidence you gathered at the accident scene.
Do you know whether multiple parties caused your accident? If so, you could have more than one source of compensation. For instance, a car or parts manufacturer and the other driver may all play a part in the injuries you sustained.
Another reason to turn your case over to a legal representative is so you have someone to speak to all insurance companies involved in your case. You don’t want to risk saying the wrong thing or letting the insurance company use your words against you. By letting an attorney handle correspondence, you don’t need to worry about every word you say to an insurance representative. Instead, you may focus on recovering from your injuries and getting back to your routine.
Know What Compensation You May Pursue
You deserve to know all the damages you may pursue after an auto accident. Examples of common medical expenses resulting from a car accident include ambulance fees, physical therapy, permanent disability, medical professional consultation, disfigurement and in-home medical services.
Depending on your injuries, you could qualify to be compensated for pain and suffering. For instance, you may struggle to drive or ride in a car after your accident because of post-traumatic stress disorder. You may also experience anxiety or depression because of your injuries. Either way, you deserve compensation for your mental anguish. Unlike economic damages, you cannot easily calculate non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Instead, the basis of such damages is the severity of the pain suffered, injury type, and your future pain prognosis.
Your injuries may keep you from working and earning a living while you recover, recuperate in the hospital, and address new mobility issues. Even if you can still hold a job while recovering, you may need to miss work to make physical therapy appointments. No matter the reason for your lost wages, you must prove how your car accident injuries decreased your ability to earn a living in the future. You and your legal representative may prove your damages with past earnings.
Loss of companionship or affection damages attempt to compensate you for your inability to show your spouse affection because of your car accident injuries. One major difference between loss of companionship and other damages is the uninjured spouse claims loss of affection damages. If you do not recover damages for your car crash injuries, your spouse may not recover loss of companionship damages. Other than an uninjured spouse, surviving family members of a person who died in a car accident may claim loss of society damages.
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