Car accidents don’t merely shatter glass and windshields. They disrupt your life, given the physical injuries and emotional distress you experience. Not to mention, seeking treatment for sustained injuries is expensive. If you can’t resume working immediately, you’ll also lose wages, aggravating your financial strain. Moreover, pursuing compensation often seems like an uphill battle.
In the midst of all this, confusion and desperation reigns, threatening your potential of getting the deserved compensation. Read on as this article equips you with smart strategies to take control and maximize your claim.
1. Understanding your rights and entitlements
Knowing your rights in the event of a car accident is essential. Below is an outline of typical rights:
- Right to fair compensation: You deserve full financial compensation to cover all losses incurred after the accident, including lost wages, medical bills, future treatment needs, and vehicle repairs.
- Right to choose your doctor: You have the right to select the doctor of your choice to receive high-quality care.
- Right to legal representation: You’re entitled to choose your preferred qualified car accident lawyer for legal counsel. They’ll advise you on how to maneuver the claims process and vouch for your best interests.
Professionals like Johns Creek car accident attorneys can help you understand more of your entitlements. Besides these rights, it helps to understand the kinds of compensation you can receive. Below is an outline:
- Medical expenses: This covers all expenses needed to treat your injuries, including ambulance hiring costs, medicine, and therapy. Injuries are particularly prevalent during crashes, with 4 million victims in 2021.
- Lost wages: Failure to work after an accident denies you wages. Thus, you’ll need compensation for lost income and benefits.
- Pain and suffering: Accidents cause emotional distress. This is recognized and compensated for.
- Property damage: Repairing your damaged vehicle is costly, and you shouldn’t incur this expense from your pocket.
- Diminished earning capacity: Injuries can decrease your earning potential if you can no longer put in the number of hours you used to daily or you’re forced to switch to a lower-paying job.
Knowing your rights and what you should be compensated for helps you embark on the claims process with confidence.
2. Documenting your case comprehensively
Accidents typically impact memory, given the heightened emotions and things you have to handle. That said, it’s essential to gather strong evidence to back up your claims. Below is a list of essential documents to collect and preserve:
- Photos: If you’re able, take quality snaps of the general accident scene, your damaged car, and bodily injuries. It’s also recommended to get close-ups with wide-angle shots to enable analysts to get the gist of what happened.
- Police report: The police usually come to the accident scene to record a statement, where they indicate their observations, road conditions, weather, preliminary analysis, and witness statements. Get a copy of this official report and keep it.
- Medical records: Keep all receipts for payment for treatments and every other medical record, like diagnosis and prescriptions.
Besides these official documents, don’t forget to track your expenses. Don’t overlook expenses like transport costs, over-the-counter medication, purchase of medical supplies and equipment to help you recover from injuries, and miscellaneous ones related to injury treatment. The more thorough you are with documentation, the easier it can be to build your case.
3. Navigating insurance tactics
Insurance companies, having been in the field for centuries, know too well how to trick you into accepting lower compensation than you deserve. Firstly, they may quickly offer a low settlement before you calculate the ideal compensation amount. Rushing to accept this offer, however, may mean far less cash in your pockets than can cover all your expenses.
Another common tactic is shifting blame. If you’re partially responsible for the accident, the payout is generally less than when the other party is fully responsible. Never admit fault. Finally, they may cast doubt on the severity of your injuries. Providing all reports from your doctors will prove the true extent of your injuries.
Negotiating effectively is the key to decent compensation. And it starts with profound knowledge. Familiarize yourself with local car accident laws. Moreover, look into what other victims of similar car accidents were awarded. This way, you’ll have reasonable expectations. For instance, surveys by the Insurance Information Institute reveal that the average settlements for injuries are USD$20,235 and USD$4,711 for property damage.
While at it, strive to keep emotions at bay. While the recent happenings might have been traumatic, causing emotional upheavals, find ways to keep calm when negotiating. It helps you remain objective during the claims process and communicate your predicament and desires in a clear and confident manner. You’d also want to record all conversations with the lawyer, insurance officials, and court personnel. Also, save copies of all emails, texts, and letters you exchange.
4. Seek professional legal counsel
Pursuing claims individually may not be the best option. You’re dealing with professionals who’ve been in the trade for a long time and know how to trap you into meager payouts. Your best bet is hiring experienced car accident lawyers.
For one, they understand the intricacies of the claims process, which you may not be aware of. They also know how to interpret the gathered evidence, use it to build a high-potential case, and negotiate effectively for the highest possible settlements.
Moreover, attorneys help reduce stress on your side as they’ll handle most of the paperwork and negotiations, ensuring you meet all deadlines. Especially when injured, moving to and from the related offices may be too physically and emotionally tasking. Having someone to walk with you through the process gives you the much-desired peace of mind.
5. Strategic timing in filing claims
The timing of your claim can considerably affect the outcome. That said, it’s crucial to know when to initiate negotiations and finalize settlements, as time limits for filing claims generally vary from state to state. In New York, for example, residents must provide a written notice of their claim within 30 days of the accident. Failing to meet deadlines may result in your case being dismissed, so it’s essential to adhere to the specified timeframes.
First of all, don’t wait until you recover from injuries to start gathering evidence. Do this proactively from the time the accident happens. If you’re incapacitated, ask your close friends or family to help you take photos, compile witness statements, and collect police and medical reports.
Moreover, seek medical attention promptly. If you stay for several weeks or months without seeing a doctor, insurance companies can interpret this as your injuries were not very severe, and that’s why you could afford to continue with your normal life after the accident.
Patience is key in this process. It helps to wait until your doctor declares you fully recovered before accepting an offer. It ensures you get an accurate picture of your total medical expenses.
Accidents are characterized by myriad expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. Without compensation, you can get into undeserved financial strain. And that’s the essence of pursuing claims.
While no amount of money can erase emotional pain and trauma, compensation helps make life a bit more manageable. You can seek treatment and go back to the healthy state you were in before the accident. Most importantly, negotiate effectively for the best outcome.