Car accidents can cause catastrophic damage – physically and financially – which is why we want you to know how to recover financially after a car accident. Even car accidents that may not appear serious from the outside can result in debilitating injuries to the neck and spine. If you have been injured in a vehicle collision, you are not alone. In fact, statistics reflect that over 3 million people in the United States are injured in car accidents each year. Of those 3 million injured, a whopping 2 million suffer permanent injuries.
Permanent injuries can affect all aspects of your life, from your ability to complete daily tasks, to your ability to keep and maintain a job and an independent income. These financial costs can be great, and many people find themselves in dire need of help as their medical bills increase and their income dwindles. The good news is that if you are in this situation, you do not have to navigate it alone, and there are legal options available to help you recover financially after a car accident. The best option for most people is to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Below, we will go over what steps to take to secure and maximize the best possible settlement.
It is not necessary to call the police for every car accident. However, if your vehicle has suffered extensive damage or if you or the other driver have been injured, it is important to call the police and file a report at the scene. The other important feature of filing a police report is that it creates documentation of the accident, injuries, and damage. If you believe the other driver may be intoxicated or driving under the influence, be sure to mention this when you call the police, and again when you talk to them in person to file a report.
When you talk to the police, also be sure to mention any pain you are experiencing or injuries that you have suffered. Some people feel like they do not want to mention aches and pains unless they are sure that they are an injury, but it is important to mention any possible injuries so that they are documented in the event that they are confirmed as injuries or become worse later on. This is actually quite common because after an accident your body will have a lot of adrenaline running through it, which lessens your ability to feel pain. This means that you may not feel the full impact of the crash until several hours or days afterward.
Additionally, soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, can take three to five days to become fully apparent, until then, they can just feel like aches and pains. In order to recover financially after a car accident, it helps to have thorough documentation from the start.
In the aftermath of a car accident, it can be difficult to think clearly or know what to do. The first thing you should always do is assess your physical condition and do a body scan to determine whether you feel any pain or detect any injuries. If you feel pain, particularly around the spine or neck, or if you are unable to feel any physical sensation, it is generally best to remain still until help arrives so as not to cause further injury.
If you are physically able to move around, before the police come is a good time to collect evidence from the scene. Taking photos and videos of damage to all vehicles as well as the scene of the collision (including traffic signals, tire marks on the road, etc.) can help with the investigation by making it possible for investigators to recreate the scene and determine the liable party. This means that you will be able to recover your settlement faster than you would be otherwise.
Also be sure to collect the insurance information of all parties involved. It can be a good idea to take pictures of their license and insurance card as you may be rattled and likely to make mistakes in writing things down. As a general rule, the more photos and videos you take, the more helpful it will be to investigators.
Even if you are unsure about whether your injuries are serious it is important to be assessed by a medical professional as soon as possible after an accident. As noted above, many injuries are not immediately apparent, and may just feel like aches and pains initially. However, if you wait five days or more until the pain is severe to get medical help, it can be more difficult to get coverage, because the insurance company can claim that an intervening cause that occurred within those five days caused your injuries as opposed to the car accident. Additionally, waiting five days to go to the hospital or see a doctor can make it seem like you weren’t in pain or that the injury was not serious enough to seek medical help. Both of these things work against maximizing your settlement, so start documenting your injuries as soon as possible.
Another thing to consider is that in order to qualify to have standing to bring a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to be able to demonstrate that you have suffered both physical and financial harm. Seeing a doctor can establish physical harm and incurring medical bills and constitute financial harm. For this reason, medical bills, treatment, and documentation, are critical to your claim and to being able to recover financially after a car accident.
Calling a lawyer is a critical step if you want to recover financially after a car accident. Soon after the accident, you will begin receiving calls from insurance claims adjusters who will be asking questions and making settlement offers. It is important to understand that while these insurance claims adjusters may sound helpful, they are not on your side. Even seemingly harmless questions that they ask may be a pitfall that can keep or limit your coverage.
Once you retain a lawyer, they can take over handling negotiations with the insurance companies and negotiate a fair settlement. Often, a settlement offer that sounds good to you initially does not take into account future costs of medical care, and is made before you can possibly have all the facts that you need to determine what a fair settlement would be. A lawyer levels the playing field and ensures that you are getting the full amount of damages to which you are entitled. A lawyer will help you get all the information that you need to determine what a fair settlement would be and will not let you settle for less. This may include multiple doctor’s appointments, an appraisal of your car to determine the true cost of vehicle damage, and other measures intended to get an accurate understanding of your damages.
One of the most important things that a lawyer can do is help you determine what your claim is worth. When you bring a personal injury lawsuit, you can recover various kinds of damages.
The first kind of damages that you can pursue is economic damages. Economic damages cover any costs that you have incurred as a result of the accident. Economic damages can be counted and generally have receipts or documentation that make them easy to calculate. They include things like medical bills, medical treatment, the cost of prescription medication and physical therapy, and lost wages or lost earning potential if you had to miss work or were unable to continue working due to your injuries.
Many people do not realize that economic damages also include anticipated future costs of your injury, for instance, if you will require ongoing care, future surgeries, or will be unable to work. In order to have an accurate understanding of the economic damages that you are entitled to, you will need to have a clear and thorough understanding of your medical condition, which may require talking to multiple doctors. Your lawyer will know how to get this information.
In addition to economic damages, you can also pursue damages for pain and suffering. These damages are meant to compensate you for the physical and emotional trauma caused by the accident and injuries. While these damages cannot be as easily calculated as economic damages, as they do not come with receipts, most courts have formulas that they use to calculate damages for pain and suffering, and they often rely on the amount of economic damages in arriving at the total. For instance, some courts will calculate pain and suffering damages based on the total amount of economic damages multiplied by a factor that correlates with the degree of permanence and severity of the injuries suffered.
In some cases, other damages, such as punitive damages, may also be available. Unlike other damages, which are intended to make the victim financially whole, punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party for particularly egregious or malicious conduct. Some states have a cap on punitive damages, so your lawyer will need to help you determine whether you qualify and how much you are entitled to receive based on typical jury verdicts in similar cases.
Once you have an accurate idea of the value of your claim, your lawyer can help you by managing negotiations with your insurance companies. It is important to note that just by having a lawyer, most insurance companies will make a higher initial settlement offer. However, if the insurance company does not make a reasonable offer, your lawyer can help you navigate the process from there. Your lawyer will have the option to appeal the insurance company’s settlement offer, or to simply sue them in court for the full amount of your damages.
In addition to the insurance company of the negligent driver, there may be other liable parties involved. For instance, if the driver that hit you was driving a company car, their employer may also be a liable party due to the legal principle of respondeat superior. If a third-party contributed to causing the accident, they can also be held accountable.
Additionally, if there were other issues that contributed to causing the accident, such as roads in disrepair, malfunctioning traffic signals, or blocked signs that were not clearly visible, the city, county, or government may also be a party to the lawsuit. In some cases, where a vehicle or component malfunction, such as brakes that failed to work, or steering that locked, the vehicle or component manufacturer may also be joined to the lawsuit as a liable party.
The best way to determine all liable parties to an accident is to work with an attorney. Once your attorney has helped you to determine all potentially liable parties you can bring a lawsuit to recover financially for all of your damages in court. Sometimes, the negligent driver will not have sufficient insurance coverage to compensate you for the full amount of your injuries. In these cases, it may be necessary to identify additional parties to add to your lawsuit so that you are able to recover the full amount of damages that you will need to be made financially whole. It is also important to hold all parties who contributed to causing your accident accountable for the harm.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a car accident that was not your fault, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Kruger & Hodges want to hear from you. A personal injury lawsuit can make you financially whole, but you will need a dedicated and experienced legal advocate on your side to help you navigate the process and get you what you deserve. Contact Kruger & Hodges today to schedule a consultation and find out how we will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.