Sadly, car accidents are a part of life, and every day countless people suffer a debilitating injury or lose their lives in one of these crashes. However, if you have gone through this ordeal, you must understand your options for securing compensation for your harm and losses.
This blog post will help you understand your available remedies following a car accident. Below we review everything you need to know about car accident settlements, including the settlement process, factors that influence the amount of money you can receive, and how an experienced car accident attorney can help you get the money you need.
The Basics of a Car Accident Settlement
A settlement is an agreement between the wrongful party or the insurance company and the survivor that resolves a dispute without going to trial. In general, the wrongful party must compensate the survivor once the parties agree on the settlement.
Settlements differ from a court verdict because settlements can come anytime before or even once the trial has started. However, you want a lawyer to negotiate your car accident settlement.
Following an accident, reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer has the skills, knowledge, and resources to take on these negotiations and fight for the compensation you deserve.
The Steps You Must Take After an Accident to Help Your Settlement
While taking action after a car accident is not always possible, the things you do after an accident can help you stay safe and protect your legal rights. As a result, after a car crash:
Call 911 Right Away
Following a motor vehicle accident, you should contact the local authorities immediately. If you cannot do this yourself, have someone around you call. Calling is the fastest way to alert the police and medical personnel of the collision and your injuries and get your accident on record.
After the police arrive at the scene and perform their preliminary investigation, they can write down their findings in their police report. The police will also oftentimes investigate and document any automobile insurance that may be applicable to your claim. If you decide to pursue legal action against the wrongful party, this report can provide your car accident attorney with helpful information they can use to pursue a fair settlement offer.
Take Photos and Videos of the Scene
If you can, take photos and videos of the accident scene following the crash.
Include pictures of:
- Your visible injuries or bruising,
- The vehicles involved in the accident,
- Damage to the cars,
- The placement of these vehicles on the street,
- Traffic signs, signals near the area,
- Skid marks on the road,
- Road problems,
- Weather conditions, and
- Any other evidence that helps show what happened.
Speak With Those at the Scene
Try to get information from those involved in the crash, including their names, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. Plus, if others were at the scene, get their contact details. These witnesses can often offer you and your lawyer helpful information regarding the accident and provide testimony that can validate your case. Do not rely on the investigating officers to record the contact information for any witnesses. Oftentimes these witnesses are the only evidence you may have that the other driver was at fault.
However, as you discuss the situation with others following the crash, watch what you say. Your comments can hurt your case and the amount of money you receive. For these reasons, after an accident, avoid taking the blame for the accident, making definitive comments about what happened, apologizing, or minimizing your injuries.
Visit a Medical Professional for an Exam
After the collision, you will also want to get checked out by a medical professional. Although you may believe your injuries are minor at the crash, they can develop into something more debilitating, especially if you suffered a traumatic brain injury where symptoms can take some time to manifest.
In addition, these healthcare professionals can also provide you with a medical report that can show a link between the car crash and your injuries and provide proof of the extent of the damages you suffered. It is crucial that you pursue your treatment in a timely fashion, and also that you pursue all recommendations for treatment that your providers recommend.
Once you get the required care, you will want to present all this evidence, including the police report, medical report, bills, expenses, and any photos you took to your attorney. These legal professionals can use this evidence to prepare the strongest legal case on your behalf and go after your needed compensation.
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The Financial Damages You Can Recover Following a Car Accident
Automobile insurance covers damages when you are involved in a collision. This insurance is a contract where a motorist agrees to pay a premium, and the insurer agrees to pay for certain things covered in the policy if the motorist is in an accident. This accident compensation generally includes medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
However, because each accident is different, there is no exact formula for determining how much money a motor vehicle accident survivor can receive after a collision.
Rather, there are often numerous factors that can affect the value of a claim and impact the amount of money you can receive, including:
- The severity of your injuries and the accident
- The cost of reasonable and necessary medical treatments now and in the future
- The available insurance and policy limits
- The number of people involved in the accident
- The wrongdoer’s culpability
- The credibility of the evidence and witnesses presented
- The ability to work following the accident and lost wages
While more severe injuries will often result in a higher payout, obtaining this money is challenging. Before taking on these settlement negotiations, reach out to a knowledgeable car accident attorney for assistance. These legal professionals can determine which factors can impact your claim, prepare a solid legal case in response to them, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit Following a Car Accident?
Even though most of these car accident claims will be resolved before heading to trial, depending on the severity of your injuries and the negotiation process, there is a chance your attorney may advise you to take your case to court. Yet, time is not on your side when filing a lawsuit after a car accident.
According to the statute of limitations laws, which dictate the amount of time you have to file a suit following an alleged offense, if you sustained injuries in a car crash in Nebraska, you will often have up to four years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. However, this period can be as short as one year if any applicable exceptions to this rule apply, such as if you were injured by a government employee or medical professional.
As a result, following a motor vehicle collision, you should not wait to reach out to an experienced automobile accident attorney. These lawyers can promptly review the facts of your accident, determine how much time you have to file your suit, and track settlement negotiations to ensure you do not miss your deadline to submit a lawsuit if required.
Accepting the First Settlement From the Insurance Company
Since people often assume that because they have insurance to help them get back on their feet after an accident, the insurance company will assist them following a motor vehicle collision. However, this is not usually what happens. The insurance company’s primary job is to look out for their interests, not yours, and in the insurance world, paying you less means the more money they make. Consequently, these insurers and their adjusters will try to do everything they can to deny your claim or pay you less than you deserve.
For instance, one tactic insurance companies use is to provide you with a meager settlement offer shortly after your accident. They only do this because they know you are more likely to accept less money than you deserve in your vulnerable state, often without verifying whether this amount is fair.
Plus, if you accept this offer and discover later that this settlement does not cover all of your current and future expenses, you will not be able to ask the insurance company for more.
Moreover, there is a possibility that if you accept a settlement from the at-fault insurance company, you may fall into a trap that insurers often lay which will prevent you from seeking any additional recovery from your own insurance policy which may have been available to you.
For these reasons, before you accept any amount of money from the insurance company, you should reach out to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as you can. These legal professionals can help you verify whether an offer is fair, and if not, they can go back to the insurance company and fight for more.
How Can a Knowledgeable Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney Help You with the Car Accident Settlement Process?
Even if a car accident was not your fault, getting the money you need for your losses and injuries is not easy, and taking on the insurance company can be an overwhelming and stressful process. Fortunately, you will not have to fight alone with an experienced car accident attorney on your side.
Instead, when you retain a legal professional, they can:
- Review the facts of your accident with you, figure out if you have a viable legal claim you can pursue, and go over your legal options.
- Go over your concerns regarding this settlement process and obtain the money you need.
- Analyze your accident and secure the evidence needed to show fault and the extent of your damages.
- Hire experts to substantiate your case, including financial specialists, doctors, and accident reconstructionists.
- Take on the insurance companies and fight for a fair settlement offer.
- Proceed to trial, if necessary, and go after the maximum compensation you deserve.
Following a car crash, do not try to take on insurers yourself. Instead, reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney for your free case consultation and discover how a skilled legal team can help you fight for the justice and compensation you need.