If you want to win your car accident injury claim, there are some immediate steps to take after the accident. The real question is: should you settle or sue? If you don’t know what to do, read on.
A car accident can be a devastating event with lasting consequences that causes disruption far beyond physical pain. The financial toll can be just as agonizing as the injury itself.
Loss of wages, medical bills, and other costs can mount quickly when you’re sidelined with an injury and unable to go to work.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018, 36,560 people were killed in traffic crashes.
- 1,038 children (14 and younger) died
- 9,378 speeding-related deaths
- 4,985 motorcycle fatalities
- 6,283 pedestrians died
- 857 bicyclist deaths
- 885 large-truck occupants died
While those numbers are grim, the number of people who are injured is far higher. All in all, there are roughly 3 million auto injuries each year in the U.S.
And these are just the numbers that get reported.
The reality is that there are plenty more people who are injured, but because they didn’t feel any lasting pain after the injury or seek medical care, they didn’t realize they were injured until months later.
In these cases, they ended up forced to shoulder the cost of medical care out of pocket and essentially gave up their ability to file a car accident injury claim because they didn’t take the necessary steps and talk to an attorney immediately after the accident.
If you have been in an auto accident, it’s hard to know what to do next. The one thing you SHOULDN’T do is ignore the situation.
The “Gotcha” in a Car Accident Injury Claim
The insurance company’s goal is to pay out as little as possible. If you accept their offer, everything typically ends here. Once you accept the offer, all liability is typically released. You no longer have future recourse. Your claim is dead in the water.
The moral of the story is you can’t be fooled by an offer that looks good on paper. A big number on a check can look good (especially during tough times), but once you tally up the costs of your medical bills and any other associated costs, that number might actually tick you off — especially when you factor everything in, including the time you have to spend dealing with the accident in the first place.
There are often other small ways an insurance company will try to manipulate you when you have a good car accident injury claim.
Have you considered that the resale value of your vehicle is now obliterated? Do you think you’ll have the same resale or trade-in value with an accident on the Carfax report?
The short answer is no.
The insurance company will try to pay only for the repairs — but who has to pay for the decrease in value because there is now an accident on the vehicle report?
Hint: You do. And the cost is typically a far lower trade-in value.
Small, often overlooked, nuances like these are where a good Providence personal injury lawyer can help you maximize the value of your car accident injury claim.
Should You File A Car Accident Injury Claim?
Sometimes, the best option is not to file a claim immediately, which sounds completely counterintuitive.
The first thing you want to do is build your case. When you arm yourself with the facts (meaning evidence), you can often avoid court and have your car accident injury claim settled faster.
The insurance company wants to eliminate liability and mitigate their costs. Part of mitigating costs is avoiding court. Now, with a car accident injury claim, it’s not like you pay any legal fees out of pocket. You’ll be able to retain a personal injury lawyer using a contingency fee structure, which is just another way of saying your lawyer will only get paid if they are successful. Your lawyer’s fee will not come from you — they will be paid a portion of the funds they are able to obtain on your behalf.
Said another way, avoiding court mitigates the costs of the car accident injury claim for the insurance company, which means they can often offer a higher settlement that is paid to you faster than going to trial.
How to File A Car Accident Injury Claim
A valid car accident injury claim requires you to prove:
- The other driver caused the accident
- The accident caused your injuries
- The cost of your medical care, related expenses, and pain and suffering were a direct result of the accident
In order to do that, you’ll need to take action.
Step #1: Gather evidence at the scene
The most obvious information you will need will be the contact information of the other driver (name, driver’s license number, address, email, and phone number) along with their insurance company and policy number.
You should also get the names and contact information of any other witnesses on the scene or passengers in the other vehicle.
If possible, you should use the camera on your phone to take pictures and video of the accident and your injuries. If you are badly injured, ask someone to do this for you.
Step #2: Seek medical attention
Do not refuse medical attention at the scene and do not refuse to be transported to the hospital if you were injured. Explain any pain and injuries you have to the paramedics. Their medical reports will be valuable to your car accident injury claim, so now is not the time to be tough.
If you are not transported to the hospital, go to your primary care physician or to the emergency room immediately and tell them that you were in an auto accident. Refusing or delaying medical treatment will seriously weaken your claim. The insurance company will not hesitate to deny your injury claim. If you delay, they will argue that your injuries weren’t caused by the accident.
Step #3: Obtain the crash report
All medical reports and police reports will be essential to proving your claim.
Statewide Uniform Crash Reports for Motor Vehicle Accidents in Rhode Island can be obtained online or by U.S. Mail.
Note: There is a fee for obtaining these documents pursuant to R.I. General Law § 42-28-37.
Step #4: Notify your insurance company
Nearly every policy has a “notification clause” that requires you to notify your insurance company if you were in an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault.
This is an important step in order to 1) satisfy the requirements of your policy and 2) ensure that your insurance company is notified by you before being contacted by someone else. If the other party gets a lawyer, you don’t want to put yourself in a tough spot if they call your insurance company demanding money and your insurance company doesn’t even know about the accident.
Step #5: Contact a personal injury lawyer
Attempting to collect a settlement on a car accident injury claim by yourself can be an uphill battle.
- Time is not on your side
- The insurance companies have lawyers
- The other party might get a lawyer
The easiest way to get through the process is to have someone incentivized to get you the best possible outcome. The added benefit of a lawyer is that once the insurance companies know that you have one, they typically get right down to business because they know that you have a case, and they know that your lawyer is going to take it to trial.
Do You Have A Car Accident Injury Claim?
If you are searching Google trying to answer this question, you are literally spinning your wheels. If you want an answer now and need help dealing with the insurance companies, the entire process costs you nothing out of pocket. The consultation is free, and if you have a valid car accident injury claim, we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. We only get paid if we are successful.
And we don’t take on cases to lose.
If you want to win your car accident injury claim, contact us today.