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How to Get Paid After a Car Accident

How to Get Paid After a Car Accident

Car accidents can plunge you into a difficult and stressful situation. Not only do you have to cope with the shock of the crash and any injuries you suffered, but you also must figure out how to get paid for the damage and losses you experienced.

A car accident lawyer can improve your chances of getting the money you deserve after a car accident.

Let's walk through what to do to get paid, including getting medical treatment, avoiding insurance company traps, and, most importantly, calling a car accident lawyer to fight for your rights.

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Why You Need a Car Accident Lawyer

The most important thing to know is that after a serious car accident, you need to get a car accident lawyer on your side as soon as possible.

Insurance companies have teams of adjusters and attorneys looking out for their best interests, which is to pay you as little as possible. You need someone in your corner protecting your interests and fighting to get you maximum compensation.

A skilled car accident attorney knows all the tactics insurance companies use to diminish and deny claims. They can deal with the insurance company for you, gather evidence to build a strong case, accurately assess the full value of your claim, negotiate aggressively on your behalf, and take your case to trial if needed.

Studies show that car accident victims who hire a lawyer recover significantly more on average than those who try to handle their claims on their own.

So don't go up against the insurance giants alone. Get an experienced car accident lawyer to level the playing field and give you the best chance of getting paid all the money you're owed. It's the most important step you can take.

Get Medical Treatment

Getting medical treatment after a car accident

After calling a car accident lawyer, get medical treatment for your injuries.

Even if you feel okay after the crash, get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible because:

  1. You may have hidden injuries with delayed symptoms that a doctor can diagnose: This is common with concussions, whiplash, internal bleeding, etc. Prompt treatment leads to better healing.
  2. Delaying or skipping medical care allows the insurance company to argue that your injuries aren't that serious: This can drastically hurt your case.
  3. Medical records documenting your injuries and treatment are essential evidence for your claim: Without them, it's very hard to prove your injuries and losses.

Follow all of your doctor's treatment advice, go to all follow-up appointments, and save copies of all medical records and bills. Your car accident attorney will use this to build your case and calculate fair compensation.

Vehicle Damage

In addition to medical bills, you'll also need to figure out what to do about your damaged vehicle after a car accident. The at-fault driver's insurance should pay for repairs or compensate you for the value of your vehicle if it was totaled.

Get a repair estimate from a trusted mechanic or body shop. Keep a record of rental car expenses, too. Your lawyer can make sure the insurance company doesn't lowball you and that you get compensated fairly for your vehicle damage and transportation costs while it's out of commission.

Lost Wages

Serious car accident injuries often cause victims to miss work while recovering. You can include lost income in your insurance claim or lawsuit. A lawyer needs to calculate this loss, especially for the self-employed, those with irregular hours, or people with unique compensation structures.

Gather past pay stubs, tax returns, PTO balances, and any other wage documentation to prove your lost earnings. Your lawyer can demand compensation for all lost wages, even hard-to-quantify ones.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering refers to physical and emotional distress caused by accident injuries. This can include things like physical pain, depression, anxiety, PTSD, loss of enjoyment of activities, etc. There aren't medical bills or receipts for pain and suffering, so many victims don't realize they can demand compensation for it.

A good car accident attorney will know how to gather evidence of your pain and suffering, like medical records noting pain, mental health treatment, journal entries, witness statements from loved ones, photos of injuries, etc.

They can assign a monetary value to pain and suffering and include it in your claim, which can significantly increase your payout.

Beware of Insurance Company Tactics

Remember, insurance adjusters are not on your side, no matter how friendly they seem. Their goal is to protect their employer's bottom line by paying as little as possible for your claim.

Here are some common tactics they use and what to do about them:

  • Quick lowball settlement offers: They may offer fast cash, hoping you'll accept a low amount before understanding the full extent of your injuries and losses. Have your lawyer review any offers before accepting.
  • Asking for recorded statements: They'll look for anything they can use against you later. Politely decline to give a recorded statement and direct them to your attorney instead.
  • Requesting medical authorizations: Signing broad medical releases allows them to dig through your history for anything to use against you. Don't sign anything without your lawyer's approval.
  • Disputing medical treatment: They may question your doctor's advice or argue your treatment was unnecessary to avoid paying for it. Your lawyer can handle these disputes for you.
  • Surveillance: Insurance investigators may watch you to catch you doing activities that contradict your injury claims. Be honest about your limitations, and don't exaggerate.
  • Shifting blame: They may argue that you were fully or partially at-fault for the crash to avoid paying. Your attorney can preserve evidence and protect you against unfair blame.

The bottom line: Let your lawyer handle communications with insurance companies. Your lawyer will protect your rights and make them play fair.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Many car accident victims have pre-existing health conditions like old injuries, chronic pain, arthritis, etc. Insurance companies often use these to deny claims, arguing that your pain is due to the pre-existing condition, not the accident.

Don't let them get away with this. Your car accident lawyer can use your medical records to prove that the crash caused new injuries or made your pre-existing condition worse. Even if you had a condition before, the at-fault driver is still liable for the additional harm the accident caused.

Property Damage

While vehicle damage is the most common property damage in a car accident, you can also get compensation for broken or lost personal belongings.

This could include things like:

  • Cell phones
  • Laptops
  • Eyeglasses
  • Clothing
  • Jewelry
  • Child safety seats

Make a list of any damaged items, gather receipts if you have them, and take photos of the damage. Your lawyer can include the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property in your insurance claim.

You Don't Need Money to Hire a Lawyer

One of the biggest reasons injured people hesitate to call a lawyer is concern that it will cost too much money they don't have. Here's the good news – most reputable car accident attorneys work on contingency, meaning you pay nothing unless they win money for you.

With a contingency fee arrangement, you can get the legal representation you need with no upfront costs. If your case succeeds, your lawyer simply takes an agreed-upon percentage of the insurance settlement or court award. If they don't recover money for you, you don't owe any attorney fees.

You have nothing to lose by consulting a car accident lawyer but potentially lots of money to gain. There's no reason to let financial concerns stop you from getting the legal help you need to get paid.

Negotiating a Fair Settlement

Once your lawyer has built a strong case with evidence of the other driver's negligence and proof of your damages, they'll approach the insurance company to negotiate a settlement on your behalf.

Most car accident claims end in settlements, but it can take some back and forth to agree on a fair amount.

Your lawyer will calculate a full and fair value for your claim, document all of your losses and expenses, and make an initial demand to the insurance company. They'll go back and forth until they reach the maximum amount the insurer will pay. Your lawyer will meet with you to review settlement offers, give their advice, and get your approval before accepting.

An experienced attorney will know when the insurance company hits its limit and advise you if the settlement offer is fair or if you should file a lawsuit instead. Most of the time, they negotiate a favorable settlement without needing to go to court.

When to File a Lawsuit

Filing car accident lawsuit

If the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to continue fighting for the money you deserve. This extends the legal process, but you don’t want to accept an inadequate offer.

The threat of a lawsuit alone is often enough to make the insurance company raise its offer to avoid litigation. If your case does go to trial, your lawyer will present your evidence and arguments to a jury, who will decide fault for the accident and how much money you should receive.

You face strict filing deadlines for car accident lawsuits in your state’s statute of limitations. If you miss the deadline, you lose your legal right to sue. Statutes of limitations vary by state but usually range from one to three years from the accident or discovery of injury.

A lawyer can properly file your lawsuit on time and protect your rights. These deadlines provide another important reason to call an attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

Punitive Damages

In cases involving an at-fault driver's extremely negligent or intentional actions, the court may award punitive damages on top of your regular compensation. Punitive damages punish the wrongdoer and deter similar bad conduct.

A judge may order punitive damages if your accident involved things like drunk driving, drag racing, road rage, or purposely hitting you. Punitive damages can significantly increase the overall value of your case. Your car accident attorney can advise you on whether your situation warrants punitive damages.

When More Than One Party Is At Fault

Sometimes, the other driver isn't the only one to blame for a car accident. Other parties like the vehicle manufacturer, the local government, a construction company, or the other driver's employer could share liability. This means you can file claims with multiple insurance policies to increase your potential compensation.

You may have an additional claim against the other driver's employer if they caused the crash while working or against a bar that overserved a drunk driver.

These situations get legally complex, so have a car accident lawyer investigate your accident and identify every potentially liable party and insurance policy in play. The more compensation sources they uncover, the better your chances of recovering maximum payment.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney ASAP

We've covered a lot of information on how to get paid after a car accident, but the key takeaway is that you need to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to have the best chance of getting the money you deserve.

Gathering evidence, building a case, negotiating with insurers, filing a lawsuit if needed - it's all a lot to handle alone, especially when you're injured and stressed. Let a skilled attorney take the burden off your shoulders and fight for your rights.

Don't wait - the sooner you call a lawyer, the sooner you can start getting compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, vehicle damage, and other losses.

You have nothing to lose and potentially lots of financial relief to gain.

Most car accident lawyers offer free consultations, so reach out now to discuss your case and learn your legal options.

Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert - Owner & Attorney

Attorney Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert was seriously injured in a collision and experienced firsthand dealing with uncooperative insurance companies. She knows what it is like to feel overwhelmed and under-educated about your rights after a collision. That is why she has dedicated this firm to fighting for accident victims and their loved ones. The goal of The Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore LLC is to provide you with excellent legal advice, based on our experience in representing injured automobile drivers and passengers from all across the State of Georgia.

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