First and foremost, if someone else caused your car accident and injured you, you should expect compensation for your injuries and other losses. However, you may not receive the full, fair amount you deserve immediately from the insurance company, and it may take some work to gather evidence and negotiate the fair amount you deserve.
As car accident cases can come with many common pitfalls, you may find it valuable to work with a lawyer. An attorney can help you navigate the car accident claim or lawsuit process from start to finish—and explain everything you should expect.
Get Care for Your Injuries
Let's back up for just a moment. If you've been injured in an accident or think you may have injury symptoms, you should seek care immediately if you haven't yet done so. This is not only crucial for your well-being, but it also works to document your injuries for any insurance claim or lawsuit you may bring.
After all, you can expect the insurance company’s adjuster will try to find ways to lower your settlement. One of the first places they will look to dispute your claim is your record of injury.
They may try to claim that:
- Your injuries aren’t as serious as you say.
- Your necessary or expected medical costs aren’t as high as you claim.
- You made your injuries worse by neglecting your treatment.
So, get care right after the accident and continue to seek any advised course of treatment your doctor recommends.
Complete the Care That Your Doctor Recommends
If your doctor tells you to take certain medications, attend physical therapy, or get other important care, follow through. Getting all the medical attention you need for your injuries is one of the most important things you can do to protect your right to seek compensation.
How a Car Accident Claim or Lawsuit Works
Your car accident could lead to major medical bills, lost time at work, property damage, and other financial hurdles. You could also be dealing with non-financial challenges, such as pain and suffering or even psychological trauma related to the crash. If someone else caused the crash, you could hold them responsible through an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Here’s what you should know about the financial recovery process. You (or your lawyer) may need to do these 3 things:
1. Collect Evidence for Your Case
To recover the appropriate amount of compensation you deserve, you should have solid proof of:
- The driver’s responsibility for the crash
- Your costs and losses that resulted from the accident
You can use several types of evidence for these purposes.
To show what happened during the accident and prove the other driver’s liability, you can point to crash reports, citations the other driver received, eyewitness testimony, dashboard camera footage, local surveillance camera footage, and more. Demonstrating your losses can involve a wide range of evidence. Your medical records, testimony from a doctor or employer, pay stubs and employment records, or other expert testimony could provide supporting evidence of your damages.
2. Negotiate with the Insurance Company
Once you have evidence to back up your claims, you’ll submit your demand for compensation to the liable driver’s insurance company. The insurer may not readily agree to the amount you ask for, so it could take time to negotiate a settlement that you and the insurer can agree on.
3. File a Lawsuit if Necessary
Many cases can settle out of court. However, if negotiations don’t result in an offer that covers your losses, you may want to sue. While you may not want to appear in court, filing a lawsuit can often motivate the other party to settle the case for a fair amount—before you must go to trial.
In some situations, you may want to file a lawsuit immediately and sidestep the negotiations process. A lawyer may recommend this legal strategy in certain situations, such as if the other party lacks insurance coverage.
Watch for Common Car Accidents Complications
Some car accident cases may seem more straightforward than others. However, be aware that any case could come with challenges.
As mentioned, the insurance company may attempt to downplay your injuries or claim that you deserve less compensation than your case warrants. However, you could also deal with unnecessary delays to your case or even flat-out denials to your claim.
If you’re facing unfair insurance tactics, you may want to have a lawyer on your side. They know how to ensure that your case progresses and that your right to seek compensation is protected.
Know That You Can Hire a Lawyer for No Upfront Fees
When it comes to getting legal help, this is an area where many car accident victims don't know what to expect. Many people assume legal fees will cost too much, then attempt to do their best by seeking a settlement on their own.
However, you can get legal help without paying any upfront costs from your pocket. An injury attorney may take your case on contingency, meaning you don't pay anything unless they secure a settlement or award for you.
Their legal fees come as a percentage of your final compensation. When you hire a lawyer, be sure to ask about their percentage rate for contingency fees and what else (if anything) you should expect to pay for.
Many Injury Lawyers Offer Case Reviews
You may not know what to expect after a car accident, but an injury lawyer can help. They can address your questions and concerns during a case review and explain your options. Then, if you agree to work with them, they can get to work seeking the compensation you need to make a recovery.