Suppose you’ve been in an auto accident that wasn’t your fault. In that case, you are likely eligible to file a lawsuit and recoup compensation from the party at fault to help pay for your injuries, property damages, and other expenses. Your end settlement amount will vary depending on numerous factors, most notably the scope of the defendant’s insurance coverage, the severity of your injuries, and the level of treatment you may need moving forward.
Negotiating Auto Accidents: Hire an Attorney
Some people believe that foregoing an attorney will save them money. Ironically enough, that will only save money for the opposition, as claimants who attempt to adjudicate their own case almost inevitably settle for less than their injuries warrant. Others will walk away with nothing at all.
Insurers and opposing counsel start pumping their fists and congratulating each other when you show up without an attorney. That’s because they know you will likely make numerous mistakes, which they pounce on and exploit like rabid wolves. In essence, they don’t even really have to do their job, they just have to wait for you to mess up. In addition, they also know that you are not as likely to take the case to trial if you disagree with the settlement offer, and so they will inherently offer you less.
To be clear, this is simply a matter of experience and industry knowledge. Just because you need an attorney does not make you stupid or incapable; if anything, it demonstrates your intelligence, as there have been many highly-educated individuals (doctors, scientists, professors) who have had their lunch handed to them in court.
Start at the Scene of the Accident
You can actually start preparing your case the moment after the accident occurs. Although police and first responders will likely conduct their own investigations, you can start collecting your own evidence, provided you are healthy enough to do so.
If you’re able to, use your phone to take pictures of the entire accident scene, including damages to all cars involved, street signs or landmarks, damage to any surrounding property, any injuries to you or anyone traveling with you, and any damage to your property (besides your car). You should also try to get the contact and insurance information of the other driver(s), and talk to potential witnesses and see if they’d be willing to give a statement.
Seek Medical Help
After the accident, comply with fire and medical staff and allow them to check you over at the crash site. Be sure to document any care you receive while still at the scene.
Additionally, go to the hospital immediately after police have said you are free to leave, even if you don’t feel pain or it is very mild. When healthcare professionals know you’ve been in an accident, they can perform extensive examinations that may reveal injuries you weren’t even aware of.
Even after you leave the hospital, continue to monitor your health closely. Certain injuries may not develop right away, especially ailments related to the head, back, and neck. The moment you suspect symptoms of a new injury, go back to your physician as soon as possible to get to the bottom of it. Delaying treatment is a big mistake for two reasons: 1) insurers and opposing counsel will question the validity of your injuries if you don’t seek treatment right away, and 2) if there is a gap in treatment, it is much harder to get new treatments approved. Get help up front, and then whenever you need it thereafter.
Documentation is Key
As the ancient proverb goes, the palest ink lasts longer than the sharpest memory. In other words, it’s important to document everything that happens along the way so that nothing is forgotten or left out. In an auto accident case, documentation can take many forms, including personal notes, any dashcam video footage, witness statements, photos, and more.
Everything related to health and medical treatment should be scrupulously documented, including appointment notes, therapy details, and of course, bills and receipts. Note every out-of-pocket expense for treatment, medicine, or therapy. If you document as much as you can, your attorney will have more ammunition to work with in terms of arguing on your behalf, as they will be able to point to every step of the injury process.
Work As a Team and Communicate
Lastly, always remember to work in tandem with your attorney. If you have a question, ask it. If there is sensitive information involved, make sure your attorney knows all about it. If a meeting is arranged, follow through with it. The attorney-client relationship works best when there is complete transparency between both parties. The last thing either of you want is a rogue action that could jeopardize the case, as both parties stand to lose if the case does.
Connect With Elite Personal Injury Attorneys
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident that was not your fault, don’t wait any longer–call the trusted team of personal injury attorneys from Van Law Firm now to get your case started on the road toward compensation and peace of mind. We’ve helped hundreds of motorists get the compensation, treatment, and repairs they need to safely get back on the road. Call the office nearest you for a free consultation and case evaluation.