A car accident is a pesky event that no one wants to deal with. It always comes unexpectedly and is never pleasant for anyone involved. But, unfortunately, it’s a possibility everyone must be prepared to encounter at least once in their lives.
According to research, 78% of drivers have been involved in at least one car accident. Every driver will experience at least one accident and file an insurance claim, on average, about every 18 years. So, that means a driver who gets their license at 16 years old will have at least one accident by the time they are in their 30s. Most people experience a lifetime average of about 3 to four car accidents, but some have fewer, and others have more.
After sustaining injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you need to understand your legal rights. You can recover fair compensation by educating yourself on your legal options and staying in the know about the claims process. A Florida car accident lawyer can help you get compensation for your losses and pain and suffering.
Hiring a lawyer can help you determine a fair amount for your injury claim value. Below are the steps you can take to ensure you get the most financial reimbursement for car accident damages.
Hire an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
Perhaps the most reliable way to recover the most money after a car accident is by hiring an experienced attorney. Finding a good lawyer with experience, expertise, and a history of winning car accident cases is highly advantageous. They are familiar with negotiating with insurance companies and devising strategies to win against defense lawyers. Furthermore, they usually have the connections and resources to conduct a thorough investigation and gather supporting evidence for your case.
Most importantly, a good lawyer will consider their client’s best interests. That means they will fight to get the maximum compensation possible for their client’s physical, mental, emotional, and financial losses.
Many people worry they can’t afford a lawyer for their car accident case. However, most car accident lawyers and personal injury lawyers work based on a contingency fee. That means you don’t pay unless you win. Then, you will pay your attorney a percentage of your financial award.
Getting strong legal representation can mean all the difference for a successful case outcome. Read on to find out how your attorney will guide you through the legal process and set you on the right track for maximum compensation.
Gather As Much Evidence As You Can
Your attorney will want to gather evidence to help prove the other party was negligent. By proving they were negligent, you can establish liability and damages. You can do your part by gathering evidence before meeting with a lawyer.
Some basic information that can serve as evidence can be tremendously helpful to your case. Examples of evidence include:
- Contact information of all drivers involved in the accident
- Car details of all parties involved
- Make and model
- License plate number
- Insurance information for all drivers involved, including their policy numbers
- Pictures and videos of:
- The accident scene
- Damages to your car and other cars
- The surrounding areas
- Your injuries
- Anyone else’s injuries from the accident
- Witness contact information
- Names and officer badge numbers of the responding officers
Once you leave the accident scene, be sure they get documentation or keep records for all the following:
- Medical bills and any medical-related documents
- Statements from insurance
- Repair expenses for car damage
- A copy of the official police report for the incident
- All expenses related to accident injuries (e.g., medication, assistive devices, mobility aids, home renovations for accessibility)
- Proof of missed work and how the value of your lost wages, usually through a letter from your employer
There’s no such thing as too much evidence. The more information you can gather, the better. Additionally, the sooner you gather evidence after the accident, the better.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention Without Delay
You’ll want to get medical attention right away after an accident. Sometimes people refuse medical attention at the accident scene because they don’t feel any pain. However, the adrenaline after a crash can often mask pain. Or, certain injuries take time to show up and can have a delayed onset of symptoms.
When you leave the accident scene, getting a medical examination will ensure you identify and treat any injuries immediately. That will prevent further damage and serve as medical documentation as evidence.
If a first responder at the accident scene recommends taking an ambulance for your injuries, it’s best to follow their professional opinion. As a general rule, you shouldn’t wait longer than one day after the accident to see your physician. But, if that’s not possible, get an appointment as soon as you can.
Getting immediate medical care will show the connection between the accident and your injuries. If you wait too long to get treatment, insurance companies might claim that your injuries are not that serious or that you didn’t take them seriously enough to get prompt medical attention. As such, getting medical care right away will help you get the most money from your accident claim.
Stay Put And Contact Your Insurance Provider to Notify Them of the Accident
In most states, including Florida, you are legally obligated to stay at the accident scene until the police arrive. In addition, if anyone was injured or killed in the accident, you are legally obliged to report it to the police.
After you speak to the police and leave the accident scene, you should report the accident to your insurance company. Most insurance providers require you to notify them within a certain time. Failing to do so could mean the company rejects your claim. Again, your attorney can help you check your policy’s specific guidelines.
And remember, when you speak to the insurance company, don’t apologize or say anything that could be mistaken for an acceptance of fault. For example, refrain from saying anything like “I should have seen them coming” or “they came out of nowhere.” Instead, just stick to the facts of the incident.
Stay Away From Social Media During Your Claims Process
While it’s understandable to want to vent or express frustration about the accident, it’s best not to do it on a social media platform. In fact, you shouldn’t share anything about your personal life or any details about your case online. Why? Because insurance companies and defense attorneys sometimes try to use your words against you.
For example, if you share a post about going camping a few days after the accident, they might assert that you were not injured. Or at least not enough to hold you back from engaging in an outdoor, physical activity like camping. If you post a picture of yourself smiling and hiking, they will use those to say your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim.
If you want to get the most money from your accident claim, don’t inadvertently jeopardize your claim through social media. Insurance companies are profit-driven businesses looking for any way to pay you the minimum amount they can.
Don’t Accept Any Settlement Offers Until After You Speak With an Attorney
Be sure to speak with your attorney before you accept any offers. Sadly, accident victims sometimes settle for less than what they deserve. For example, they might think an initial offer seems fair because it’s a relatively large amount of money compared to what they are used to getting paid at once. But that doesn’t mean it’s a fair amount or what you deserve.
Many injury victims don’t know their claims’ full or fair value. That’s why a legal professional can help you determine a fair value and seek that amount. Unfortunately, insurance companies often use a tactic to contact injury victims immediately after the incident (usually within 48 hours). This is done intentionally, so you don’t have time to think or consult with an attorney. Moreover, their initial offer is usually a lowball offer.
Likewise, don’t negotiate with the at-fault driver. Sometimes the at-fault driver will try to offer you an under-the-table settlement to keep insurance companies out of the picture. That’s because they want to avoid increased premiums and accidents on their record. However, if the other driver offers you cash, it’s best not to take the offer. It’s likely less than what you could win through a fair injury claim. You could even be left with nothing if you accept an offer that’s too low and experience delayed injuries, symptoms, and medical expenses down the line.
Most car accident injury victims can settle their cases out of court. But sometimes, it’s necessary to go to trial. Even if you don’t need to go to court, reaching a fair or reasonable settlement can take a while.
Your Florida car accident attorney needs to build a case to paint a picture of what happened and how the accident has affected your life. Their work and time are all an investment in increasing the value of your accident claim.
Even if the process gets dragged out or takes longer than you’d hoped, stick with it. With patience and perseverance, you could find yourself getting a big payout. A fair settlement or financial award doesn’t come about overnight. It requires multiple rounds of negotiation and sometimes taking the case to trial, which requires preparation.
Don’t Settle For Anything Less Than You Deserve
Winning a fair settlement or a successful verdict will take time. And ultimately, your claim is under your control. An attorney will simply advise you from a professional legal standpoint. However, the final decision is ultimately yours.
It can be hard to wait while you are waiting for damage compensation and healing from accident-related injuries. But, as the saying goes, “patience is a virtue.” By staying patient and letting your attorney handle negotiations, you have a better chance of recovering the most money from your accident claim. The highest settlement offers usually materialize after multiple negotiation rounds or a full court hearing. So, be patient and focus on recovering and healing while your lawyer handles your complex legal issues.
Contact A Florida Car Accident Attorney Today
If you sustained injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you deserve help. Our legal team is here to answer all your questions and ensure you get the most money possible from your car accident claim.
Contact us today for your free initial consultation and to learn more about your legal options.