How to Make an Injury Claim After a Car Accident
After you have suffered an injury in a car accident, the expenses may begin to pile up immediately. There are doctor’s bills and other costs related to your injuries. At the same time, you may not be earning money if you miss significant work time. The financial costs of a car accident can be devastating. The uncertainty alone can add to your stress and make your situation even more difficult.
Car accident lawyers
allow you to hold someone else legally responsible when they were to blame for your car accident injuries. If the other driver violated a traffic law and had car insurance, the insurance company will be obligated to pay for the damages their policyholder caused, up to the policy maximum.
First, you must go through an entire process before you can get your money. The insurance company tries to make this process as difficult as possible for you, knowing that dragging things out can save them money in several ways.
The insurance claims process involves multiple steps that unfold over months or years. You should begin the legal process as soon as possible, even if you did not file a claim immediately. Since it can take a long time, you should at least get the ball rolling. Otherwise, the insurance company can gain an edge over you, more than it already has, from the way it has skewed the claims process.
Hire an Attorney at the Beginning of the Claims Process
The first step towards claiming injury in a car accident case is to hire a car accident attorney to represent you. Legally, nothing says you must have a lawyer on your side. Many people try to handle their car accident cases independently and end up paying the price. Their claim may get denied entirely when they cannot persuade the insurance company that their customer was at fault for the accident.
If they do receive a settlement offer, it will likely be for pennies on the dollar, and the average person needs to have the skill or credibility to push the insurance company to pay them more.
Hiring a lawyer will begin your legal process because your attorney will have a plan of action from the moment they get hired. You can trust them with the details of your case. While you will make the decisions in your case, it will only be after you have received updates and explanations from your lawyer. An attorney will give you their professional opinion on what they believe is your best course of action.
Do not worry about how to afford representation when you are looking for an attorney. The lawyer will not ask you to pay them right away. In fact, they only ask you to pay them if and when you win your case. This way, you do not need to use valuable savings that you can use to pay other bills at this time.
Before You Can Talk Money, You Must Prove Fault
Before claiming injury in an accident, you must prove that someone else was to blame for the accident. Your legal right to compensation begins when you can show that the other driver was negligent. Before that point, you do not have a right to financial compensation.
Before filing the actual claim, your car accident attorney will investigate the accident and learn more about its cause. They will gather the available sources of evidence that will show that the other driver’s actions were the cause of your injuries.
Helpful evidence may include:
- Testimony from witnesses who saw what happened
- The police report (this report cannot be evidence in a lawsuit, but your lawyer can use it during your insurance claim)
- Pictures of the scene of the accident
- Dashcam or traffic camera footage
must prove that the other driver did not follow their duty of care. In some cases, accidents do happen. Here, you must show that the driver involved in the accident with you acted in a way that a reasonable driver should not have under the circumstances. In legal terms, this is negligence and is the basis for all personal injury claims
, including car accidents.
Get Medical Help to Recover and Establish Your Damages
To claim injury, you must also know their full extent and your prognosis for the future. You cannot go to the insurance company asking them to pay you money unless the scope of your injuries is clear. Every claimant has the burden of proof to demonstrate both fault for the accident and their own injuries.
Before filing your claim, you need to see a doctor to diagnose and treat your injuries. The doctor that you see may send you to one or more specialists. You must follow their recommendations and go to all doctor’s appointments. You will be unable to have your injuries fully diagnosed until you see the necessary doctors.
It may take some time to learn the nature of your injuries. When you suffer from car accident injuries
, you may not even know at the scene, or even in the days afterward, that you have received an injury. In some cases, you might not experience symptoms until weeks in the future.
Follow up on Your Medical Care
Nonetheless, you must be diligent about seeking medical treatment and following up on your appointments and rehabilitation. Ordinarily, the time to claim injury and file a claim is when you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement
In medical terms, this is the point when further treatment will not improve your prognosis. You may only reach the point of MMI after surgery and rehabilitation. In any event, you cannot know your prognosis until you have pursued the full extent of necessary treatment.
The insurance company may also look closely at whether and when you received medical treatment. They may try to cut your financial compensation if you have not diligently followed what your doctor told you. The longer you wait to see a doctor and get treated, the more of an opening you give the insurance company to make your life harder.
Place a Valuation on the Extent of Your Damages
Once you know the extent of your injuries, your lawyer will help you come up with a valuation for your claim. In many cases, you will present a request for a specific amount of money, and this will be your opening position.
Valuing your claim is one of the most critical stages in the claim process. The insurance company hopes to catch you unaware of the exact value of your claim. They want to make you a quick and low offer in the hopes that you will accept it. If you have an experienced attorney on your side, the insurance company can forget about this happening.
Before you file a claim for your injury, you must get prepared. Insurance companies pay more money in response to well-prepared and documented claims. Remember, the insurance company approaches the claims process looking for a way to complicate things for you. That’s part of the reason why hiring an attorney is critically important.
Document Your Claim Before You File It
Your lawyer will work with you to ensure that you have the necessary documentation before filing the claim. An attorney knows what an insurance company is looking to see. They may begin with the evidence about the accident and then move on to your claimed damages.
If anything is missing from your claim, the insurance company has an excuse to delay your claim. They may even deny it entirely. Hiring a lawyer is the best way to ensure that you have a strong claim in the first place.
You will claim injury when you send your documentation to the insurance company.
You can do this by:
- Sending your documentation in as part of an initial claim
- Including your documentation with a demand letter
Depending on the size and complexity of your claim, some lawyers will advise you to begin your claim with a demand letter. This communication is more formal and sends a message to the insurance company that you have done your homework. It also tells them you are ready to stand up for yourself if they try to do what insurance companies are known for doing.
Insurance companies are continuously sizing up the person at the other end of the table from them. They thrive when they see claims from self-represented claimants who do not know the process or the value of their own claims. You must be professional and show the insurance company that you mean business. The best way to make a strong impression on the insurance company is to bring in a formidable lawyer. Then, the insurance company will get the message that they cannot push you around.
Negotiate With the Insurance Company to Raise Their Settlement Offer
After you have filed your claim, the insurance company can respond in several ways. Their most likely response is to delay your claim for as long as possible until they give you an answer. If you are counting on a quick settlement, you should not get your hopes up for it. The insurance company knows that you need the money, and they will try to delay you in any way they can.
After several weeks (or even months), the insurance company may:
- Come back and tell you that your claim needs completion and they need more information (there is less of a chance of this happening when you have a lawyer handling all the details).
- Deny your claim entirely if they do not believe that you adequately supported it or they think that you were at fault for the accident.
- Offer you a settlement to begin resolving your claim.
Even if the insurance company chooses the third option, it is far from the end of your claim. Any settlement offer is likely an opening gambit to begin negotiations. Especially for more significant claims, the insurance company does not intend to settle the case with the opening offer. They are merely trying to signal that they will try to settle the case, but they have likely given you a meager settlement offer. A skilled negotiator does not make their best offer, first. The insurance company is no different. Your lawyer is likely handling your case the same way.
Claiming injury is a lengthy process that does not end when you file the claim or even receive a settlement offer. Instead, you will likely need to continue to negotiate over some time. You can reject the settlement offer and come back with your own numbers. You can expect multiple rounds of exchanging figures and rejecting offers. The insurance company always leaves itself room to raise the offer in settlement negotiations.
The most important thing to know when making an injury claim is that it is a process. You will not receive a check for the money you want as soon as you file the claim with the insurance company. There are many hoops that they will make you jump through before you can get a settlement check.
Also understand that the insurance company does not have unlimited power. If the claims process is not going your way, you can always sue the responsible driver in court and make the insurance company defend the case. Since they must pay their own defense lawyers, this is something that they do not always want to do.
Do Not Wait; Consult a Car Accident Lawyer Today
Claiming injury after a car accident
can be confusing and complicated. The good news is that you never have to navigate this process and figure out how to file your claim on your own. A skilled car accident attorney will handle all of this for you.
If you suffered injuries and need to file a claim against the at-fault driver, set up a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney