If you were involved in a collision, you may be faced with high medical bills and the cost to repair your car. You also may be advised by your doctor to take time off from work and avoid certain activities. You may be wondering how you will make ends meet while you recover.
The good news is, you can be compensated for all of your crash-related losses. The bad news is, insurance companies will do whatever it takes to avoid compensating you. Even when they do, they often pay out small settlements that barely cover your losses.
How can I recover all damages accrued from my crash?
The first thing you should do after a crash is follow the standard procedures if you're physically able to. This includes checking on other parties involved in the crash and calling 911 if anyone is seriously injured. You should also call the police and wait for them to arrive, and exchange insurance information with the other driver.
During this time, you can also take pictures of the crash scene and speak to witnesses. This evidence can later be used to support your claim. After the police have investigated the scene of the crash, you should report the crash to your insurance company and seek prompt medical attention.
You will also need to consult with an experienced car accident attorney in order to explore your legal options and have an accurate value placed on your claim. Do not, under any circumstance, speak to the other driver's insurance company, even if they contact you. Anything you tell them can hurt your chances of being compensated.
How is the value of my claim determined?
There is no easy way to determine how much compensation you are eligible for. During your initial consultation, your attorney will need to gather information on how your crash occurred, the nature of your injuries, and the details regarding your medical evaluation.
After your consultation, your attorney will need to investigate your crash to look for evidence to support your claim. This may include:
- Any evidence you provide, such as pictures and witness contact information
- Evidence gathered from a crash reconstruction expert
- Witness statements
- Details from the police report
- Video footage from nearby surveillance cameras or dash cameras
- Electronic records, such as text messages, phone calls and social media posts
Your attorney will also need to tally up all accrued damages and losses caused by your crash. This may include:
- Current and future medical costs
- Lost wages if you are unable to work
- Non-economic damages — pain and suffering, mental trauma, emotional anguish and impact on quality of life
- Punitive damages to punish the at-fault driver, but only if malicious intent or recklessness was a factor
When can I expect to be compensated?
Determining how much you are eligible to receive in compensation can take time while your attorney launches a thorough investigation. Your attorney will then need to negotiate for a fair settlement with the at-fault driver's insurance company. This can take several months, if not longer.
If a settlement can't be reached between your attorney and the insurance company, then your attorney will need to file a lawsuit and take your case to trial. The process can take years, especially if the insurance company files an appeal. Luckily, most car accident cases don't get to this point.