Car accidents injuries can be costly. Depending on your injuries, victims can be left with a mountain of medical debt stemming from:
- ambulance rides
- ER visits
- physical therapy
- initial and follow-up doctor appointments
When you add up all these expenses, plus lost wages from missing work and other accident-related costs, it can put an injured victim in a precarious financial position. This only adds to their stress of recovering from their injuries.
When someone is negligent in causing a car accident, victims can receive compensation for their damages from the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Damages that can be compensated
How much money someone can receive to cover their damages depends on many different factors. These factors include:
- severity of the injuries
- amount of insurance coverage available
- if the injury victim contributed to the cause of the accident
Although these factors are out of the claimant’s control, they can contribute some elements that will help personal injury victims get the compensation they need. For example:
- seeking medical attention right away
- not speaking to the insurance company
- hiring a car accident lawyer as soon as possible can all help a victim strengthen their claim
Steps to take to maximize car accident injury compensation
Serious injuries from a car accident deserve compensation. You may have to live with the limitations of your injuries, in some cases permanently. But you may also need help paying your medical bills and managing the other expenses that go along with your injuries. How can you get the most money from a car accident?
1. Remain at the Scene of the Accident
After you are involved in an accident, it’s your duty to stay at the scene. Additionally, you should contact the police if the accident caused any damage to either vehicle or if the accident caused any injuries.
It is not uncommon for the at-fault party to try to talk you out of filing a police report. Do not fall into this trap.
Having a police report on file can provide solid evidence for your case. A police report documents what happened, parties that were involved, and other crucial details.
If possible, don’t leave the scene of the accident until the police have conducted their investigation.
2. Gather Evidence at the Scene
While the police are conducting their investigation, you are allowed to collect your own evidence. Collecting your own evidence and documenting the scene is a good idea.
To document the accident, take pictures and video of all vehicles and the surrounding area. These pictures can help show how the accident occurred, what damage resulted, and what contributing factors may have been involved.
All of this will serve as good evidence for when you file a personal injury claim.
Part of this process involves exchanging information with the other driver. When speaking to other drivers, do not talk about the accident or accept fault in any way. Even a polite apology can be misconstrued to mean that you have something to be sorry for, thereby accepting fault. Stick to exchanging identifying information such as names, insurance information, and contact information.
Before leaving the scene, you should also gather the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. And encourage them to speak to the police. A police report with a witness statement on your side is powerful evidence for your injury claim.
You should also take note of anything else that may help you to prove your case later. Check to see if there are any cameras or nearby stores that may have captured the accident on video. This information could be very valuable when your attorney carries out their investigation on your behalf.
3. Seek Medical Treatment Immediately
After the police have conducted their investigation and you’ve collected all the evidence you need, if injured you should immediately seek medical treatment.
Obviously if you have severe injuries, you’ll likely be taken to an emergency room in an ambulance right away. In this case you obviously won’t be able to collect your own evidence or file a police report. That is fine. Your health and safety are most important.
If you were able to stay at the scene and you are in pain, the first thing you should do after leaving the accident is to get checked out by a doctor.
It is crucial that you seek medical care to be evaluated by a professional. Even if you don’t believe that you’re seriously injured. Sometimes even severe injuries can be masked by adrenaline so getting evaluated is a must. Additionally, getting medical treatment shortly after an accident will serve as another way of officially documenting your injuries as being related to the car accident.
Delaying your medical treatment could greatly impact the amount of compensation you receive during your settlement negotiations. Insurance companies will argue that your injuries must not have been serious enough to warrant sufficient compensation if you didn’t seek medical attention within a reasonable amount of time. This is a common tactic used by insurance companies to diminish your injuries and provide you with less compensation.
4. Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
If you want to maximize the compensation you receive following a car accident, hire an attorney. You should contact that attorney as soon after your accident as possible. There are multiple reasons for hiring a Chicago car accident attorney, including:
Hiring a car accident attorney prevents you from mistakenly minimizing your compensation
After a serious car accident, an insurance company could make a settlement offer. Often, this settlement offer fails to reflect the funds you really deserve for your injuries. In some cases, the insurance company may only offer a fraction of what you deserve for your injuries. Some car accident victims may accept this offer because they believe they will not get a better one. Or because they think it represents the maximum compensation available for their injury. An attorney can give you a better idea of how much you really deserve for your injuries. This will prevent you from mistakenly minimizing the compensation you can receive.
A car accident attorney provides you with a full evaluation of all parties liable for your accident
Illinois drivers who carry minimum auto insurance may have insurance that provides only $25,000 in compensation for bodily injury as a result of the accident. The medical bills for many types of injuries, including burns, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injury, may far exceed that amount. You can file a personal injury claim against all entities that contributed to your accident, which may maximize your compensation.
An attorney can:
- Seek video footage of your accident. Video footage may include dash cam footage, security footage from local businesses, or traffic camera footage that clearly displays your accident.
- Speak to witnesses. Witness statements can help an experienced attorney or expert witness put together exactly how the accident occurred and what factors contributed to that accident.
- Check truckers’ logs and evaluate the trucking company, including taking a look at the driver’s past tickets and accident history. An experienced attorney may learn that a trucker has exceeded the number of hours he can legally spend behind the wheel or that the trucking company has a history of expecting drivers to meet unrealistic expectations or drive in unsafe conditions, for example.
- Take a look at the maintenance history of the vehicle and evaluate whether, if mechanical failure caused the accident, the manufacturer or a mechanic who recently worked on the vehicle may share liability for your injuries.
- Take a closer look at any other factors that contributed to your accident, including a poorly loaded truck or a mechanical defect.
A Chicago car accident attorney increases your understanding of the compensation you deserve for your injuries
You may question how much compensation you really deserve following a serious accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can improve your understanding of the compensation you deserve and provide you with a highly effective plan to proceed with your claim.
Most car accident victims include several common aspects as part of their claims, including:
- Medical expenses. Your medical expenses may mount quickly, especially in accidents that include burns, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord damage. An experienced personal injury attorney will help you evaluate all medical expenses associated with the accident, including emergency transport, treatment in the emergency room, surgeries and procedures, tests, and durable medical equipment. An attorney will also advise you about other expenses that count as medical expenses for the purposes of your personal injury claim. For example, you may need to make modifications to your home to accommodate a wheelchair after a spinal cord injury or amputation, or you may need ongoing personal care as a result of a traumatic brain injury. An attorney can help you understand how and when to include those expenses as part of your personal injury claim.
- Lost wages. Severe injuries can prevent you from returning to work long-term—or, in some cases, prevent you from returning to work permanently. If you face lost time at work due to your injuries, you deserve compensation for those injuries. Your attorney will help evaluate the terms of those lost wages, including how lost vacation time as a result of your injuries could increase the funds you deserve in your personal injury claim.
- Pain and suffering. While pain and suffering does not represent a tangible cost, it can add substantially to your personal injury claim. Many car accident injuries not only cause significant physical pain and suffering, they may leave you suffering from isolation or struggling to return to the activities that normally bring you joy. An attorney can help you determine how to calculate the worth of that pain and suffering.
Your personal injury attorney provides support as you deal with negotiations, mediation, and even go to court, if necessary
You may go through numerous stages of negotiation before you reach a resolution in your personal injury claim. In some cases, you may need to go to mediation to reach a resolution if you and the liable party, usually an insurance company, cannot come to an agreement about the worth of your claim. Failed negotiation results in your claim going to court. At every stage in this process, your attorney provides vital support that can help increase the compensation you receive for your injuries.
If you want to maximize the compensation you receive from a personal injury claim, start by hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. Many clients find that simply retaining an attorney increases the compensation the insurance company will willingly offer. In other cases, an attorney will manage the negotiation process or proceed to court for your claim. Contact a car accident attorney to discuss your case and learn more about how to obtain as much compensation as possible after your car accident.
5. Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Any time you are involved in an accident, you need to report it to your insurance company. Failure to do so timely may result in your carrier denying coverage. It may also provide the at-fault party’s insurance company with another reason to diminish your claims.
However, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney before talking with your own insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company. Both of these companies will be looking to protect their own interest and bottomline, so having a personal injury attorney looking out for your best interests will be extremely helpful in ensuring that you are properly compensated for your injuries. It’s always better to let your lawyer set up the claim on your behalf.
6. Keep Good Records of the Accident and Your Injuries
You should keep as detailed as possible a record of any monetary losses you’ve experienced because of the accident. This will include:
- bills for medical care
- notes about conversations
- copies of all emails
- records of missed work
- any letters from insurance companies
Keeping a detailed record of everything could make it easier to receive compensation when your attorney files an injury claim on your behalf. Your lawyer will want a copy of any and all paperwork you receive related to the accident.
7. Keep Up with Your Medical Appointments
When you’re recovering from your injuries, you may think that it’s perfectly acceptable to skip a doctor’s appointment here and there. However, insurance companies will use this against you. Skipping appointments or not following your medical plan can allow insurance companies to argue that your injuries are not serious enough since you’ve skipped medical appointments. The insurance company may also argue that skipping an appointment or not following your medical plan contributed to the severity of your injuries.
Following your medical plan will also help you keep consistent documentation of your injuries and your recovery process. This will make it easier to later assess your condition and the amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries.
8. Do Not Accept a Settlement Offer from an Insurance Company Without Legal Guidance
An insurance company may want to avoid you teaming up with an accident lawyer. It typically costs them much more money. For this reason, they will try everything in their power to get you to accept a settlement before you are able to hire an attorney. This tactic of providing injury victims with quick cash in return for an agreement waiving your right to seek proper compensation is common in their industry.
It is a common tactic for insurance companies to offer a low settlement and encourage you not to get lawyers involved. Often when insurance companies push you to settle your case early, it’s because they know that an experienced attorney would be able to get you a higher settlement amount than the insurance company is willing to offer right away.
Hiring an attorney to represent you means that your accident will be more thoroughly investigated. It also means that all parties responsible will be held accountable and that all damages will be accounted for in your compensation package.
9. Don’t Talk to Others About Your Accident
When you’re involved in a personal injury claim, it’s important to remember that everything you say could be used as evidence against you later.
If you speak to a friend or family member about your accident, they could be deposed or called as a witness. On the same note, anything you post about your accident or injuries on social media can be used too. Insurance companies will often try to look through your social media accounts to find anything that can help them decrease your claim’s value. The best advice is to avoid posting about the accident on social media until your case is settled.
10. Abels & Annes in Chicago Wants To Be Your Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, contact the office of Abels & Annes right away to discuss your case and settlement options. Our attorneys will evaluate your case and advocate for appropriate compensation for your injuries. We have years of experience working diligently for our clients to pursue maximum compensation in their injury claims. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call us at 312-924-7575.