How to File Car Accident Claims: Everything You Need to Know
Every year in the United States, millions of people sustain injuries in car accidents, many of them serious and life-changing. If you're one of these people, you may want to consider filing a car accident claim. In 2020, there were about 4.8 million injuries caused by auto accidents.
Getting injured in a car accident isn't just traumatizing. It can also lead to large medical bills, loss of income, and other financial damages. Car accident claims can protect you from potential debt that can arise from a new and unexpected injury or disability.
Most people don't know how to file car accident claims. Where do you start? What should you expect from the process?
We're here to tell you everything that you need to know about the car accident claim filing process.
Get Information from the At-Fault Driver and Witnesses
If it is safe to do so, gather information at the scene of the accident. Because you have sustained injuries, the authorities should be called. You can get some of the information you will need from the police report.
You will also need to get the contact and/or insurance information from the at-fault driver. If there were any witnesses at the scene of the accident, collect their information, as well.
Make sure that you do not admit fault or acknowledge partial responsibility for the accident. Say as little as possible to the at-fault driver when collecting their information. The last thing you want is for something you said in the moment to undermine your ability to collect compensation later.
Seek Medical Care ASAP
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, make sure to seek medical care. Even if you don't notice any injuries right away, it is important that you get looked at by a doctor. This is in large part because sudden traumatic experiences like car accidents can send you into a state of shock, which may make injuries go undetected at first.
As the days and weeks unfold, make sure that you continue to take your medical care seriously. Remember, the vast majority of compensation received from a car accident claim covers medical bills and medical damages. If it appears to the defense team that you are not in need of regular medical care, they may try to build the argument that your injuries aren't as bad as you say they are.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Once you have taken care of any emergency medical needs, the next thing you'll want to do is hire a lawyer. Is it possible to file your car accident claim first and hire a lawyer second? The answer is yes, but it isn't recommended.
The second you open up a claim, the at-fault driver's insurance company will stay in contact with you. Their goal is to reach a low settlement, not to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Before speaking to or responding to the defense team, you should always consult your lawyer and protect yourself from handing over information that could be used against you.
How can you find a good car accident lawyer? Let's take a quick look.
Look for Car Accident Claim Experience
First and foremost, narrow down your search to lawyers with car accident claim experience in your city. There are personal injury lawyers out there who will take any and all personal injury cases, but that doesn't mean that they have the experience with and knowledge of nuanced car accident claim laws. Look at car accident law firms' websites as well as reviews to find the right match.
Request a Free Case Consultation
A free consultation allows you to explain your case and get an opinion before signing any contracts. Not only does this give lawyers the chance to evaluate your case but it also gives you a chance to ask questions. Ask about experience and success rates as well as communication methods, caseloads, and overall availability.
Find Out About Lawyer Fees
Finally, make sure you ask about lawyer fees. Some law firms will hit their clients with tons of upfront bills and legal fees. What you want to find is a law firm that operates on contingency fees, which means that their pay comes from your compensation and not directly from your bank account.
File Your Claim With Your Lawyer and Compile the Evidence
Work with your car accident lawyer to file your claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. As we stated earlier, don't communicate with the defense team without consulting your lawyer, first. Then, work with your lawyer to compile all of the evidence and car accident claim documents you'll need to establish the facts of your case.
This will include:
- proof of the at-fault driver's negligence (ie photos and videos of the accident scene, the police report, and witness statements)
- proof of your injuries and other damages (ie related medical records and photos of the damage done to your property)
- proof of financial damages (ie medical bills, car repair estimates, and paystubs)
You will need to share this evidence with the defense team during the discovery process. Your lawyer will also use this evidence to establish the amount of compensation you are asking for.
Most car accident claims settle out of court, but even this can take time. Another reason to have a car accident lawyer in your corner is to make sure that you don't agree to a lowball settlement when you deserve more. Working with a lawyer you trust will make it easier to navigate this process and know when to accept the offer.
File Car Accident Claims With the Best Garden Grove Lawyers
Many people may not know how to file car accident claims and several are lucky enough to never have to find out. However, if you have been injured in a car accident, filing a car accident claim is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from financial damage.
Do you want to work with the best in Garden Grove? Contact us today to set up your free case consultation.