Say a car accident injured you, and you’re now dealing with the aftermath. Your medical bills are piling up, you’re too hurt to go back to work, and your car is too wrecked to drive anywhere. The last thing you want right now is to worry about getting short-changed in a car accident settlement. Unfortunately, insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying out as much as they can crash victims.
If you’re concerned about getting full compensation for your car accident claim, don’t worry. With the help of a car accident lawyer, there are ways to hold the insurance company accountable, increase the value of your car accident settlement, and demand the recovery you deserve. Keep reading to learn more about what you should know and the steps you can take to get more money from your car accident settlement.
Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible
When you get hurt in a car accident, your health and well-being should be your top priority, so you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not only will prompt medical attention give your body the care it needs to heal, but it will also likely increase the potential value of your accident claim.
Going to the hospital or doctor’s office immediately after a car accident allows your doctor to diagnose, treat, and document your injuries right after they happen. You can use this documentation, which might include doctor’s notes and diagnostic test results, to support your claim. If you wait too long to seek medical attention, it may be harder to link your injuries to the accident, weakening your case.
Seeking prompt medical care will also demonstrate to the insurance company and other interested parties that you are taking proactive steps to address your injuries and improve your condition. This can go a long way toward convincing the insurance company that your injuries are serious and deserve fair compensation.
Follow Your Doctor’s Care Plan Closely
Once you have received your initial treatment after a car accident injury, follow the care plan your doctor prescribes as closely as possible. Your doctor might recommend various treatments or care plans depending on the nature and severity of your injuries. You might need to attend follow-up appointments, take certain prescription medications, complete physical therapy exercises, or even undergo surgery.
Some crash victims have trouble following their doctors’ care plans for various reasons, such as financial constraints or transportation issues. But remember that you can usually get compensation for crash-related medical bills and incidental expenses, such as the travel costs you might incur going to and from the doctor’s office. Don’t let these manageable hurdles prevent you from getting the treatment you need.
Similar to seeking prompt medical attention, following a prescribed care plan will improve your overall health and show the insurance company that you are taking your recovery seriously. If you don’t follow your doctor’s recommendations, the insurance company might suspect that you are exaggerating your injuries or not very invested in your recovery, which could weaken your claim.
Start a “Pain Journal” to Document Your Recovery
A pain journal is a tool you can use to document and track your crash-related pain, symptoms, and recovery over time. It is a personal diary or log in which you record details about the pain you feel due to your injuries, including the location, intensity, and duration of the pain, plus any other associated symptoms. You can also include information about how the pain affects your daily life and how your symptoms change over time.
A pain journal can help you create a clear and detailed record of your symptoms, which you can use to support your car accident claim. Insurance companies are more likely to take your claim seriously if you provide detailed information about your injuries and recovery. This is especially true if you intend to seek compensation for more subjective losses, such as pain and suffering or reduced quality of life.
You can start your pain journal by getting a simple notebook or creating a digital document to track your symptoms, pain levels, and information about how your injuries affect your daily life. When you write your entries, include dates, detailed information, and supporting evidence like photographs.
Gather Evidence From the Accident Scene
Gathering evidence after an accident, including taking photos, speaking to witnesses, and exchanging driver information, could increase the value of your car accident settlement in several ways. Strong evidence will show the extent and severity of your losses, such as visible crash injuries and vehicle damage. Evidence from the accident could also indicate how the accident happened, which would give you the proof necessary to establish who was at fault.
Unless you need emergency medical care after an accident and can’t do so yourself, the first thing you should do after an accident is exchange information with other parties involved in the wreck.
Gather important details like names, contact information, and insurance policy information. Next, look around for witnesses who might have seen the collision and politely request their names, contact details, and statements. You should also take note of any traffic cameras or other surveillance equipment that may have captured footage of the accident.
You’ll also want to take photos to document the wreck while you’re at the scene since conditions can change drastically over time. Have a trusted friend or family member do so on your behalf if you can’t be at the scene personally.
When you take photos, try to capture images of the entire crash scene, including each vehicle, any visible damage, and the surrounding area, such as traffic signs, road markings, and skid marks. Walk around and take photos from different angles to get a comprehensive view of the scene. Then, take detailed close-up photos of vehicle damage, visible crash injuries, and any ambient conditions that might have contributed to the wreck.
Save Copies of Crash-Related Documents
Thorough documentation can make or break a car accident claim.
Some types of documentation that you should save if you get hurt in a car accident include:
- The police report. A police report from the officer who responded to the scene of the accident is a valuable piece of evidence, and insurance companies often require one when you file a claim. The police report should include basic information about the accident, such as the date, time, location, and the officer’s opinion about who was at fault.
- Your medical records. These documents, which you get from your doctor and other healthcare providers, have detailed information about your injuries that will be vital for your car accident claim. The insurance company will want proof of any diagnosis, treatment, or prognosis for your crash injuries before paying for your claim. Your medical records and copies of your healthcare bills will also show the costs of the care you received, allowing you to prove exactly how much you deserve in compensation.
- Insurance documents. This includes a copy of your insurance policy and any insurance information you receive from the other driver or their provider. It’s smart to have ready access to the policies that could apply to your claim so you understand their limits and what to expect.
- Documentation of lost income. If you missed work because of the accident, make sure you save any documentation supporting a claim for lost income. This could include a letter from your employer stating your average weekly or monthly wages and the dates you were out of work, pay stubs or bank statements showing your income before and after the accident, and tax returns or W-2 forms to verify your annual income.
- Property damage documentation. You should also save repair estimates and bills you receive for damage to your vehicle after the accident, as you can use them to support your claim for crash-related property damage.
Watch What You Say to Others About the Wreck
From the moment the car accident occurs until you have the settlement money in hand, be careful to watch what you say to others because the other side could use anything you say against you. Adjusters, defense attorneys, and other representatives from the other driver’s insurance company will likely contact you soon after the accident, looking for any information they can use to evade responsibility and reduce your settlement.
For example, if you tell the adjuster that you feel okay, they might interpret that statement to mean that you don’t have any injuries and use it against you when you need medical coverage later. And if you indicate that you’re sorry or should have done things differently after the accident, they may use your remarks as an admission of fault to avoid paying your claim.
When you talk to the insurance company after an accident, always be honest and provide accurate information, but also be mindful of the information you provide.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Never admit fault. Even if you think you might be partially at fault, do not make any statements to that effect. The insurance company can and will use them against you to reduce your settlement.
- Be honest about your injuries. Provide detailed information about any injuries you suffered, but don’t exaggerate or downplay anything. You want to give a clear picture of your condition without coming across as malingering.
- Keep statements brief and stick to the facts. Avoid giving the adjuster any unnecessary information or discussing the accident beyond what is necessary to report the claim. If you’re unsure of the answer to a question, never guess. Simply admit that you don’t know and move on.
- Consult an attorney. Before you make any statements or provide any information to the insurance company, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney. A good car accident lawyer can advise you on what to say and what to keep to yourself or even communicate with the insurance company for you.
Avoid Posting or Sharing on Social Media
While pursuing your car accident claim, avoid posting or sharing anything on social media or other online accounts. Today’s insurance companies commonly search for freely available data on social media to investigate accident claims, and adjusters will not hesitate to use what they find to minimize or deny your settlement.
Suppose you post pictures of yourself participating in activities you claimed you couldn’t enjoy due to your injuries. In that case, the insurance company may use the photos as evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you claim, even if they’re old photos or you weren’t participating fully. Adjusters might also use optimistic posts or updates to insinuate that you are not suffering from your injuries as badly as you claim.
It’s a good idea to consult a car accident lawyer and check your online privacy settings to limit who can see your social media accounts while your car accident claim is pending. Consider limiting who can see your posts to only close friends and family. If you worry about privacy, disable your social media accounts until you settle your claim.