What to Expect After a Car Accident

March 4, 2024
What to Expect After a Car Accident

After a car accident, you will probably be confused, upset, and stressed. Once you have called the police, sought medical attention, and received treatment, you may be uncertain how to proceed. The days following the auto accident are important because there are many things you may need to do to ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses. Ensure you take the following steps below in the days following your car accident. If you have legal questions, speak to an experienced Tampa car accident attorney today.

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Go to the Doctor

After leaving the car accident scene, the most important thing to do is get medical attention. You can have serious auto accident injuries even in a slow-speed accident. The full extent of your injuries can be unknown for hours or days, so you should have a prompt, comprehensive medical examination. Your doctor will note any car accident injuries and provide a treatment plan. They will also document your injuries if you want to file a car accident claim or lawsuit later. The biggest mistake people make after a car accident is to delay getting medical attention. First, you can have a serious injury that you don't realize at first. Delaying treatment can lead to the injury getting worse. Second, delaying treatment may complicate your subsequent accident claim. The insurance company will notice immediately that you did not see a doctor. Their assumption will be you weren't seriously injured, so they can deny the claim. Seeing a doctor promptly covers your bases, both legally and health wise.

Understand Insurance Coverage and State Laws

To understand the rules before filing your claim, state laws regarding auto accidents vary. If you are in a no-fault state, your insurance company may cover your initial medical bills and partial lost earnings. In a no-fault state, you generally rely on your insurance to cover damages to a certain point, such as $10,000, regardless of fault. If your damages exceed that and you have serious injuries, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. On the other hand, if you are in a fault-based state, the liable party is responsible for covering your losses. In this case, you can file a claim with your insurance company, which will seek reimbursement from the other driver's insurance company later. Or you can file the claim directly with the at-fault driver's insurance company.

Notifying Your Insurance Company

Man's hand holds insurance concept against a backdrop of a world map. Regardless of how you go about the claim process, always notify your auto insurance company after any accident. Even if the accident seems minor, your insurance company should know. Have your car accident attorney make this call for you. There are several reasons why informing your insurance company is wise:
  • A minor auto accident can turn out to be worse than you thought. Perhaps the other driver said they would pay for the damages out of pocket if you didn't tell the insurance company. But they may end up not paying you at all.
  • Your insurance company can file a reimbursement claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company.
  • Your insurance company may cover your losses if you are in a no-fault state or the other driver doesn't have insurance. Your insurance company will cover your losses if you opt for underinsured or uninsured coverage.
Also, you may jeopardize your claim if you don't notify your insurance company promptly. Your insurance policy likely specifies that you should inform them of any accident within a certain time frame, such as 24 hours. Failing to report the incident promptly can raise objections from the insurance company if you wait a week or more before attempting to file a claim. You must adhere to the timelines outlined in your policy to ensure a smooth claims process and prevent potential complications that may affect your ability to seek compensation. Your lawyer should also contact the other driver's insurance company. Having a car accident attorney deal with the at-fault driver's insurance company is always the best choice. Your attorney knows how to negotiate with insurance companies and will probably get you a better deal. Moreover, while communicating with the other driver's insurance company, anything you say can impact and weaken your claim. You should always be wary of anything you say to your or the other driver's insurance company. They can use anything you say against you. Retain an attorney and have them deal with any involved insurance company if you need to seek compensation for your losses.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If you haven’t already, contact a car accident attorney. Car accident attorneys are skilled in injury settlement negotiations and lawsuits and can usually get you more compensation than you can on your own. Your attorney will make a serious accident claim less overwhelming, and the lawyer’s legal advice can be invaluable. But how do you know if you need a car accident attorney? There are very minor car accidents with limited property damage and no injuries where you may not need an attorney. Always assume you need legal help. Consulting a lawyer is free and they can advise whether you need their representation. There are several situations where having a car accident lawyer advising you is vital:

You Have A Previous Injury

The car insurance company for the at-fault driver will want to know your health history before they process the claim. They can use that fact against you if you have a preexisting injury in the same part of the body. The insurance adjuster may argue that your previous injury made the accident injury worse, so you should receive less compensation. However, your attorney will likely argue that you still deserve fair compensation, regardless of the preexisting injury. Your attorney will play a vital role in this complicated negotiation to get you the compensation you deserve.

You Have Serious Injuries

Medic attends to seriously injured man in car after road accident, offering urgent medical aid. Some accidents cause serious injuries, such as head trauma, spine or spinal cord injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, etc. In cases where serious injuries necessitate months of treatment, surgery, hospital stays, and recovery, a car accident attorney should always represent you. Only an experienced attorney will properly value your claim and get you the most compensation for your injuries. Many injury victims do not realize the full extent of their injuries nor what they deserve in compensation. For example, if you break your hip in a T-bone car accident and need surgery, you should not just receive compensation for your current medical bills. You also will need follow-up care, which involves more doctor visits, physical therapy, and potentially other medical care. You also should be compensated for future medical expenses plus lost future earnings. Without an attorney, you can settle for only current medical bills and lost earnings, leaving you shortchanged in the long months ahead.

The Insurance Company Already Denied Your Car Insurance Claim

You may think that the auto insurance company is there to guide you after a serious car accident. That is what you pay your insurance company for, right? But even your auto insurance company can deny your claim; they can refuse to reimburse you the fair value of your vehicle or may not give you all the medical coverage you think you should get. Your attorney can support your pushback effectively when your insurance company isn't paying up. Furthermore, they can give you the runaround if you file a claim with the at-fault party's insurance company. They might deny the claim outright, delay the process, or offer less than they should. Hire a car accident attorney to handle negotiations with the other driver's insurance company. Your attorney will promptly handle your claim and ensure you receive fair compensation. The car accident attorney can also threaten a lawsuit if negotiations break down.

Fault Isn't Clear

If the fault is clear in the isn't, you don't necessarily need a car accident attorney for a minor incident. But if the fault is the party, the insurance company can blame you partially for the accident. Or there can be several at-fault parties, leading to complications in settlement negotiations. When a fault isn't clear, your driver saves an experienced and aggressive attorney negotiating in your best interests. Your attorney will investigate the accident and determine who was at fault. You can use this information as leverage in negotiations with the insurance company. If you don't know if you should hire an attorney, there is no harm in calling one in the hours or days after the accident. The auto accident attorney will learn about your case and injuries and determine if a favorable outcome is likely. If so, they may want to represent you. But they won't let you know if they think there is no case.

Car Accident Settlements

Illustrate the Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline on a wooden table through paperwork. Now that you understand what you should do after a car accident, you may wonder what your car accident case is worth. First, know that every car accident claim is different, and yours can be worth much more or less than others. Some factors that can determine the value of your settlement include:
  • How severe your injuries are: The worse your injuries, the higher your case may be worth. People with severe injuries lasting months or years require ongoing care, hospitalization, surgeries, and physical therapy.
  • Property damage: If your vehicle is severely damaged, you should receive a higher settlement. You should receive the fair market replacement value if the car is totaled.
  • Medical costs: People with more medical costs from their accident will receive more compensation. You might need compensation for current medical bills and future medical expenses, including rehabilitation, reconstructive surgeries, and more.
  • Lost earnings: If you are out of work for months, you will get a higher settlement than if you missed a week. Furthermore, you may be entitled to loss of the ability to earn a living if you have severe injuries.
  • Pain and suffering: For severe injuries, you can be compensated more for your physical pain and emotional stress related to your injuries and treatments. These damages can vary widely, depending on the insurance company and your attorney's negotiation skills.
Patience is important once you have taken all of the steps above after the car accident. The personal injury claim or lawsuit process can take time. Staying persistent and patient throughout the process ensures you get the most compensation. Insurance companies use assorted methods to frustrate injured parties, hoping they will give up or take a quick settlement. The insurance adjuster can delay the process on purpose, deny the claim, or offer a lower settlement than you deserve, hoping that you take the attorney's advice. Remember that these are standard insurance company tactics, and allowing the process to play out is important. Rely on the experience and skill of your car accident attorney to navigate through these tactics and secure the maximum compensation for your losses. Your attorney will guide the process and assess whether a settlement offer is fair, ensuring you make informed decisions about your case.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today

Chris Castillo, Attorney for Car Accident
Chris Castillo, Car Accident Attorney
A serious car accident injury can leave you with thousands in medical bills, lost income, and tremendous pain and suffering. You should not have to bear these burdens alone if another person or entity injures you. Instead, you can file a car accident lawsuit with an experienced attorney and receive compensation for your injuries. Speak to a skilled Tampa personal injury attorney in your area today for a complimentary legal consultation. You don't pay legal fees unless you win. So, there is nothing to lose by having a car accident lawyer review your accident claim. Once you hire a lawyer, they will handle everything. They will take over all communications with insurance companies, so you never have to worry about saying the wrong thing or jeopardizing your claim. They will gather evidence to prove liability and negotiate for a settlement that covers all your losses. They can advise you on what to expect throughout the entire process.

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