Knowing what to expect after a car accident could help you file an insurance claim, reduce your stress, and allow you to recover fair compensation. While each crash is unique, many of the same principles apply for fault and liability, and most require many of the same steps for recovering damages.
If you suffered injuries, handling your claim and getting treatment simultaneously is often stressful and time-consuming. You must figure out how to navigate the process, build the case, and then take the necessary steps.
Hiring a Vero Beach car accident lawyer can make getting the money you need to pay your bills and cover your losses easier. Most injury law firms offer a free initial consultation to review your case and explain how they can help you.
Your Health and Well-Being Must Come First
When you suffer injuries in a car accident, you must prioritize your health and well-being from the first moments after the crash. If your injuries allow, you should take photos of the vehicles, the crash scene, and other details. However, ensure you do not put yourself in danger and let the paramedics clear you before you worry about documenting the scene.
If first responders recommend going to the hospital, you should. They will tell you if they believe you require ambulance transportation or medevac to a trauma center or whether you can get to the nearest emergency department on your own. Even if you do not have any obvious injuries, they will likely recommend seeing your doctor as soon as possible to rule out other concerns.
Some serious injuries show few symptoms initially, such as:
- Internal bleeding
- Injuries to organs
The sooner you see a doctor and receive a diagnosis, the sooner treatment begins. This way, you recover as fully as possible and can easily link your injuries to the crash. It could be key in your insurance claim or a lawsuit if the case goes to trial.
You must continue to prioritize your health and recovery throughout this process. Treatment, healing, and rehabilitation take time. For this reason, it is difficult to manage serious injuries and your legal case. Hiring an attorney to handle your claim allows you to focus on what really matters while they take care of the rest.
Will the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Contact You?
Sometimes, an insurance carrier will realize their policyholder was the at-fault driver in a crash and know they cannot win the case. In that event, they could make an early offer in an attempt to close the case quickly. Some victims find this option appealing because they do not want to spend months—or longer—fighting with the insurance company for compensation.
If this happens in your case, the insurer could tell you:
- They care about your future.
- They understand you do not want to fight for the money you deserve.
- This is the best offer they will make.
- You need money now before the medical bills start coming in.
- This amount is more than many accident victims receive.
However, there is no upside to accepting lowball offers. The insurance company knows you do not yet know the possible value of your case. They want to ensure they make you a low offer before you recognize the potential settlement range for your case or even the full extent of your medical bills. Your case will likely be worth much more than the insurance company offers.
When they make these offers, you are likely still receiving treatment and do not even know your prognosis. It could take several months before you reach maximum medical recovery, get released by your doctor, or know what your future treatment and care will cost.
Even if they do not make an offer, they could contact you to ask for a recorded statement about the crash or for other reasons. While you have a contract to uphold with your own insurer, you do not have to agree to discuss anything with the other driver’s carrier. In fact, you should not agree to any recorded statements. They cannot help your case but could hurt it.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help You?
Enlisting the help of a car accident law firm as soon as possible comes with several advantages. First, they go to work protecting your rights and fighting for your best interests immediately. They handle all communication with the insurance companies and know how to navigate the process to seek fair compensation for you. They manage all parts of this process, letting you focus on healing and rehabilitation.
It also allows them to build a stronger case. Some parts of building a successful car accident case require urgency.
This is only possible if you connect with the lawyer and let them get to work quickly, so they can begin:
- Preserving evidence held the liable party holds
- Seeking video of the crash
- Identifying and interviewing additional eyewitnesses
- Documenting the accident scene as it was the day of the collision
Consulting and hiring an attorney in the first weeks following an accident also ensures you meet the applicable deadlines. Each state sets a statute of limitations that serves as a general deadline to sue the at-fault party. This time frame varies from one year to four, depending on the state.
However, under some circumstances, you might only have a few weeks or months to take steps to hold a liable party accountable. For example, cases against government agencies often require notice of the intent to file a claim. The deadline for filing this notice could be only weeks after the crash.
Why is a Car Crash Expensive?
No doubt suffering injuries in a crash significantly affects your financial standing. There are many expenses and losses associated with even relatively minor accidents. When injuries are serious, the victim’s household could face financial stress even when they were on solid ground before the accident.
The goal of an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit is to recover the money spent and lost because of a crash. When one driver causes an accident, and a victim suffers injuries, that victim should not have to pay for their treatment, car repairs, and other expenses on their own. They did not cause the crash. Instead, the at-fault driver should be held accountable and pay.
This is why car accident lawyers file insurance claims and lawsuits on behalf of their clients. They are seeking the recoverable damages available in these cases. Recoverable damages are the expenses and losses experienced because of a crash.
You can use:
- Tax paperwork
- Other documents showing related costs
What Damages Can You Recover After a Car Accident?
While each case differs, some damage categories are common in most car accident cases.
- Medical care and related expenses, both current and future
- Income lost because of time away from work
- Reduced earning capacity from long-term or permanent injuries
- Property damages, including repair or replacement of the vehicle
- Miscellaneous expenses with receipts
- Pain and suffering damages
If you work with a lawyer on your case, they identify and document your recoverable damages. They also determine possible values for your estimated future care costs and intangible losses such as pain and suffering damages.
These figures are necessary to calculate a possible settlement range in your case and know how much your case might be worth.
Who Is Liable for My Car Accident?
Knowing who is legally responsible for your crash might seem evident to you. Still, the insurance companies will want to see a high level of documentation about what happened and who is liable. Collecting this information usually requires taking many steps to collect, organize, and analyze evidence.
Some important evidence in these cases includes:
- The police accident report
- Video of the crash
- Photos from the scene
- Eyewitness interviews
- Scene survey
- Accident reconstruction
- Relevant medical records
- Physical evidence
- Expert testimony
- Documentation of the expenses and losses that occurred
An Attorney Can Collect Evidence
As you can imagine, collecting some of this evidence is especially difficult for individuals. Having an attorney on your side to manage the investigation and build the case is a significant advantage for your case. For example, determining future care costs relies on expert input from doctors, specialists, economists, and others. Individuals do not have the vast network of experts or the resources to hire them that a law firm does.
Once the evidence is available, it is time to organize and use it to support a compelling story about fault and liability. The evidence should show what happened, who acted carelessly or recklessly, how this negligence caused the collision, and the damages you suffered.
This story needs to show the proximate cause of the crash and the breadth of your losses. Your attorney can calculate a fair settlement range for your case based on the documentation collected. This analysis provides the numbers you need to know when negotiating for a fair payout.
What Are My Legal Options After a Car Accident?
Following a crash, you generally have two options for pursuing the compensation you need and deserve. This compensation helps you pay for your expenses and cover your accident-related losses.
Your attorney can pursue this payout by:
- Filing a claim based on your Florida no-fault auto insurance coverage
- Filing a claim based on the at-fault driver’s auto liability policy
- Filing a civil lawsuit in a local court
Most states allow drivers to seek compensation from the liable party from the start. After building a case, you will demand fair compensation from the insurance company, kicking off settlement negotiations.
Alternatively, your attorney might see a reason why you should sue and move forward with this process. This route could end with a jury trial, verdict, and court award. More commonly, it ends in a negotiated settlement, too.
Most cases settle outside of court, but some do need to go to trial. Attorneys often use both approaches concurrently, filing a claim and lawsuit. This way prepares the case for trial as they continue negotiating.
Even in states where drivers must carry a personal injury protection (PIP) no-fault policy, many qualify to pursue fault-based compensation. This generally occurs when injuries are serious or their treatment costs more than the policy covers. Each state has its own laws.
Contact a Vero Beach Car Accident Attorney
Discuss Your Case With a Team Member From a Local Personal Injury Law Firm
As soon as you feel well enough, it’s a good idea to speak to a team member from a local law firm. You want to work with an attorney who handles cases like yours regularly. They can take care of your claim or lawsuit while you heal and take care of yourself. This is the best option for getting back on your feet and recovering the money you deserve following a crash.
An experienced injury lawyer in Vero Beach, Florida can explain more about what to expect after a car accident. They can discuss your legal options and assess the possible outcomes.
You can ask questions and learn about how their contingency fee policies work. Most car accident lawyers do not charge upfront fees. Instead, they receive a portion of the payout, making it possible for crash victims to pay for representation regardless of their financial standing.