What are the steps to take after a car accident in order to ensure a fair settlement? The list is longer than most people think. While you may be focused on getting your car repaired and taking care of your medical bills, you could be entitled to far more, and you will need to take all of the necessary steps to secure just compensation. 

It’s tempting to want to outsource everything to an attorney, and there are many ways a good car accident lawyer can help. But, there are steps you can take before you hire an accident injury lawyer, which will help them to do their job and get you a bigger car accident settlement

Yes, we know—21 steps is a lot. But, the reality is that it takes a lot to recover your losses after being injured in a collision. You need to make smart decisions and you need to be patient, but you also need to be diligent. Recovering your losses isn’t easy, but it’s better to do the work than to get shortchanged and have to pay out of pocket. 

Car Accident Settlement

1. Write Down Everything You Remember About the Car Accident

One of the first steps to take after a car accident is to write down everything you remember. Take your time and be as detailed as possible. Don’t make any assumptions or write down anything that may or may not be accurate. Instead, just stick to the facts and record them while they are still fresh in your mind.

2. Make Sure You Understand Your Doctor’s Diagnosis and Treatment Recommendations

Seeing a doctor promptly after a car accident is extremely important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and try to make sure you have a clear understanding of your doctor’s diagnosis and the next steps in your recovery process.

3. Be Sure to Keep Your Photos and Personal Items

Any photos you took at the scene of the accident could serve as evidence in support of your claim for financial compensation. The same is true of your clothes and any other personal items that were damaged in the accident.

4. Start Getting in the Habit of Collecting Records

As you continue with your medical treatment and start going through the insurance claims process, you will receive lots of records and documentation. From medical bills and receipts to letters and emails, get in the habit of keeping copies of everything in one place.

5. Stick To Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan (or Seek a Second Opinion)

Not only will sticking to your doctor’s treatment plan help ensure that you are able to recover as quickly as possible, but it will also help ensure that you are able to recover full compensation for your injury-related losses. If you do not trust your doctor’s advice, you should not simply ignore it, but instead seek a second opinion.

6. Notify Your Employer if You Will Be Unable to Work

If you are unable to work due to your injuries (or if your doctor tells you to rest), the steps to take after a car accident include notifying your employer promptly. Not only will this ensure that your employer isn’t left wondering when (or if) you’ll be back, but it will also establish a paper trail for proving your loss of earnings.

7. Start Keeping a Daily Log, Calendar, or “Pain Journal”

In addition to compensation for your medical bills, lost earnings, and other direct financial costs, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering as well. By keeping records of your daily pain levels and the day-to-day impacts of your injuries, you can help your lawyer build a strong case for maximizing your pain and suffering damages.

8. File a Claim with Your Insurance Company Promptly

Filing a claim with your insurance company promptly is one of the most-important steps to take after a car accident. This is something that you can either do on your own or ask your attorney to do for you. If you file your claim yourself, stick to the facts, and avoid saying anything which might even arguably suggest that you were partially at fault in the accident.

9. Provide Sufficient Details So that Your Insurance Company Can Investigate

When filing your insurance claim, you must provide sufficient details so that your insurance company can conduct an investigation. If you do not provide your insurance company with the information it needs, it will not be able to assess liability—and it will not pay for your injuries.

10. Promptly Respond to All Calls, Texts, and Emails

As your claim progresses, you will need to respond promptly to all calls, texts, and emails from your adjuster. Not only will any delays extend the duration of the process, but they will also give your insurance company more potential grounds to dispute or deny your claim.

11. Follow Up if You Don’t Hear from Your Adjuster

If you do not hear from your adjuster for an extended period of time, you should follow up. While the insurance claims process takes time, it should not take longer than is necessary. Hold your adjuster accountable, and don’t be shy about following up when your questions go unanswered.

12. Collect Your Medical and Employment Records

In order to prove your losses, you will need copies of your medical and employment records. You should gather these yourself rather than giving your insurance company authorization to gather them on your behalf. If you sign an authorization form, it will give your insurance company access to far more than is necessary.

13. Determine How Much You are Entitled to Recover

When you have an insurance claim, another of the key steps to take after a car accident is to determine how much you are entitled to recover. Unless and until you know this, you cannot make a smart decision about how much to accept from your insurance company. While this is something that you can try to do on your own, as a practical matter, the only way to accurately calculate your losses is to get help from one of the experienced accident injury lawyers near you.

14. Be Persistent and Avoid Being Pressured Into a Low-Dollar Settlement

The two most-important things to know when trying to handle your own car insurance claim are: (i) you need to be persistent, and (ii) you need to expect to receive lowball settlement offers. If you give up or give in, you will not receive the compensation you deserve.

15. Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Promptly

There is no reason not to hire a lawyer after a car accident. Your lawyer will handle your claim on a contingency-fee basis, and your lawyer will be able to help maximize your settlement from the insurance companies. If you have been injured, one of the most-important steps to take after a car accident is to schedule a free initial consultation promptly.

Car Accident Settlement

16. Ask Any Questions You Want to Ask

During your free initial consultation, you should feel free to ask any questions you want to ask. A free initial consultation is your opportunity to decide both: (i) if you want to move forward with hiring a lawyer, and (ii) if this is definitely the lawyer you want to hire.

17. Be Prepared to Answer Your Lawyer’s Questions

In addition to asking questions, you should be prepared to answer your lawyer’s questions as well. While you might not know everything—and that’s okay—you should come prepared (i.e. review your notes and bring copies of any records you’ve received so far) and answer all questions to the best of your ability.

18. Be Prepared to Provide All Photos, Records, and Other Evidence You Have

In order to evaluate your claim, accident injury lawyers will need sufficient information to assess both (i) who was at fault in the accident, and (ii) how much you may be entitled to recover. The more information you are prepared to provide during your free initial consultation, the better.

19. Be Responsive So That Your Lawyer Can Keep Working On Your Claim

While your lawyer is handling your car accident insurance claim, he or she will need to speak with you from time to time. The steps to take after a car accident do not end with hiring a lawyer to represent you. When your lawyer calls, texts, or emails, always respond as soon as possible. Remember, your lawyer is working on your claim, so it is in your best interests to be responsive.

20. Allow Your Accident Injury Lawyer Time To Do His or Her Job

While accident victims can – and should – contact their accident injury lawyers when they have questions, you also need to give your lawyer time to do his or her job. Pursuing a car insurance claim is not easy, and it can take time to build a case for a favorable settlement. When you hire a lawyer to represent you, you can trust that your lawyer is working diligently to secure just compensation as quickly as possible.

21. Carefully Consider Any Settlement Offers You Receive

Receiving a settlement offer can bring a huge sense of relief, but you must carefully consider any settlement offer before accepting. Listen to your accident injury lawyer’s advice, and make an informed and reasoned decision with your long-term best interests in mind.

Car Accident Settlement

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