Car accidents can be as expensive as they are traumatic. In addition to the physical and emotional pain sustained in a car crash, the resulting medical and car repair bills can overwhelm even the most cool and collected of drivers. In most cases, accident victims are eager to put the incident behind them and move on with their lives. Unfortunately, though, the settlement process can take many months to wrap up, especially when liability is in question.
If you’re eagerly anticipating your car accident settlement, sitting and waiting can feel like torture. Here are four ways to take control of your car accident settlement.
Seek Medical Attention
It’s standard advice to seek medical care after an accident. Whether you’re treated by a paramedic on site, rushed to the emergency room for surgery, or seek an exam from your primary care physician in the aftermath of the crash, it’s a good idea to have your injuries documented. If you haven’t already sought treatment, do so as soon after the incident as possible.
Some car accidents lead to serious, ongoing health problems. While it might be tempting to wait to see a doctor until your claim is settled, it’s important to prioritize your health. Waiting until after you receive a check from the insurance company might sound more financially responsible, but it’s as bad for your wallet as it is for your injury.
In fact, many car crash lawyers recommend waiting until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement before signing any kind of settlement. Also known as MMI, this is the point in which you’ve either completely recovered or your treatment has stabilized. Once you know what the future holds for the treatment of your injuries, you can ensure your settlement covers those costs. Sign the bottom line before you’ve reached MMI and you’ll never again be able to ask for more money for medical bills.
Building a successful car accident claim requires evidence of the at-fault driver’s negligence. Even if you don’t have overhead drone footage capturing the mistake that led to your crash, you can still help collect evidence to bolster your claim. Whether you’re working to represent yourself or have hired an experienced personal injury lawyer to take the lead, documenting the entire incident is a good idea.
If you haven’t already done so, create a file of all the paperwork associated with your car accident. Collect photos from the scene of the crash, copies of the police report, information about the other driver and their insurance company, as well as any medical bills for treatment of injuries sustained in the wreck. This file will come in handy when it comes time for negotiations with the insurers.
Know the Value of Your Claim
Insurance companies are businesses, first and foremost. While they exist to help their customers, their primary goal is to turn profits for their shareholders. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why claims adjusters will do all they can to lowball accident victims. You may have to do battle with the insurance company to get the size settlement you deserve. The best weapon in your arsenal? Knowledge.
By doing your homework about accident claims, repair costs and future medical bills, you’ll go into negotiations with real power. Rather than accepting settlement offers at face value, you’ll have the knowledge of what you rightfully deserve. While you may not necessarily have your demand met by the insurance company, doing your research will help you better prepare for negotiations.
Understand Your Alternatives
Settling early almost always favors the insurance company. While you’re waiting to reach your settlement, it helps to understand your legal options. In some cases, you may start off representing yourself but opt to work with an attorney after months of back and forth with the insurance company. Since many personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, it’s worth making appointments with local attorneys to better understand your options. In some cases, they may recommend escalating your claim into a lawsuit.
It’s also worth spending some time understanding your settlement options. A lump sum payment might be initially appealing, but a structured settlement may make more sense for your lifestyle. Not only will you be able to more easily resist spending the money right away, you’ll be able to limit your tax liability, too.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your accident, it’s worth putting in a little extra effort to ensure your settlement is handled fairly. By working to understand your rights, your injuries and your settlement options, you set yourself up for success. While not every accident victim walks away with a satisfying settlement, these steps can be a productive way to wait for an insurance claim to pay out.
Eager to see how much your settlement is worth? Lawsuit Info Center’s car accident settlement calculator is a great place to start!