The law allows you to be compensated by a responsible party if they cause you damage in a car accident. However, people are often unsure about their rights or even about what caused their crash. Even if you are certain the other driver was liable - such as when the driver gets arrested for being drunk - you still might not know where to begin when it comes to recovering the compensation you deserve.
Consult a Car Accident LawyerThe best way to get paid after a car accident is to consult an attorney who handles car accident cases. You can set up a free consultation during which you will discuss the circumstances of your accident, the injuries you sustained, and the compensation that is available. Car accident liability can be a surprisingly complicated issue in many cases. More than one other party might be responsible, or the cause of the crash might not be readily apparent without further investigation. While you focus on your physical healing, you can let your attorney identify the parties who should pay for your losses.
Signs That Your Car Accident Was Someone Else’s FaultWhile car accidents can be complicated, there are some tell-tale signs that you have a strong case against another driver. When accidents happen due to the negligence of others, the law typically entitles victims to compensation. In addition, in most cases, when a driver violates a traffic law and causes an accident, they will be liable. Some common causes of accidents that typically entitle victims to compensation include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Failure to yield
- Improper turns
- Following too closely
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Failure to maintain control
Calculating Your CompensationOnce a lawyer determines that you have a valid claim, they will need to analyze how much compensation is appropriate to fully cover your losses. Calculating damages can be challenging, and you will benefit greatly from having the experience and knowledge of an attorney that knows the value of cases like yours. For your financial losses, your lawyer can look at documents such as medical bills and pay statements showing the wages you lost and medical expense you incurred. They can add up your past lost income and medical costs, which is fairly straightforward. It gets more complicated from here. If your injuries are serious, you might have future losses as well. This includes the expenses of future medical treatment and lost future earnings if you still cannot return to work or need to find a different job. You cannot time travel into the future and know how much you will lose due to your injuries, but your lawyer has resources and tools they can use to figure out a reasonable estimate. Demonstrating future losses often requires different types of experts. For example, a medical expert familiar with treating your specific injuries can give their opinion on what types of treatment you will need and the expected costs of that treatment. To help determine lost income, your lawyer can seek assistance from economic and occupational experts. Having a lawyer with access to the right expert network can help your claim immensely so you do not have to guess about your losses. Finally, your attorney will review the value of your non-economic losses, which can include:
- Pain and suffering - Many injuries cause pain that can have a significant impact on your life.
- Mental trauma - Victims can suffer mental trauma from the pain of their injuries or conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the trauma of the car accident itself.
- Loss of enjoyment of life - If your injury keeps you from participating in enjoyable activities like you used to, you can recover compensation for this loss.
- Permanent injuries - Severe injuries can result in permanent disfigurement, impairments, or disabilities, and you can seek compensation for the permanent and life-altering nature of your injuries.
Seeking the Payment You DeserveAfter your lawyer evaluates your total damages, they can begin the insurance claim process. This involves preparing and filing a claim with the insurance companies of the liable parties. From here, the process of getting insurance payments involves:
- Sending a demand letter with the claim - The demand letter spells out your losses and establishes a starting point for negotiating a settlement agreement.
- Negotiating a settlement - Not surprisingly, insurance companies typically do not issue payment immediately upon receipt of a demand letter. Instead, they usually make a counteroffer that is significantly less than the amount requested in the demand letter. This will begin a negotiation process during which your lawyer will attempt to convince the insurance company to agree to pay you an amount that adequately covers your accident-related losses.
- Accepting a settlement offer - If the insurance company makes a reasonable settlement offer and you accept it, you will sign paperwork releasing the company and its policyholders from any further liability in return for a payment. The insurance company will then issue a payment to you and your attorney.