What You Need to Know After a Car Accident

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Car accidents can be traumatic events, often resulting in serious injuries and loss of property.  The time immediately following the accident can be especially hectic and confusing.  However, there are steps you can take during this time that can help you seek compensation for your injuries and damages afterward. Of these steps, one of the most important will be to contact an experienced car accident attorney to help you pursue compensation.

If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, call the auto accident attorneys from Zinda Law Group at 512 246-2224 for a free consultation. If we don’t reach a favorable settlement in your case, you won’t owe us anything.

Document Everything

If you are involved in a car accident, you should attempt to document as much evidence of the accident as possible carefully.  Taking photos at the scene of the accident is one such way to gather evidence.  You should take photos of your own car and any other vehicle involved.  Be sure to take these photos from multiple angles, including all sides and corners.

Make sure that you have close-up photos as well as photos taken at intermediate and long distances away from the vehicles. This allows you to capture the scene around the vehicles, which may help prove details of how the accident occurred.

You should also get photos of the license plates of the vehicles involved.  Pictures of the car’s interiors are also important, as they may show whether or not an airbag deployed, glass was shattered, as well as other damages. You should also take pictures of any injuries you may have sustained, as well as those of others involved if you have their permission to do so.  Other items you may need to photograph may include skid marks and outside factors that may have contributed to the accident.

Taking notes of the details surrounding the accident as soon as possible after the accident will help prevent them from being forgotten or distorted by time.  These notes should include road conditions, the manner in which the accident occurred, details of the surrounding area, and any other details pertaining to the accident.  You will also want to take note of the vehicles involved, including their make, model, color, and other identifying details, as well as take note of the VIN number of these vehicles if possible.

You should get the contact information of the other drivers involved, as well as exchange insurance information.  If there are any witnesses to the accident, you will also need to obtain their contact information.  Collect the names and contact information for any passengers involved in the accident in other vehicles as well.

It is also important to obtain any medical records pertaining to injuries you may have suffered in the accident, as this will help prove that your injuries were caused by the accident, as well as provide a reliable record of their nature and extent.  Bills and invoices pertaining to your vehicle, such as towing fees and repairs, should also be preserved.  Police reports regarding accidents can also be helpful and should be obtained.

The more documentation you are able to provide, the better, as this documentation can help you to prove fault, as well as prove what damages and injuries were caused by the accident.

Get Your Injuries Seen by a Doctor

It is extremely important to have any injuries seen by a doctor immediately after an accident, even if they appear to be minor.  Serious injuries are a common occurrence in car accidents, and these injuries are usually fairly obvious to detect.  However, there are many cases where the victim of a car accident may only experience minor pain or discomfort and decide they do not need to seek medical attention.  This can be a serious, if not deadly, mistake.  Many serious injuries caused by car accidents may not readily appear immediately afterward and may take some time to fully manifest.  Often, the minor aches and pains suffered by car accident victims are indicative of a much more serious injury.  Some of these hidden injuries can include:

Head & Neck Injuries

Often, after a car accident, victims may experience relatively mild symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or stiffness.  Such symptoms may not seem that serious but can be a sign that you may have suffered a concussion, traumatic brain damage, or whiplash.  These are all serious injuries that should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor as soon as possible.

Back Injuries       

Back pain may not be present immediately after an accident but may manifest hours or even days after the accident.  While back pain can often be caused by bruising and other minor injuries, it may also be a sign of a pinched nerve or spinal damage, which can be serious and if left untreated continue to worsen.

Internal Injuries  

Car accidents can often result in internal injuries, often caused by seat belts constraining the victim.  However, internal injuries are by nature difficult to detect, especially immediately after an accident.  Bruising may take some time to become apparent, and the affected area may not cause immediate pain.  Bruises, nausea, and abdominal pain are all signs you may have suffered from internal injuries and bleeding.  These kinds of injuries are very serious, and if not diagnosed or treated, could lead to death.

How To File A Car Accident Claim

1. Notify Your Insurer

You should notify your insurer of the accident as soon as possible.  If you wait to notify your insurer, they may deny your claim.

2. Contact A Personal Injury Attorney

Once you have notified your insurer, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney.  They can investigate your accident, and this investigation can help determine fault and if negligence may have been involved.

3. Negotiation

Once you have recovered fully from your injuries, or reached your maximum medical improvement, your attorney can help you determine an appropriate amount of compensation to address your medical costs, property damages, and pain and suffering.  Your attorney can present your claim to the insurer with all of the necessary information laid out.  The insurer will make an initial offer. However, this initial offer may be quite low, as the insurer will seek to pay out as little as possible.

Your attorney can continue to make counteroffers and to negotiate with the insurer until a settlement can be reached.  The willingness of the insurer to agree to a settlement can be influenced by many factors, including who was at fault, the extent of injuries, willingness to continue negotiations over an extended time, and how they believe the facts of the accident will appear to a jury if the case goes to trial.

4. Trial

If the insurer refuses to settle your claim, your case may go to trial.  Your attorney can represent you during the trial and seek the compensation you may be entitled to.

Be Wary of the Insurance Company

Insurance companies often portray themselves as protective, concerned entities, who only want to help you get back on your feet after an accident. Insurance adjusters may seem to empathize with your situation, showing heartfelt concern.  However, insurance companies are a business, and as such, their first priority is profit.

The best outcome for the insurer is usually not the best outcome for you.  Insurers will seek to pay as little as possible to settle your claim, and their claims adjuster’s job is to make sure this happens.  Claims adjusters are paid to seek out any reason or excuse to minimize the amount the insurer pays to settle a claim.  It is important to keep this in mind when dealing with them and avoid doing or saying anything that may hurt your claim, such as admitting fault.  An experienced car accident attorney can help you level the playing field and navigate the complexities of seeking the compensation you deserve after a car accident.

What You Need to Know About Compensation

Settlements for car accident claims can include economic as well as non-economic compensation.

Economic Claims                    

Medical Costs

Medical costs include ambulance fees, diagnosis, treatment, and medication required to treat injuries sustained in the car accident.

Property Damages 

Property damages can cover costs to repair or replace a vehicle damaged in the accident.  If repair is too costly or not possible, compensation to replace the vehicle may be offered based on the fair market value of the car at the time of the accident.

Loss of Income

If you are unable to work due while you recover from injuries suffered in the accident, you may be able to claim compensation for lost wages during your recovery period.

Loss of Earning Potential

If, as a result of injuries sustained in the accident, you are no longer capable of performing the duties required for your occupation, you may be able to seek compensation for the loss of ability to earn income.  This compensation takes a variety of factors into consideration, such as salary before the accident and age.

Non-Economic Damages

Pain and Suffering      

Pain and suffering is awarded to compensate for the pain and anguish caused by injuries due to the accident.  Pain and suffering compensation may vary, as it is based on many factors that are unique to every case, such as the severity of the injuries suffered and their impact on the quality of life of the injured individual.

Time Limits

The statute of limitations limits the amount of time you have to file a claim.  The statute of limitations for personal injury claims varies by state but is usually two years in most states.

In Texas, the statute of limitations for car accidents is two years. In Colorado, it is three years. Claims filed after the relevant statute of limitations has expired will generally be dismissed.

Bring Your Case to Zinda Law Group

Insurance companies have teams of lawyers who do nothing but work to ensure the insurance companies pay as little as possible to settle claims.  By consulting and hiring an attorney, you can pursue the compensation you may be entitled to while being prepared for the insurance company’s attorneys and their tactics.

If you have been involved in a car accident, you should speak to an experienced attorney from Zinda Law Group as soon as possible.  Our car accident attorneys can help you file your claim, investigate the accident, gather evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company.

Your attorney can gather evidence regarding your accident and use this information to determine fault and whether negligence was involved.  Insurers often base their settlement offers on how they perceive the case may go if brought to trial.  We can use the evidence they have gathered to strengthen your bargaining position and can seek maximum compensation.

For a free case evaluation with an experienced car accident attorney, call Zinda Law Group at 512 246 2224. If we don’t reach a favorable settlement in our case, you won’t owe us anything.