How to Get the Most Out of Your Car Accident Settlement
Those of you living in New Orleans already know that when car accidents occur, Louisiana’s “No Pay, No Play” law can become problematic. This is why having car insurance is so important and mandatory. Once obtaining insurance, the legal wranglings of a car accident settlement has easier inroads with proper legal representation.
Winning a settlement for a car accident is still a complicated process. Without an experienced legal team in your corner, dealing with an accident settlement is risky.
How much you could receive is another big question. What can you do to get the most out of that settlement? It comes down to finding as much evidence as possible, including hiring the proper legal team to put it all together.
Document the Scene of the Accident
Most people have cameras built in to their smartphones, making it easier now to take pictures of anything within seconds. Taking pictures of your car accident should become a top priority.
Be sure to document the damage done to your car, in addition to the damage on the other person’s vehicle. Acquiring all this documentation goes a long way to determine who exactly caused the accident to win your case.
Likewise, if you hire an attorney to come to the scene of the accident, they can also take photos as evidence. Other evidence gathered directly from the scene may include:
- Taped footage from traffic cameras of the accident as it occurred.
- Accident debris to analyze the impact of the accident.
- Information collected from the other driver or drivers.
- An accident report from the police.
One thing to remember is all possibility exists you sustained injuries and are unable to take photos on your own. If so, it makes contacting a car accident attorney as soon as possible all the more imperative. Should you have capability to call an attorney from a safe location, have them visit the location to collect evidence for you.
Attorneys who focus on car accident cases have professional cameras with them to help assist. They can even acquire the accident report for you if you need transport to a hospital for injuries.
Gain a Detailed Police Report
While pictures and video will become essential evidence, the police report is far more official. More detail is usually placed into these reports, including names of those involved. In many cases, it also means recorded evidence, sometimes from witnesses who saw the accident happen.
To get a police report at the accident scene, you need to call 911 as soon as the incident occurs. Police will usually be there anyway, since someone usually calls 911 if witnessing an accident. Then again, if in a quiet area, it may end up being your responsibility to call for emergency response. Others involved in the accident may have inability to call police due to being injured.
Be sure to get involved in helping police put together the report. You can even give them your own photos or video since the report becomes legal evidence in your favor.
As everyone who lives in the St. Louis area knows, many country roads exist where an accident could occur with few to any observers. Finding ways to get police there as soon as possible is critical toward gaining a clear police report.
In addition to the above evidence, obtain the names of the police officers involved, including their badge numbers. Compiled detail plays a big part to prove your side of the story.
Never Sign Any Documentation From an Insurance Company
After the accident occurs, an insurance company may visit the scene and do their own investigation into what happened. These investigations are often similar to what the police do and may involve:
- Analysis of traffic camera footage.
- Accident reconstruction at the location.
- Taking pictures of any damage to vehicles if at the accident scene.
They also request a copy of the police report to gain as big a picture as possible on what happened. Their conclusion is often in favor of the other person who perhaps is to blame. As a result, the insurance company may try to pin the blame on you rather than the other person or people.
Oftentimes, insurance companies save time going to court by offering you a settlement up front. Far too many people end up signing these documents to their detriment. These settlements are usually lower than what is really deserved.
Never sign a settlement agreement on your own with an insurance company. If you want to get the largest amount possible, leaving that initial insurance settlement offer alone is your best bet.
Rather than sign away any possibility of the insurance company being liable, get some legal representation. With an experienced car accident attorney, they handle all contact with the insurance companies so you never have to. Because communicating and negotiating with insurance companies is very complicated, this removes all burden on you, especially if recovering from injuries.
Your legal team fights to renegotiate the insurance claim so you get a higher amount than the smaller offer they initially put forth.
Get a Medical Examination
A major mistake some car accident victims make is not going to seek immediate medical attention. Sometimes injuries look initially minor, then turn more serious later. Waiting to seek a medical examination could come back to haunt you in winning a settlement.
An insurance company could use this against you in the assumption you never sustained the serious injuries you say. Always take time for a medical examination the same day, even if you think there is nothing to worry about.
Unfortunately, adrenaline at the scene of an accident sometimes masks the reality of hidden internal injuries. Not being examined for latter could lead to even more serious health problems, if potentially death.
While there to get your medical examination, be sure to obtain a copy of your medical report. Having this in your possession is as important as the police report and any personal evidence you acquired. During a trial, your medical report determines exactly what the extent of your injuries are to prove you deserve a higher settlement amount.
Gaining Legal Help With Your Personal Injury Claim
Always be sure to file a personal injury claim since this is also used as evidence if your case goes to trial. Many people fill these claims out on their own, yet usually sign those initial insurance settlement offers mentioned above.
Hiring a car accident attorney first is in your best interest so the legal team makes sure you fill out your claim correctly. Any misstatements or other errors done on your own will only hurt you later.
The general legal rule is to seek legal representation if your car accident settlement becomes overly complicated. When loss of life occurs and more extensive damage to property occurs, hiring an attorney is a must.
Regardless, even a seeming minor car accident case could end up becoming more complex later. Always hire an attorney at the scene of your accident as a legal security net.