Being involved in a car accident is an overwhelming, and often painful, experience. Having to worry about paying for medical bills and missing time at work when the accident was not even your fault can be particularly frustrating. The very last thing you want to do in the middle of all of the stress is ensure proper compensation from an insurance company.
Some insurance companies are very skilled at minimizing the amount they pay for personal injuries. Typically, an insurance company will not be forthcoming about the amount of coverage an insured driver may have, and can even pressure the injured person to settle for far less than deserved. Personal injuries fall under Tort Law, and being familiar with it can increase your settlement considerably. Obtaining skilled legal representation can relieve much of the stress following your accident and facilitate a more favorable settlement.
Follow These Steps
Here are steps you can take following your accident, which will set the foundation for receiving the proper settlement for your injuries:
- Do not claim that you are uninjured. While it may feel natural to insist you are okay to reduce the stress of the situation, making such a statement can cause future difficulties when injuries surface. Many accident related injuries lay dormant and pain associated with those injuries can increase over time.
- Document your experience as soon as possible. Your account of the accident will be much more accurate the closer it is to the actual event. Having documentation of specific details can help you and your lawyer refute inconsistent or false statements from the other driver(s).
- Keep a journal of all pain and suffering related to your injuries, as well as any subsequent expenses you have incurred. It is easy to forget or overlook increasing pain or medical expenses over time.
Report Your Collision
All collisions involving a personal injury or multiple injuries are investigated by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). If the police are called to the scene of the accident, they will file an official report. In this case, you can obtain a copy of the official report for your records. If the police are not called to the accident, and therefore do not file an official report, it is important for you to file a report with the WSDOT. Each driver must file a report within four (4) days of the accident. This is particularly important if you sustained any injuries. You can get collision report forms from your local police department, county sheriff’s office, or Washington State Patrol detachment. Preserving evidence is essential to later establishing that your injuries are a direct result of the accident.
A personal injury lawyer can help you preserve evidence early in the process. Your lawyer can also be proactive in negotiating with the insurance company early on, when you are still recovering. Furthermore, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if you do, and will offer you a free consultation to discuss your options. One very important thing to remember is that time can either work for or against you. Documenting your injuries, reporting your collision (if not already done by a police officer), and consulting with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following your accident will greatly help when later reaching a settlement.
Have questions regarding your rights in an auto accident? Contact us.