Car accidents occur in the U.S. at alarming rates, often leaving affected drivers and passengers wondering how to physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially recover from the stressful ordeal. An average of six million car accidents happens annually in the U.S., with negligent or reckless car drivers causing one-third of individuals involved in the collisions to suffer permanent injuries as a result.
You can take some simple safety measures to protect yourself should you find yourself the victim of a car accident. One in seven people do not wear a seatbelt, but seatbelts can reduce fatalities by 45 percent and reduce the risk of serious injury by 50 percent. Regardless, you can never fully prepare yourself for the immediate consequences and aftermath of a crash.
Expenses associated with car accidents can quickly rise when you consider the costs of property damage, medical bills, and time off from work. Nonetheless, you can often receive compensation for your expenses resulting from a car accident if you take the proper proactive and protective steps after the unforeseeable setback as well.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident to Increase Your Chances for a Payout
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, ensure that you and your passengers, if any, are safe. A wreck can cause adrenaline levels and emotions to rise, but it’s important to remain level-headed. You should first call the police and request an ambulance if anyone is injured.
Alerting the police allows you to file and request a copy of a written report of the car accident. This written report will serve as a record of the car accident. It contains key evidence that may be crucial in proving your case to receive needed compensation. The evidence contained in a police report might include interview details that the police conducted with witnesses and the other party, whether the other party was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and relevant weather conditions.
Before leaving the crash scene, take pictures of all vehicles involved, tread marks, street markings, and sustained personal injuries.
Finally, it’s critical to get the other driver’s contact and insurance information. Part of the process of getting paid following a car accident involves filing a claim with your and the other driver’s insurance providers.
If you or your passengers did not receive immediate medical care but experienced an injury or are now experiencing non-visible symptoms, schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon after your car accident as possible. A physician can properly examine you, document your injuries, and suggest a treatment plan. Not only will the doctor’s notes benefit your car accident case by providing additional expert evidence related specifically to your sustained injuries, but it can also support your claim for lost wages if you have to take off time from work.
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How Insurance Affects Your Payout
The next action you’ll need to take after a car accident is to file an insurance claim.
Florida follows a no-fault insurance standard. In a no-fault jurisdiction, each car accident party must file an insurance claim with their own insurance providers to get compensation regardless of fault. While the no-fault system seems counterintuitive, it may help pay for minor accidents and fund expenses should the other party not have sufficient insurance coverage.
The no-fault standard does allow car accident victims to file a liability claim against the other party for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering if their injuries are severe.
In Florida, the tort threshold includes four injury types:
- Permanent injury
- Severe scarring or disfigurement
- Significant or permanent loss of a major bodily function
The tort threshold does not apply to an injured party’s ability to collect economic damages for actual expenses incurred due to the accident.
Types of Payment
The types of compensation potentially recoverable after a car accident include:
- Medical bills – Car accident victims can get reimbursed for hospital and doctor visits; treatments, such as pain medication and physical therapy; and medical transportation costs.
- Pain and suffering – This refers to the physical and psychological trauma that a car accident victim experiences during and after the accident. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common psychological condition that results from serious car accidents.
- Lost income – You can potentially receive income already lost and future lost wages if you cannot work due to the injuries you sustained due to the car accident caused by another driver’s negligence or recklessness.
- Punitive damages – While this type of compensation is less typical in car accident claims due to its penalizing nature, it is still potentially a consideration if the other party’s behavior was grossly negligent or intentionally wrongful.
Depending on the agreement between the parties and their insurers, insurance payouts might come in a lump cash payment or installments. Usually, though, the recipient gets a check totaling the settlement amount.
Keep a Record of All of Your Expenses, Bills, Injuries, and Doctor Visits
To prove expenses incurred in the accident, you must keep thorough records and receipts. Keep a detailed log and tangible paper trails of medical bills, such as ambulatory expenses, emergency room visit invoices, subsequent doctor visit co-pays and invoices, and payments for treatments or home adjustments to accommodate your injuries.
Likewise, maintain a record of all expenses related to property damage, including damages to your car and your personal property located in the car at the time of the accident. These documents are crucial not only for an insurance claim but also if you plan on filing a lawsuit or entering into settlement negotiations with the other party.
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How a Lawyer Can Help You
There’s a lot of uncertainty involved in the aftermath of a car accident. Seeking an experienced lawyer’s assistance can relieve some of your burdens and significantly increase your chances of receiving compensation to help you recover from your injuries.
Car accident attorneys know relevant laws and procedural rules to help build your case and successfully negotiate a payout. Your lawyer can advocate for you in mediation, arbitration, and trial settings. Car accident attorneys with backgrounds in handling car accident cases can use their knowledge to determine your case’s value and leverage that understanding during insurance negotiations.
Because many car accident attorneys charge on a contingency-fee basis, meaning they only recover upon successfully resolving a case, there’s little risk involved to you and heightened incentive for them to yield satisfactory results. Contact Viles & Beckman, LLC to learn more about your legal options.