If you have been in a car accident resulting from someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you are entitled to a financial settlement. The settlement should be large enough to cover all damages, both to your body and to your vehicle. Unfortunately, insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and their goals are in direct contrast to your own. Insurance companies are trying to pay out the least amount of money possible on each claim they receive. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to maximize the settlement you will receive.
Know What a Personal Injury Settlement Covers
There is no “standard” personal injury settlement. Each settlement might be as unique and different as each car accident that it’s related to. Your accident can affect you in ways that are specific to your circumstances. Medical bills and car repairs are often a given, but your age, health, and work status will also affect the outcome. A head of the household, for instance, might be granted additional funds to cover the wages they will lose during recovery. A young adult might receive a higher settlement than a senior citizen because the injuries may impact their future more severely. By knowing what is covered and how it pertains to your situation, you can maximize your payout.
Seek Medical Treatment
After a car accident, many people tend to downplay their injuries. You may feel embarrassed, frightened, or simply relieved that the accident wasn’t worse than it was. Either way, there is a good chance that adrenaline is coursing through your veins. This can often make it difficult to assess the full extent of your injuries. By seeking medical treatment immediately, you not only ensure your safety but also provide documentation of your injuries. This documentation will be very compelling evidence when it comes time to settle your claim.
Document the Scene
Alerting the police is a requirement of Washington State anytime an accident involves $500 worth of property damage or someone is injured. Also, a police report is an excellent way of documenting exactly what happened. Both drivers’ statements will be taken, as will any relevant photos and eyewitness testimonies. Documenting the scene on your own is also encouraged. If your claim goes to trial, the judge and jury will be particularly interested in photos from the scene. With no police reports or documentation, the case can quickly devolve into a he-said-she-said situation.
Never Admit Fault
Washington operates under the comparative negligence law. This means that both drivers in an accident can assume some percentage of responsibility for the damages that occur. After an accident, it is common for people to apologize or attempt to explain how they got into this predicament. This is always a mistake. Statements like these can be used against you later to lower your settlement amount.
Imagine a scenario at a four-way stop. You have the right of way, so you drive through the intersection. Another driver ignores his stop sign and sideswipes you. This is a clear case of that driver being at fault. However, if you say something at the scene that indicates you may have been distracted while driving, the liability for the accident may be split between the two of you.
Even if the jury finds you were only 25% responsible, the damages the other driver must pay will be lowered by 25%. The best way to maximize your settlement is never to admit fault at the scene.
Don’t Accept the First Offer
Insurance companies are trying to make a profit. As such, they will often offer you a lowballed amount for your damages. Don’t fall for it. These offers often come hastily after an accident before the full impact of your injuries is known. Car accident injuries usually require extended recovery periods and lengthy rehabilitation. It is the insurance company’s goal to have you accept an offer before these expensive treatments are approved. Your best course of action is to have an intermediary between you and the claims adjuster. An experienced attorney will fight for a settlement amount that meets all of your needs.
Hire An Experienced Attorney
If you have sustained injuries in a car accident, you are almost guaranteed to receive a higher settlement with a highly skilled and experienced attorney fighting on your behalf. They can handle the insurance companies and debt collectors while you focus on your recovery. If needed, they can represent your interests at trial and prove your case to a judge and jury.
At NBF Accident Law, we fight purposefully and diligently to get you all the compensation you are owed. Call us today at (206) 923-8888, and let us show you how courage and integrity can make all the difference to your case.