What to Do After a Car Accident That Is Not Your Fault
October 8, 2021 | Car Accidents
In the days and weeks after an auto accident, you may be facing serious injuries and costs—all while wondering how to seek the recovery you need. After a car accident that is not your fault, you can take several steps to begin a case for compensation, such as seeking the medical care you need and getting a free case review from an attorney.
By taking these steps, you can lay a solid foundation to seek damages for your medical bills, income losses, and more.
Important actions to take after an auto collision that someone else caused
The aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming, but you can take some important steps to protect your rights and your potential settlement value.
Needed medical care will help your case
Seeking emergency care after a car accident is an important first step, not only for your health but for your case.
This is important for an injury case because:
- Getting documentation of your injuries helps to link your injury to the crash.
- You can prove the seriousness of your injuries.
- You have documentation to track your prognosis and your recovery.
- You can demonstrate your medical costs.
If the emergency room doctor or your personal physician advises that you seek additional treatment, you should follow through with their recommendation. For example, if your doctor recommends that you undergo physical therapy, take medications, or get other care, do so—even if you are unsure about paying for the costs.
These costs are part of the pain and suffering your injuries caused, and they will help a lawyer determine the amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
Furthermore, if you don’t get recommended care, an insurer could argue that you made your injuries worse by delaying your treatment, and this could hurt not only your health, but your case.
Report the accident to your insurance company
Generally, you should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
However, there are some important practices to keep in mind when talking to an insurance company after a car accident:
- Keep communications with an insurer to a minimum. Your report only needs to relate the basic details about the accident, such as when and where the crash occurred.
- Don’t admit fault for the accident. You don’t have to tell an insurance company if you were in some way at fault. For instance, if you think you partially contributed to the accident that was mainly the other driver’s fault, you can keep this detail out of the story, and instead, speak to a lawyer for advice on how to handle this situation.
- Don’t agree to a recorded statement. If you are asked to record any comment about the crash, know that this request may not be to your benefit. Anything you say during this call could be used to harm your case or lower your settlement value.
Keep this initial communication brief and to the point. Then, if you choose to work with a lawyer, you can leave the rest of the communication to them.
Understand your injuries and prognosis before accepting a settlement
Let’s say that you get offered a quick settlement amount from an insurance company after the accident—before you have time to get legal advice.
You should first take the time you need to understand your injuries and your health outlook to know how much the accident is going to cost you long-term. In some situations, you may find that your symptoms worsen in the weeks after the crash, and you get a new prognosis from your doctor after you already accepted a settlement.
Unfortunately, if you do so, you may be left to pay for any additional medical costs that were not covered by the settlement amount.
Keep track of important evidence for your case
In the immediate aftermath of a crash, you could be too injured to start collecting evidence. However, if you took photos or gathered witness contact details at the scene, a lawyer will be able to use them to build your case.
As time goes on, you can build the following evidence file:
- Get a copy of the accident report. Generally, you can get a copy of your accident report either online or in person, but the availability of reports will vary by location.
- Hold on to any receipts for out-of-pocket costs. These may include the costs of medical devices or even transportation to doctors.
- Keep a pain journal. This can help to show how the injury affected your day-to-day life and mental health.
Begin your case as soon as you can
You should know that there are limits to how long you have to seek compensation after a negligent party causes your accident. In certain states, you could have as long as 5 years, while in other states, the deadline to file a personal injury case is set at just 2 years.
That’s why you must seek legal advice as soon as you can so that a lawyer can begin building your case before any deadlines that may apply. If your case is particularly complicated, gathering crucial evidence for your compensation will take time. If you wait too long, you may miss the deadline to file, and you will be unable to seek a financial recovery, even if your case is compelling.
Get a free legal consultation to understand your potential case value
It can be hard to understand what your case is worth on your own. For instance, you may qualify for a range of damages that you are unaware of, such as damages for your pain and suffering or mental anguish. These damages may be non-financial, but that does not mean that they have no recoverable value in your case.
A lawyer can help you understand:
- How much your case may be worth
- What damages you could seek
- How to handle any problems you’re already having with your injury case
- How the statute of limitations may affect your ability to file a lawsuit
- How to prove that the car accident was not your fault
Before you make any major decisions about how to proceed with your case or whether you will accept a settlement offer on the table, take advantage of the free case review that most lawyers offer.
Common questions from victims of car accidents seeking legal help
After an auto accident, you likely have many questions about how to proceed with your case. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions personal injury clients often ask their lawyers:
How much is my case worth?
The answer is: It depends.
While there is no predetermined amount that your car accident case could be worth, the following could influence the amount you seek through a settlement or lawsuit:
- The severity of your injuries
- The cost of your medical care
- To what extent the injury has changed your life and ability to work
- Who caused your accident
A lawyer will investigate your case and tell you what forms of compensation you may qualify to seek. These forms of compensation could reflect both your financial and non-financial losses. Your attorney will add up these numbers and determine a goal amount that you could seek in an insurance claim.
These financial and non-financial losses could include:
- Medical bills, such as the cost of emergency care, surgeries, hospitalizations, medications, physical therapy, ongoing and future care, and more
- Lost wages, reflecting paychecks you missed due to recovery
- Reduced earning capacity, if you will be unable to work as you did before the accident
- Pain and suffering, reflecting your physical pain and other hardships
- Mental anguish, if you experienced psychological challenges after the crash
- And more
Should I work with a lawyer for my case?
No law says you need to work with a lawyer to get compensation after a car crash. However, you may want to consider a lawyer’s help for many reasons.
- You are not physically or otherwise able to handle an injury case after the crash.
- You are facing severe injuries and substantial medical bills—and need to ensure the best possible chance at recovery.
- You were involved in a hit and run accident, a rideshare (Uber or Lyft) accident, a truck accident, or another accident involving complicated factors.
- You are dealing with (or don’t wish to deal with) unfair insurance practices.
- You do not wish to deal with the back-and-forth negotiations process on your own.
- You want someone else to handle your case while you focus on recovering.
You may be unsure about the value of hiring a lawyer due to the potential costs of representation. However, keep in mind that the legal costs may be less than you think.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
Law firms don’t want legal fees to hold anyone back from getting the help they need. Because of this, most personal injury lawyers work based on contingency.
This means that:
- They only receive payment if they get compensation for you.
- Their payment comes as a percentage of your final settlement or award.
- You don’t have to pay any upfront costs, such as hourly rates or retainers.
Hiring a lawyer does not have to entail any out-of-pocket costs. Lawyers who work on contingency get paid based on results.
How lawyers can help you bring a strong personal injury case
You may not wish to handle all the details that go into a personal injury case—and if not, a lawyer can handle everything involved in an insurance claim or lawsuit for you.
These services may include:
- Gathering crucial evidence for your case, including expert testimony, if needed
- Identifying the liable party or parties in your case
- Submitting necessary paperwork for you
- Writing a demand letter to submit to the insurance company and start a claim
- Negotiating a settlement for you
- Litigating on your behalf and bringing a case to trial, if necessary
- Advising you on how the statute of limitations could affect your case
- Protecting you from bad faith insurance practices
Your lawyer will use their knowledge of personal injury law to seek the best possible outcomes for you.
An attorney will handle the most complicated aspects of a case
Even seemingly straightforward cases can involve complex factors. You don’t have to take on complicated cases alone.
If you face these problems, an attorney can deal with them:
- Lowball settlement offers: Unfortunately, an insurance company may try to keep their costs low and avoid paying you what you could be owed.
- Unfair claims that you were at fault: If an insurer tries to claim that you played more of a role in the crash than you did, we can point to the facts in the case and show that the other party was primarily responsible.
- A denial of your injury’s seriousness: The insurance company can claim that your injuries are not as bad as they are or that they’re related to a pre-existing health condition. You don’t have to handle unfair accusations alone.
Having a lawyer on your side means that you can focus on healing while the lawyer handles the complications of an insurance claim or lawsuit. They can be an advocate for you through every step of the process.
Get a free case review after your car accident
Whether you were involved in a car accident, truck accident, or other motor vehicle accident, a lawyer can help you seek the recovery you need.
Learn your legal options today by requesting a free, no-obligation consultation with our St. Louis car accident lawyers today.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132