7 steps to securing your car accident settlement payout
Even though there’s no way to guarantee you won’t be in a collision in your lifetime, you can be prepared to handle the consequences that might follow.
What should you do when you’re involved in an accident?
Car accident cases can take on a mind of their own. Every case is different. Some will take months or even years to resolve, while others can be handled in a matter of weeks. Your case and its unique circumstances will help control its pace.
Unique circumstances aside, it’s still possible to provide a rundown of how most car accident claims tend to go. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the settlement process:
Step 1: Contact the authorities
Florida car accident laws demand that you call the authorities after a wreck when certain conditions are true, such as if there’s a death, an injury, or property damage above $500. As you might imagine, this covers almost every car accident. As a driver, you’re expected to file an accident report even when the accident seems minor. You’ll have 10 days to file an accident report, even if a full police report is not required.
With this in mind, you will want to write down the names and contact information of every person involved in your wreck. Also be sure to take pictures of the accident scene. With smartphones nowadays, it’s easier than ever to take high-quality pictures of the scene and cars. Be sure to take photos of the road and weather conditions.
Never take responsibility for the wreck without seeking the advice of a good lawyer. You may have an opportunity later to prove that you weren’t at fault, so admitting fault before you have all the information will only hurt your case.
Step 2: Seek medical attention (if necessary)
After you have called the police and answered their questions, you should seek medical treatment. Of course, in an emergency situation, go directly to the hospital. However, even if you aren’t critically injured, you may need to seek treatment after speaking with the authorities.
If you can get an early diagnosis, you will be able to better prove your injury case later. Often, when car accident victims delay seeking medical attention, the insurance company processing the claim will see that as a red flag and try to find a loophole to get out of paying. They may argue that the wreck didn’t really cause your injury because you didn’t see a doctor right away, allowing them to get out of paying what they owe.
Seeing a doctor after a car accident ensures both your medical health and your financial safety.
Step 3: Consult a car accident attorney
Talking to a knowledgeable lawyer will allow you to pursue the best car accident settlement payout. Filing an insurance claim isn’t the same as contacting a lawyer. While some people may get fair compensation after filing their insurance claim, others may need a lawyer to ensure they are treated fairly.
Lawyers protect your rights, handle all aspects of your case, and conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the case. Hiring an attorney to represent you is the best way to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of by an unscrupulous insurance company.
Step 4: File an insurance claim
According to Florida law, the person who is at fault in any accident will have to cover property damage up to the maximum amount of insurance they possess. Under Florida’s PIP system, you will also need to file a claim with your own insurance company to cover any medical expenses. However, this coverage is limited.
An experienced lawyer can walk you through this confusing process, helping you understand which policies cover which costs—and how much is covered.
Step 5: File a lawsuit (if negotiation fails)
There may be times when the insurance provider/at fault driver refuses to cooperate. If they’re not properly valuing your case, then filing a lawsuit may be the best option. A knowledgeable and trained lawyer can help you pursue a lawsuit against the at fault driver/insurer. This will begin with a properly filed complaint outlining the way the insurance company has violated the law.
Step 6: Begin pretrial negotiations
The best lawyers succeed in the pretrial portion of the case. When insurance providers fail to properly settle your case, your lawyer may use proven tactics to strengthen your negotiating position. This might mean participating in mediation to agree on a more reasonable settlement—or it might mean filing motions to exclude bad evidence.
Throughout this entire process, having a trusted and experienced attorney is the key to making sure you’re in a position of strength to settle the case in your favor.
Step 7: Take the case to court
The right lawyer can take your case all the way to trial to get what you deserve. If the insurance company will not do the right thing, trial might be necessary—even though it’s a last resort. Winning a final verdict will allow you to cash in on everything you are owed.
If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident, it’s important to seek proper representation. You don’t have to fight alone. Our Florida car accident lawyers at Tragos, Sartes & Tragos are ready to fight for you.
Contact the Tragos, Sartes and Tragos today for a free case consultation.