You’ve seen the billboards and TV commercials of personal injury attorneys claiming million-dollar-plus awards for clients, and you’re wondering how a car accident could be worth that much money. The reality is that very few auto accident claims are worth that much, but most claims are worth more than what the injured party ends up taking away. If you or a family member is injured in a serious automobile crash that is not your fault, how can you be sure you get what you are truly owed by the at-fault party? Our Indianapolis car accident lawyer mentions how there are multiple factors at play.
The Three Most Important Factors
The three factors that will have the biggest impact on the value of your claim are the extent of your injuries, the amount of insurance the at-fault driver has, and whether you have an experienced Indiana auto accident lawyer or not. Here’s how these factors affect a claim:
- Injuries. The more serious your injuries are, the higher your medical expenses will be, and the more your claim will be worth. A permanent disability has a much bigger financial impact than a broken bone or soft tissue injury. So the biggest accident claim payouts you see are almost always for catastrophic injuries.
- Insurance. You can’t get blood from a stone, as they say. If the person responsible for your crash is uninsured or carries Indiana’s minimum insurance amounts, what you can get in a settlement will be limited. It’s likely that your own insurance will cover some of your medical expenses, but it probably won’t cover other damages.
- Legal representation. Car accident victims who work with a personal injury attorney to settle a claim or file a lawsuit generally end up with more compensation than people who choose to work directly with the insurance company on their own. While it doesn’t usually pay to hire an attorney for a minor injury, when you require emergency room treatment and hospitalization following a car crash, an attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of your claim.
Assuming these three factors come into play in your case—you were seriously injured, the at-fault driver has decent insurance, and you have hired a lawyer—there are still things you can do to maximize the value of your claim.
What to Do at the Scene of the Crash and Immediately After in Indiana
Like with any legal case, one of the main differences between a weak claim and a strong claim is the evidence you have to present. In a car accident case, you want strong evidence that the other driver was fully at fault and proof that your injuries are significant. Since this evidence is harder to collect after the fact, it’s important that you do the following as soon as possible after the crash:
- Call the police. If another driver caused the crash, a police report detailing how it happened will be a vital piece of evidence. Better yet, if the police issue a traffic citation to the other driver, your claim with be strengthened further. Even if it feels like it will create more problems for you, it is essential that you call 911 after the crash.
- Gather information and take pictures. If you or someone else at the scene is able to do so, taking pictures of the scene and collecting contact information from others involved in the accident and eyewitnesses could be very helpful in proving your claim. It might be your only opportunity to capture the damage done to your vehicle before it is hauled away.
- Go to the hospital. Medical records will be key in proving the seriousness of your injuries. Going to the emergency room or an urgent care center as soon as possible after the crash will not only get you the medical care you need but will also prove that you took the crash seriously. You will also start a paper trail of medical treatment that will be helpful later on.
- Follow all medical advice. Just as important as seeing a doctor is following the treatment plan you are given. Failure to do so could convince an insurance adjuster that you do not need the compensation you are demanding. Do not make the mistake of thinking you need to slow down your recovery in order to make a stronger claim.
- Do not give statements to the insurance company. The insurance company for the at-fault driver will try every trick in the book to deny your claim or reduce its value. A common tactic is to catch you making inconsistent statements about how the crash happened or what your injuries are. The best way to avoid this is to say as little as possible to the adjusters and refer them to your lawyer.
- Call an attorney. As we said earlier, having a lawyer is crucial to obtaining the maximum potential value of your claim. The sooner you call for a free consultation about your case, the sooner your lawyer can start building your claim and handling the insurance company on your behalf.
- Follow your attorney’s advice. Once you have an attorney, you should follow their instructions for handling your claim. The attorney will take over communicating with the insurance company, police, hospital records department, and more. While they do the work, you should continue medical treatment, avoid social media, and do whatever else your attorney advises you to do.
Obviously, if you are so badly hurt in the crash that you are taken away by ambulance, you should not worry about any of these steps. Your attorney will still be able to build a strong claim for you.