After a car accident, you may think you have it all covered when it comes to getting a settlement for the damage to your vehicle, medical bills, and more. But what you may not know is just how complicated the settlement process can be, and more importantly, how to ensure you are receiving a fair and reasonable offer from the other insurance company.
When people are hurt or seriously injured in a car accident, the initial pain and suffering is often compounded by persistent contact from insurance companies hoping to settle claims quickly and for as little money as possible.
Accepting a quick settlement from the responsible driver’s insurance company is not in your best interest.
Hiring an experienced lawyer soon after your car accident can relieve some of the stress from the auto accident and is the best way to ensure you receive the maximum settlement and get your life back in order.
One of the first questions we hear from innocent victims and their families after a motor vehicle accident is, “What is my case worth?” No doubt a reasonable question given the medical, work and family challenges that can often result after a car crash.
However, you should be very skeptical of lawyers who tell you during your first phone call or meeting that they can predict the value of your case on the spot.
The true value of your case cannot be predicted until you, your doctors and your lawyer fully understand the extent of your injuries, the length of time it takes you to heal, the medical treatment required to treat your injuries, the cost of that medical treatment and the amount of time, if any, you’ve missed from work.
We believe in providing you with the information you need to make well-informed decisions about your case and advising you about the best time to settle your car accident claim as efficiently and effectively as possible. Below we’ve outlined some simple tips to help you through each phase of the claims process.
Collect All of the Necessary Car Accident Information
In the days following an accident, it’s very important to:
- Get the names and phone numbers of anyone who may have been a witness to your accident. Sometimes the police officers who investigate your accident will do this, but if you know of someone who saw what happened, it is a good idea to ask them for their name and phone number.
- Contacting our lawyers soon after the accident will ensure that we will quickly get to work for you, collecting witness statements, police reports, photographs, medical records and any other information that is related to your accident. Our lawyers will quickly and efficiently investigate and document factors that may have contributed to your accident, including: weather conditions, traffic, time of day and any hazards that were present. This initial investigation of your accident is not only helpful, but often essential in supporting and proving your case and securing the maximum payout.
Contact Your Insurance Company
As soon as you are able, it’s important that you reach out to your insurance company to let them know that you’ve been in an accident. You can not only provide your insurance company with information about the accident that can help them take steps to repair your vehicle, but you can also be reminded of the type of insurance coverage you have purchased and what is available to assist you, such as coverage in your auto policy to pay your medical bills, or uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
People are sometimes reluctant to use their own auto insurance for things like getting their car fixed or paying medical bills for fear their insurance premiums will go up. This is most often not the case.
The most important factor in determining whether to raise auto insurance rates is who was responsible for causing the auto accident. If you weren’t at fault, it is highly unlikely your insurance company will raise your rates.
We encourage clients not to speak with representatives of other insurance companies under any circumstances. If someone from another insurance company calls you, be polite, and simply ask them to contact your attorney.
Be sure to take down the name and contact information of the insurance representative and contact your attorney to let them know you were contacted by someone seeking information about your accident.
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Seek Medical Treatment and Follow All Medical Instructions
After a car accident, it’s important to seek medical attention for any and all injuries sustained in order to speed your recovery, minimize any long-term effects and get the best evaluation of the injuries related to your claim. It’s not uncommon for pain to surface a few days, or even weeks after a crash, so even if you were involved in a minor accident, you could have sustained neck, back or spinal injuries, which may result in long-term effects on your well-being. In addition to being detrimental to your health, waiting to seek treatment can raise questions from insurance adjusters on whether your injuries are, in fact, a result of your accident.
Following physician orders and being diligent about any prescribed physical therapy, demonstrates that you are committed to your recovery, which is important to an insurance adjuster, a mediator, or a jury.
Throughout your treatment, keep track of all of the medical professionals who are involved with your care, including any procedures, therapy sessions and medications you receive. In the aftermath of an accident, it’s beneficial for you to put effort into your recovery process.
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Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
We often hear people say, “I’m trying to settle with theinsurance company, and I want to know if their offer is good or not. What do you think?” As we mentioned above, it’s virtually impossible to estimate a reasonable value for your case during an initial phone call.
Before making statements to any insurance company, hiring an attorney to work on your behalf and fully prepare your case will help you determine the true value of your case and recover the maximum benefit.
There are many elements to consider when selecting a personal injury attorney, including experience with your type of case, compassion and accessibility, and whether they will prepare your case for trial.
During your initial consultation with a personal injury attorney, you should expect to have an open and honest discussion about your case, but be prepared to ask specific questions about the firm’s process, preparation, and the lawyers’ level of experience with a case like yours. It’s important to select an attorney that will prepare your case for trial, as it sends a clear message to the insurance company that you are committed to receiving fair compensation for your claim rather than settling for a quick offer.
Questions to Help Evaluate What Your Car Accident Case is Worth
By going through the process of preparing your case for trial, your attorney will review several topics with you to help calculate the true value of your case. These questions often include, but are not limited to:
- How does your injury affect your life? Consider how your injury has or may impact your career, your responsibilities to your home and family, as well as the activities and hobbies that you enjoy.
- What are the medical outcomes associated with your injury? Will the injuries you sustained from your car crash resolve in a few weeks, or will you feel lasting effects of head, neck, back, brain or other injuries for years to come?
- What are the costs associated with your injury? Aside from the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, compensating for other property damage, and immediate medical attention, you may be eligible to collect for lost wages, short- or long-term disability, ongoing therapy and medical treatment, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
For more than 30 years, our attorneys have been working diligently to help people in the Milwaukee-area who have been hurt or injured in car accidents to thoroughly prepare their cases so they receive the favorable outcome and maximum compensation they deserve.
At Murphy & Prachthauser we practice personal injury law the way it should be practiced - motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people.
If you have a case that you would like to speak to a lawyer about, please contact us to get a free consultation and get an experienced team of lawyers working on your behalf.