car accident

How to Put Together a Car Accident Claim

If you’ve been involved in a car accident that’s left you injured, you need to act quickly to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Otherwise, you could end up on the outside looking in without any ability to pay for your mounting bills.

While different states have different rules, every personal injury case is subject to statutes of limitation. This basically means you can’t wait indefinitely – you have to file a claim fairly soon after the situation occurs. In Tennessee, for example, you only have one year to pursue a claim (which is not a lot of time to put a case together).

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you put together a comprehensive claim, detailing everything from collecting initial evidence to documenting your injuries and expenses.

Step 1: Gather Evidence at the Scene

Immediately after the accident, your first priority – after ensuring your safety and the safety of others – is to gather as much evidence as possible. Use your smartphone to take photos of the accident scene from various angles, capturing the positions of vehicles, any visible damage, road conditions, traffic signs, and weather conditions.

If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information and if they would be willing to provide statements later. Their accounts can be the most powerful part of your claim. And finally, before you leave the scene, ensure you have a copy of the police report or at least the report number.

Step 2: Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Even if you don’t feel hurt, it’s essential to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries, like whiplash or internal bleeding, may not present symptoms immediately. A thorough medical evaluation documents these injuries, linking them directly to the accident, which is a crucial element of your claim.

On that note, keep a detailed record of all medical visits, treatments, diagnoses, and prescriptions. If specialized treatment, physical therapy, or long-term care is required, these records will be very important in proving the extent and cost of your injuries.

Step 3: Compile Documentation of All Related Expenses

Your claim should include every expense related to the accident. Alongside medical bills, gather documentation for any out-of-pocket expenses such as medications, medical devices, or costs related to hospital visits (like parking and travel). If you had to make modifications to your home due to your injuries, include those receipts as well.

Document any lost wages by asking your employer to provide a letter detailing your normal pay rate, hours lost, and any sick or vacation days you had to use due to your injuries. The more detailed you are, the better.

Step 4: Maintain a Personal Injury Diary

Most people skip this step, but it’s an important one. You need to keep a diary that records your physical and emotional recovery process. Note your daily pain levels, any emotional distress, and how the injuries impact your daily life and ability to work. This personal account can help substantiate the non-economic damages you claim, like pain and suffering.

Step 5: Avoid Early Settlement Offers

Insurance companies often try to settle claims quickly to minimize payouts. Avoid accepting early offers, especially before you fully understand the extent of your injuries and other losses. Once you accept a settlement, you waive your right to any further claims related to the accident.

Step 6: Consult with a Car Accident Attorney

Consider consulting with a car accident attorney who can provide professional advice and handle negotiations with insurance companies. A skilled attorney can help ensure that your claim is fully prepared, well-supported, and that you receive the maximum compensation possible.

Step 7: Submit Your Claim

Once all evidence is gathered, and you have a clear understanding of your total losses and expenses, submit your claim to the insurance company. Include a detailed letter outlining the accident, your injuries, and a breakdown of all expenses and losses incurred. Attach all supporting documents and records to back up your claim.

Step 8: Prepare for Possible Negotiations

Be prepared to negotiate with the insurance company. They may contest certain aspects of your claim or offer a settlement lower than what you expect. Having detailed documentation and a legal representative can strengthen your position in these negotiations.

Adding it All Up

A serious car accident is nothing to take lightly. It’s important that you act quickly to get the compensation you deserve (and need) in order to move on with your life. Let this article serve as a guide, but don’t forget to hire an attorney. Your lawyer will walk you through each of these steps.

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