In the aftermath of an auto accident, you may face extensive medical costs, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and other unexpected expenses. If someone else’s negligence resulted in your damages, you can claim compensation for your damages, pain and suffering through a car accident claim. However, many factors can affect a car accident settlement. Additionally, your actions after an accident can affect how much you recover. Below, the Los Angeles auto accident lawyers in our law firm discuss how to get the most from an auto accident settlement.
How to Get the Most From an Auto Accident Settlement
Several factors can influence the amount of compensation you may be able to recover in a car accident settlement. A few factors that can affect settlement amounts include, but are not limited to:
The Type and Severity of Your Injuries
Generally, the more severe your injuries, the higher the potential compensation. More serious traumatic injuries often lead to more extensive medical treatment, longer recovery, and higher medical bills. In severe cases, injuries can result in permanent disability, affecting how you live and the care you need for the rest of your life. These cases generally result in a significant car accident settlement.
The Extent of Your Financial Losses
In addition to medical expenses, other financial losses incurred by the accident will affect the value of your claim. For example, common financial losses in a car accident generally include:
- Past and future medical costs
- Lost wages after an accident
- Loss of future earning potential
- Vehicle damages
- Other property damages
These losses may contribute to a higher settlement amount.
Your Non-Monetary Losses
Car accidents can be traumatic experiences. In addition to financial losses, it is common for accident victims to suffer from non-monetary losses. For example, victims may suffer from a wide range of pain and suffering damages. Examples of pain and suffering damages in personal injury claims include, but are not limited to the following:
- Emotional distress
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Evidence for Your Personal Injury Claim
Strong evidence that supports your claim can significantly affect your settlement amount. Examples of evidence may include:
- Police report
- Car accident witness testimonies
- Medical records
- Photographs of the accident scene
The less evidence you have, the more difficult it is to recover compensation for your injuries.
Your Degree of Accident Fault
If you are partially responsible for the accident, it will affect how much you will be able to recover for your damages. California is a pure comparative negligence state. Under comparative negligence, you can still recover damages even if you are partially at fault. However, the compensation you can recover will be reduced according to your percentage of fault.
Available Insurance Policy Limits
In most cases, you will file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company to pursue compensation. However, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits can impact your settlement. If their policy limit is insufficient to cover your losses, it may be more difficult to obtain the compensation you need.
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However, you may have options for exploring other avenues for compensation. For example, if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company.
Ways to Maximize Your Settlement After an Accident
There are many ways you can increase your chances of maximizing your settlement amount. Our tips for increasing your auto accident settlement amount include the following:
Take Photos to Preserve Evidence at the Accident Scene
Before you leave the accident scene, if you are able, document the accident with photos. Photos provide critical visual evidence of your injuries and damage to your vehicle. This evidence can be instrumental in supporting your claim.
We recommend taking photos of the following things:
- Your visible injuries
- Interior and exterior damages to your vehicle
- Damage to the other vehicle
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
You should also write down important details about the accident that you may forget over time. For example, write down what happened leading up to the accident, during, and after the accident. What did the police, other drivers, or accident witnesses say to you at the scene?
Get Medical Care Immediately After an Accident
One of the most important ways to protect your health and car accident claim is to seek immediate medical attention after an accident. Even if you believe you did not suffer injuries, you want to ensure you do not have dormant injuries that may worsen if left untreated.
Seeking prompt medical care can ensure you start medical treatment for any injuries right away. It also acts as critical evidence and documentation of your injuries due to the crash.
Delaying a medical evaluation can give the insurer a reason to reduce your claim value or outright deny your claim. If you wait, the insurance company may try to minimize the severity of your injuries or blame your injuries on an event other than the auto accident.
Choose the Right Doctor for Your Claim
The doctor treating your injuries plays a significant role in your case. You should tell your medical provider you were injured in an auto accident. If your doctor is experienced in handling these cases, they will understand the importance of detailed medical records for your claim and will provide the right medical tests after your car accident.
Some medical providers do not want to treat car accident victims because they do not want to get involved in potential litigation. Some physicians may be overly conservative in their treatment recommendations or not well-versed in the documentation necessary for a successful auto accident claim. Select a provider familiar with auto accident cases that will provide thorough documentation of your injuries and treatment.
You should communicate with your doctor about any pain, discomfort, or symptoms you experience, no matter how minor they may seem. You want to ensure that your doctor records all of the symptoms you experience. These records provide a detailed account of your physical suffering and can substantially impact your claim.
Attend All of Your Medical Appointments and Follow Treatment Advice
You should not miss any of your doctor’s appointments. Missing appointments can hurt your personal injury case. It may imply your injuries are not severe or you are not dedicated to recovery. Making all of your appointments validates the severity of your injuries.
In addition to attending your medical appointments, you should continue to follow your healthcare provider’s medical advice. Doing so not only aids your recovery but also provides evidence of the severity of your injuries, treatments, and recovery timeline. You should continue to seek medical treatment until you are completely rehabilitated.
Having a consistent medical record documenting the extent of your injuries and the treatment process strengthens your claim. Not following your doctor’s advice can adversely affect your case, as it may suggest you contributed to your ongoing health issues.
You should also consider keeping a journal about your injuries and their impact on your daily life. Documenting your experience can supplement your medical records and be powerful evidence for your claim.
Get the Police Report of Your Accident
If police officers came to the scene of your accident, then they put together an accident report. This report serves as a detailed and objective account of the accident. It should contain information about all involved parties, witnesses, and issued citations. It may also include the police officer’s investigation into how the accident occurred. You should get a copy of the police report. It can be valuable in supporting your car accident claim.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Help With Your Claim
We recommend working with an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you with your insurance claim. From the beginning of your case, your car accident attorney can conduct an investigation of the accident and gather and preserve critical evidence. Additionally, your attorney can assess the total value of your claim and prepare and file it.
Dealing with an insurance company becomes less daunting with a personal injury lawyer who can handle all communication and negotiation on your behalf. If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, your attorney can fight for you in court. You can focus on recovery while your car accident lawyer works toward obtaining maximum compensation for your damages.
What Should You Avoid to Maximize a Car Accident Settlement?
When it comes to negotiation, it is not just about what you should do but also what you should avoid.
- Avoid discussing the accident: When discussing the accident, especially with insurance adjusters, be cautious about what you say. You should stick to the facts and avoid making a detailed statement without a car accident lawyer. Insurance companies can use your words against you in negotiations. We recommend having a personal injury attorney on your side to handle these communications on your behalf.
- Avoid social media: You should also avoid posting anything about the accident on social media or making any public statements. Anything you post or say publicly can be used against you to reduce the value of your personal injury claim.
- Avoid a quick settlement: It is common for insurance companies to offer low settlement offers quickly after an accident. While accepting a quick payment might seem appealing, especially when facing mounting bills, you should avoid it. The initial offer from an insurance adjuster is typically lower than the claim’s worth. It will likely not cover your total costs, and you may get stuck paying out-of-pocket. Additionally, you cannot go back and ask for more money after you sign a settlement agreement. Understanding the full extent of your injuries and incurred accident costs is essential before settling.
What if I Am Partially at Fault for the Auto Accident?
If your actions contributed to the car accident, you might wonder if you can still obtain compensation for your injuries. Even if you share some responsibility for the accident, you may still be entitled to financial compensation for your damages under California’s pure comparative negligence law.
Under California’s pure comparative negligence law, being partially at fault does not bar you from recovering compensation. In fact, you can be up to 99 percent at fault and still be eligible to recover compensation. However, the amount you can recover would be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 30 percent at fault for the crash, and your total damages amount to $100,000, you can still recover $70,000.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Los Angeles Auto Accident Lawyers
Maximizing your car accident settlement involves careful strategy, thorough documentation, and skillful negotiation. Have you or a loved one suffered a serious injury in an auto accident? If so, we recommend discussing your unique situation and starting an attorney-client relationship with our Los Angeles auto accident lawyers. You may have a viable auto accident claim to recover compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other damages.
At the Law Offices of Steers & Associates, we represent accident victims in personal injury claims throughout Los Angeles and Southern California. If you look at our case result history, our attorneys have helped our clients recover the compensation they need after serious accidents.
During a free car accident case review at our law firm, we can answer your questions and discuss your legal options for moving forward. We can also determine how we may be able to help you with your case. Call us at (800) 824-5416 or contact us online.
Allen Vaysberg practices personal injury law and works tirelessly to defeat the tactics of insurance companies and large corporations who try to deny justice and fair compensation to injured people.