We all hope we never have to go through the experience of suffering a car accident. Sometimes, though, it can’t be helped.
If you are in a car accident, what can you expect to happen after the accident? There will be a lot to get through, from the initial hospital visit to the process of chatting with a lawyer to getting the settlement you need to help you pay your bills and recover as quickly as possible. Reach out to a car accident lawyer.
If you were recently in a car accident and want to know what you can expect, you’re not alone. It can be incredibly comforting to know what’s going to happen next when you’re dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic experience. Let’s consider what usually happens after a car accident so you can know what to expect.
Car Accident Statistics
In busy areas like Redding, Chico, and Eureka, between 300 and 400 car accidents occur yearly, resulting in injuries or fatalities for the drivers and passengers involved. Around the United States, approximately 40,000 people die annually in motor vehicle accidents. It’s safe to say that if you’ve been in an accident in recent weeks, you’re not alone.
If someone caused the accident and led to injury or loss of property for you and your family, you deserve compensation from those responsible. Medical bills can be incredibly expensive—up to $200,000 plus for a vehicle occupant in a typical car accident. If you’re struggling to pay your bills and recover your strength after an accident, you can and should get help. The proper legal support will allow you to gather compensation to help you pay your bills and resume your normal life as soon as possible.
What You Want to Do After a Car Accident
Very few people expect to be in a car accident. If you have been in one, you probably don’t know what to do next! You may feel that it’s too late to gather the evidence you need to prove that your accident wasn’t your fault—but that’s not true! With help from a car accident lawyer, you can still get the evidence you need. However, you should speak with a lawyer soon so you don’t miss any crucial deadlines in getting started.
Here are the main steps you’ll want to take following a car accident.
- Seek medical attention. You’ve likely already been to the emergency room, but you mustn’t stop seeking help for any ongoing injuries or struggles you may be facing. Getting the medical attention you need is essential not only for your future health but also to ensure that you receive compensation for every expense that resulted from the accident.
- Speak with a lawyer. You need to call a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you collect evidence, such as the police report from your accident, any video footage or photos taken at the accident scene, and even things like your medical bills and records. A lawyer can then help you build a solid claim to file against the at-fault party in your accident.
- Keep any records. As you receive medical attention and work to restore or replace your car and any other damaged property, hold onto all the bills, receipts, and records you receive. Your lawyer will use any paperwork you have to help you build a strong claim.
- Don’t “share” too much detail. You don’t want to post anything about your accident on social media or chat with family and friends about it any more than necessary. It’s crucial that you don’t accidentally say something that could indicate that you were at fault because another lawyer or insurance company could use that against you and try to prove the accident was your fault. If they can do that, you won’t receive the compensation you deserve.
These steps will help ensure that you get off to a strong start in pursuing the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party in the accident. Don’t worry if you missed one or two records or feel you’ve forgotten any important information—your lawyer will help you collect what you need to ensure your claim is a success.
What You Can Expect in a Legal Battle After a Car Accident
The process of going through a legal battle is a long and somewhat complicated one. You’ll want to start working with a lawyer as soon as possible so you can file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out—which, in most states (including California), is two years. Here are the steps you can expect to go through after an accident.
1. Connect With a Lawyer
First, you’ll want to call a car accident lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your car accident and why you think you have a legitimate claim against the at-fault driver (that is, the defendant).
Most lawyers offer a free consultation on the phone to help you determine right away if you have a legitimate case with a good chance of winning in a legal battle.
After calling the lawyer and getting an initial assessment, you’ll likely set up a time to meet with the lawyer in person to go over the details more thoroughly and—if you and the lawyer both want to work together—to sign the paperwork and retain the lawyer’s services.
2. Start Gathering Evidence
Once you meet with your lawyer, they will immediately start collecting all the evidence necessary to build your claim. They’ll find medical records, medical bills, the police report filed at your accident, any available photographic evidence or video footage, and statements from witnesses of the accident.
Next, they’ll get a journal of some kind from you detailing the suffering you’ve endured because of your accident and seek testimony from your family and friends that supports your statements. In addition, they will find a medical expert who can testify to how serious your injuries are and how they will likely affect you and your family in the future.
3. File a Complaint
Your lawyer will use all the evidence they collect to file a complaint against the defendant. They will send the complaint to the defendant, the defendant’s insurance company, and, if applicable, the defendant’s lawyer. The complaint will contain all the details of your accident and the injuries and suffering that you are dealing with because of the accident.
4. Receive a Response
After receiving the complaint, the defendant will need to file a response.
This will do one of two things:
- The response will reject your claim and provide some kind of evidence that contradicts your complaint, or
- The response will acknowledge the defendant’s fault and make a settlement offer to begin negotiations.
5. Continue Collecting Evidence
After you send the complaint and receive that initial response, your lawyer will continue collecting any relevant evidence. They will obtain interrogatories (written questionnaires that each party involved in the accident must fill out), depositions (verbal, recorded statements taken by questioning), and any other relevant paperwork that may come up. Your lawyer will use this evidence to strengthen your claim in case it goes to court.
6. Negotiate for a Settlement
Once the defendant has sent you an initial settlement offer that they believe covers the cost of all the injuries you’ve suffered, you can decide to either accept it or negotiate for a higher settlement offer. In most cases, the insurance company managing the settlement offer will start with a lowball offer that they hope you’ll accept just to get money in your pocket.
It’s vital that you speak with a lawyer about your settlement offer so that they can advise you on whether or not to accept it. Generally, you will be able to negotiate for a higher settlement. This negotiation process could continue for weeks or even months before the defendant finally offers you a settlement that covers the compensation you truly deserve.
7. Go to Court
If you and the defendant can’t settle on a settlement offer that satisfies both parties, you will have to take your case to court. This is another area where a lawyer is absolutely crucial to your case. The right lawyer will collect all the evidence gathered so far and build a strong case that clearly proves the defendant’s fault and outlines clearly how much you have suffered because of your accident.
Your lawyer will take this case before the judge and jury assigned to your case and ask for the judge and jury to decide in your favor and award you the settlement amount you need to cover the economic and non-economic damages you have endured.
8. Take Home Your Compensation Check
After the judge and jury hand down a verdict, or your attorney has negotiated a settlement, it’s time for you to take the check you have been awarded. Your lawyer will help you distribute the funds to pay any outstanding debts. Your personal injury lawyer will also take a percentage of your settlement as payment for their services (that way, you don’t have to pay them anything out of pocket or before they win your case). Finally, your lawyer will give you the rest of the check to use as you see fit.
How Much Compensation You Can Expect after a Car Accident
The amount of compensation you can expect after a car accident will vary considerably depending on the circumstances of your accident. Most car accident cases will end up getting you hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation, but some cases have even ended in settlements of millions of dollars for deserving victims.
The amount of compensation you receive is based on the total damages you have suffered. Damages include both economic and non-economic losses.
In general, you can expect to receive compensation for damages such as:
- Medical expenses (including emergency room visits, surgeries or procedures, ongoing therapy, medication prescription costs, and the expense of purchasing any medical equipment such as a wheelchair).
- Property damage expenses used to repair or replace your car and other property (such as a cell phone) damaged in the crash.
- Loss of income from time taken off work to recover after your accident.
- Loss of earning capacity if you are unable to return to the same job or work in the same capacity as you could before your accident.
- Pain and suffering in general.
- Scarring, disfigurement, and humiliation.
- Emotional distress or trauma, including conditions like PTSD.
- Loss of life enjoyment due to loss of ability to perform or enjoy certain activities.
- Loss of consortium with your loved ones, especially a spouse or partner.
You may recover some or all of these damages and may even be able to claim other types of damages as well. Each type of damage contributes to the overall amount of monetary compensation you can expect from the defendant if you win your claim against them.
However, it’s important to speak to a lawyer to make sure you’re getting compensation for all the damages you deserve and not missing any loss that could be relevant.
Why You Need a Lawyer
As you can see, what you can expect after a car accident is fairly straightforward. It’s nothing to be afraid of, especially if you have a lawyer by your side to help support you along the way. If you’re dealing with the fallout from a bad accident, be sure you call a lawyer as soon as you can!
A lawyer will help you with all kinds of things, including:
- Gathering evidence
- Negotiating with hard-to-fight insurance companies
- Helping you determine the amount of compensation you deserve
- Helping you stick to your guns and pursue the compensation you deserve
- Finding you medical support, transportation support, and other help you may need during your recovery
- Ensuring you don’t miss any deadlines in filing your claim
After a car accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lawyer with any questions and get a free consultation to get started on your claim. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.