The moments following an auto collision are often disorienting and frightening. By definition, accidents are unexpected, seemingly coming out of nowhere. As you assess yourself and your passengers for any injuries, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious about what the immediate and long-term future may hold. Car accidents can cause severe injuries that require extensive (and costly) medical interventions and lengthy recovery periods. Medical bills may start to pile up, and your injuries may prevent you from working, causing you to miss out on the wages you would have earned. However, it’s important to recognize that auto accident victims in Oregon and Washington have the right to pursue compensation to support the costs stemming from the accident and the resulting injuries. As you move through the claims process, here are a few strategies to help you maximize your settlement offer so you can obtain the support you need to get your life back on track.
Do: Gather Information at the Scene
Aside from seeking medical attention for severe injuries, the most critical step you can take immediately after an auto accident is to gather any evidence you can at the scene. Accidents involving property damage or physical injuries should be reported to law enforcement, and the responding officer will compile a police report that paints an objective picture of the factors contributing to the accident. This police report will likely prove useful when you start the claims process, as the details can support and validate your request for compensation. Additionally, make sure to gather the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, and insurance information from the other party involved in the accident. If there were any witnesses, take down their contact information as well. If possible, take photographs of the scene or your injuries, as this evidence can strengthen your auto accident claim.
Don’t: Admit Fault
While many car accidents involve a driver who is clearly at fault for causing the incident, it can be difficult to determine responsibility in some cases. Human nature may compel you to express your sympathy to other injured parties, but making statements that the insurance company could interpret as you taking the blame for the accident can jeopardize your claim. Even comments like “I’m sorry,” or “I’m so sorry that happened” can be used to undermine or weaken your claim. Instead, say as little as possible to the other parties at the scene. When you speak with insurance adjusters, refrain from admitting fault—even though they will try to coax you into taking some responsibility for the accident. Remember that an investigation will assess the factors of the accident and determine who is responsible for the incident.
Do: Seek Medical Treatment as Soon as Possible
Those who suffer severe injuries in a car accident should call for an ambulance. However, some auto accident victims sustain more minor injuries and may not think a visit to the doctor is warranted. Even if you do not believe your injuries are severe enough to be evaluated by a medical professional, you should still make an appointment as soon as possible. The physician can assess your injuries, document important details about the injuries, recommend treatment plans, and look for signs of any harder-to-detect issues, such as internal bleeding or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). What’s more, you’ll have written documentation from a medical professional to support your accident claim, showing that you took your injuries seriously and followed through on any recommended therapy or treatment plans. Those who review your claim will see the physical and financial impact of your injuries, making them more likely to offer you a fair and favorable settlement.
Don’t: Accept the Initial Settlement Offer
Most auto accident victims are eager to secure the compensation they need to pay off the costly medical bills, lost wages, and other unanticipated expenses stemming from their injuries. Unfortunately, insurance companies may try to use this desperation to their advantage by making an initial lowball settlement offer, hoping that the claimant will accept it just to obtain the funds as quickly as possible. However, accepting an initial offer can deny you the opportunity to receive the total amount of compensation you need to support your recovery. It’s important to recognize that you have the right to negotiate a more favorable settlement, and insurance companies are usually willing to engage in these negotiations to avoid costly litigation.
Do: Work With a Trusted and Compassionate Attorney
It’s no secret that auto accident injuries can complicate your life. However, you do not have to go through this challenging period alone. Enlisting the guidance of a knowledgeable and compassionate Portland and Vancouver personal injury attorney can give you the confidence and reassurance you need to pursue the compensation you deserve. Your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and advocate on your behalf to maximize your settlement offer.
If you need help pursuing compensation following an auto accident injury in Portland or Vancouver, call Henderson Taylor Law Firm at (360) 737-1478 to speak with a trusted and caring personal injury attorney.