What to Expect After a Car Accident
If someone else caused a car accident that injured you, you might feel blindsided and unsure about your next steps. When you’re already dealing with painful crash injuries and financial strain, the last thing you want to do is figure out complicated claims and legal processes. But if you need money to cover your crash expenses and get your life back on track, you might need to file a car accident injury claim.
For many people, the idea of filing an insurance claim or taking legal action is daunting, especially when they don’t know what to expect ahead of time.
The good news is that, with the correct information at your fingertips, you can find the confidence you need to feel prepared throughout the claims process. From the moment the accident occurs until the day you settle your injury claim, several key things will happen. Reach out to a Miami car accident lawyer.
In this blog post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about what to expect after a car accident. We’ll cover what to expect immediately after the crash, when to talk to the insurance companies, and when to file a claim. So, if you’re nervous about what the future holds, take a moment to relax your mind and read on.
What to Do and Not Do After the Accident
In the first moments after a car accident, you may feel shocked, disoriented, and overwhelmed. If the crash seriously hurt you, you might also experience debilitating pain and limited mobility. If that happens, stay put and wait for emergency services to arrive. If you sustain only minor injuries, the best thing to do at this stage is to pull your car over to a safe location on the side of the road, check yourself and others for injuries, and summon help as soon as possible.
Shortly after the accident, emergency service providers like paramedics, police officers, and firefighters may arrive at the scene. These emergency first responders will evaluate everyone’s injuries, provide first aid, gather information about the collision, and arrange transportation for crash victims with serious injuries. During this process, first responders might ask you to provide information about the accident, your contact details, and your insurance policy.
You should always be truthful, polite, and cooperative when speaking to the other driver, police officers, or other first responders at the accident scene. But remember, protect your rights and refuse to say anything that could later hurt your legal case.
For instance, you should never:
- Admit fault or apologize for the accident in any way
- Speculate about what might have caused the accident
- Join in arguments with other drivers or crash victims
- Discuss what you could have done to prevent the wreck
- Offer your opinions about who was at fault for the crash
When You Seek Medical Care For Your Injuries
Unless you received emergency care right after the crash, you should always seek medical attention as soon as possible following an accident, even if you don’t think you got seriously hurt. Many crash injury symptoms are not evident for hours or even days after the accident, so it’s essential to go to a medical professional who can provide the proper diagnostic tests, treatment recommendations, and documentation.
When you go to the doctor after an accident, you can expect your doctor to perform a thorough exam to evaluate any injuries you sustained in the wreck. Your doctor will likely ask you for details about your overall health history, how the accident occurred, and any symptoms you have noticed since the accident. Depending on what they find, your doctor could order an X-ray, CT scan, or another test to gather more data.
Always be honest and thorough when you talk to your doctor about your symptoms, even if it feels like you’re complaining about something minor. Giving accurate information to your doctor will ensure that your medical records contain a complete picture of your crash injuries, which will be important if you file an injury claim later. You should also record details about all your medical care and expenses, including copies of bills, receipts, and invoices from accident-related appointments or treatments.
While You’re Recovering From Your Injuries
Recovering from serious car accident injuries is often a lengthy and challenging process, but understanding what to expect as you recover can make the process smoother.
During your recovery, you might experience physical pain, discomfort, and other bodily symptoms that limit your ability to do certain things without help. You might also experience emotional symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia, due to post-traumatic stress and unexpected lifestyle interruptions.
As these symptoms ebb and flow, it’s important to communicate everything to your doctor and follow their treatment recommendations as closely as possible. It’s a good idea to start a pain journal where you can record data about your recovery. Information you might write down in a pain journal include daily pain levels, descriptions of physical limitations, and emotional ups and downs related to your crash injuries.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you might need to take time off from work while you recover. Lost income from missing time at work can add up quickly and have a significant impact on your finances. Remember that you could recover lost income through a car accident claim, so if you miss work after the accident, keep copies of any documentation that could serve as proof of your wage losses.
When You Talk to Your Insurance Company
As a Florida driver, you probably know that Florida follows a no-fault auto insurance system for car accidents. In the aftermath of a crash, your insurance company will be your primary source of coverage for any medical expenses you incur due to the accident, no matter who was at fault. You will only be able to file an injury claim against the other driver in certain circumstances, which we will explore further in the next section.
Knowing what to expect when talking to your insurance company after an accident is important because most insurance companies require you to report covered accidents within a specific time limit. Reporting the accident to your insurer will start the personal injury protection (PIP) claims process and inform your insurance company about its obligation to cover your losses.
Once you report the accident, you can expect the insurance company to assign an adjuster to your case, who will likely ask you for additional details or documentation from the crash. They might request a statement in your own words, a copy of the police report, statements from eyewitnesses, and other relevant information. The adjuster will use this information to understand what happened and whether the company is liable.
As you communicate with your insurance company, be mindful that any statements you make could hurt your case. Even though your insurer is responsible for providing coverage per your policy agreement, the adjuster will be looking for any opportunity to reduce how much they have to pay for your claim. With this in mind, avoid sharing unnecessary details, making guesses, or admitting fault.
When You Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you could have grounds for a third-party injury claim against their insurance policy.
However, Florida law only allows you to step outside of the usual no-fault auto insurance system and file a claim against another driver if you have a severe injury, meaning an injury that causes:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Likely permanent damage or disability other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
If your injury meets one of these thresholds and you have a claim against another driver, understanding what to expect from their insurance company is even more critical than when you have a first-party claim. The other driver’s provider has little incentive to go above and beyond for you, and it’s common to experience frustration and confusion for even the most straightforward third-party claims.
When you let the other driver’s insurance company know you intend to file a claim, they will likely gather information about the accident, including details about when, where, and how the wreck occurred. They might ask for documentation or evidence of your injuries or any other losses you claim, such as lost wages. They might also pressure you to provide a recorded statement, but doing so is never a good idea. Insurance companies often use these statements to lock claimants into unfavorable versions of events and then minimize or deny their claims.
After the other insurance company learns of your claim, the adjuster might conduct another investigation into the car accident. They might contact witnesses, interview responding police officers, and contact other relevant parties for additional details. After the insurance company decides it has all the information it needs, your attorney might need to negotiate for a fair settlement. This is when it pays to have a strong legal advocate who can communicate on your behalf.
When You File a Car Accident Insurance Claim
When you file an insurance claim after a Miami car accident, things will look different depending on the type of claim. After you file a PIP claim with your insurance provider, you can expect your insurance company to review the claim and determine how much money they owe you.
Your PIP insurance provider will usually pay up to 80 percent of your accident-related medical expenses and replace up to 60 percent of your wage losses, up to your policy limits.
If you and your insurance company agree on the amount of compensation you deserve for your claim, you can expect to move forward with the settlement process at this stage. If you and your insurance company disagree, your injury lawyer can take over to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
After you file a third-party liability insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance provider, things will look different. The other driver’s liability insurance policy could cover 100 percent of your medical bills and lost wages, which is excellent for you and bad for the insurance company.
As a result, you can usually expect the other driver’s insurance company to push back immediately. They might imply that your injuries are not as bad as you claim, try to pin the blame for the accident on you, or insist that a convenient policy loophole relieves them of responsibility.
In the likely event that you and the other driver’s insurance company do not agree on the amount of compensation you should receive for your claim, your attorney may need to participate in a lengthy negotiation process. In some cases, your lawyer might even have to take your case to trial and demand fair compensation from the other side in court.
When You Go to a Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
The main thing you can expect when getting help from a car accident lawyer is relief. While you’re still dealing with the aftermath of the crash, you can expect several things to happen as your attorney handles your case.
First and foremost, your lawyer will take the time to listen to your story and understand the specifics of your case. They will ask you to describe what happened during the accident, explain what kind of injuries you suffered, and discuss the medical care you have received. Reach out to a Miami personal injury lawyer.
Once your lawyer understands your case, you can expect them to handle all of the legal and insurance-related aspects of your injury claim. They will communicate with other parties, negotiate with the insurance companies, and prepare all the necessary legal paperwork. While your lawyer handles these tasks, you can enjoy peace of mind and focus on your recovery.
You can also expect your car accident lawyer to be your unwavering advocate throughout the claims process. Your attorney will stand by your side, work tirelessly to protect your rights, and argue aggressively to maximize your settlement. Whether dealing with the insurance company, mediating a settlement, or presenting your case in court, your lawyer will accompany you through every stage of your claim.