A Step-by-Step Guide for Getting The Most When you Suffer an Injury in an Auto Accident.
If you suffered an injury in a recent automobile accident, then securing an adequate financial award is a long and complicated process.
The web is full of personal injury calculators that claim to predict your financial settlement. The truth is, there isn’t any mathematical formula to calculate the exact amount of damages. An experienced lawyer understands there are dozens of emotional and qualitative factors that influence your compensation.
Due to statute of limitations laws in Georgia, car accident cases can only be initiated within a certain period of time. From the date of the accident, Georgia residents are given:
- Two years for personal injury claims
- Four years for property damage claims
If you are experiencing pain from an accident that occurred outside of these parameters, then it is unlikely a court will hear your case.
At the Scene of the Accident
Before you file an insurance claim or speak with a lawyer, the most important thing you can do is document as much information as possible.
Take pictures. Almost everyone today has a cellphone with a camera – take out your phone and start taking pictures immediately. Collect as much photographic evidence as possible like skid marks, street signs, and vehicle damages of all parties.
Request as much documentation as possible. When police arrive at an accident, they take thorough note of all observable facts at the scene. Request a copy of this documentation as soon as possible. This packet will contain eyewitness testimony and a reliable third-party account of the accident, which will later help determine damages.
Search for other explanatory variables. In some cases, there is more than one reason an accident occurred. Maybe there was a faulty traffic sign. Maybe a local bar improperly served a drunk driver that caused the crash. In any case, it is best to spread your financial recovery options as wide as possible.
Seek Medical Assistance
While maximizing your financial award is certainly a priority, your health and safety are clearly more critical. Immediately find your way to the nearest hospital so that the seriousness of your injuries can be examined by a medical professional.
The medical bills you receive are an integral part of the settlement process. These quantifiable numbers are the largest determinant in how much money you can and will be paid. Surgeries, ambulance costs, and other expenses will influence a large part of the damages you are awarded.
Keep track of all medical expenses and records. Hospital documents keep track of two important factors: specific injuries and the costs associated with treating them. Make sure that you always have copies of this information so that it can later be shared with your insurance provider and a lawyer.
Long term pain documentation. Even after you leave the hospital, there is still much work that needs to be done. Keep a detailed log of your injuries and any time you experience pain. These records will show a jury or arbitrator the extended effects of your injuries and just how serious the accident has impacted your life.
Contacting a Lawyer
Once you’ve sought immediate medical attention, it’s time to find an attorney that can give you the representation you deserve. Navigating through the legal process is no easy task, so you need to find a lawyer that’s just as committed to your wellbeing as you are.
Helping you estimate your settlement. Aside from medical costs, you could also be awarded damages based on lost wages (such as unpaid medical leave or reduced work performance as a result of your injuries). Furthermore, juries also look at your individual pain and suffering.
- Did you undergo immense psychological or emotional distress as a result of your accident? Proving that your life substantially changed after an auto accident is difficult, but this is where you can truly maximize your award. Work with your lawyer to show a “before and after” effect from the car accident.
Examining the extent of your policy. Georgia’s automobile insurance laws mandate that the at-fault driver pay for damages, whether through their insurance policy or personal compensation. Your damages are greatly affected by uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) and other policy-specific characteristics that detail your insurance coverage.
Demand letters. An experienced personal injury or accident attorney understands that writing a convincing demand letter is an integral part of maximizing your award. This document is written by your lawyer to the insurance company explaining how much money you are requesting in damages and why. The insurance company will counter with several offers until an equitable solution is reached.
Getting a financial award after an automobile accident is a process that no one enjoys, but one that can truly alleviate the hardships you have faced.