As a Wichita Falls personal injury lawyer, clients always ask us how they can get the best possible settlement for their car accident claim in Wichita Falls.
There are a multitude of factors that come into play when determining the value of a personal injury case in Wichita Falls. The larger personal injury settlements and verdicts typically only happen in accident and injury claims where the victims have experienced very serious injuries or even death. Of course, no one wishes to go through such a traumatic event.
With that being said, if you ever do find yourself in an accident, there are steps you can take to potentially increase the settlement value of your personal injury claim. When people are involved in an accident, doing some of these things is the last thing they are thinking about, but taking the proper steps to maximize your accident claim begins as soon as the accident happens. Being familiar with these steps will help you ensure you are not missing anything, even when you are shaken up from the accident. Below are 10 ways to maximize the value of your car accident claim in Wichita Falls:
(1) Call 911 to Report the Accident and Request an Ambulance If Needed
If you were injured in an accident, once you get out of your vehicle and get to safety, the first thing you should do is call 911 and request an ambulance. Additionally, you should request for police officers to come to the accident scene to investigate the accident and create a police report. Calling the police to the scene serves two purposes. First, it ensures the safety of all parties involved in the crash as well as others using the roadway since the police will take the proper safety precautions and procedures for redirecting traffic and blocking off the area while the wreck is being cleaned up. Secondly, the police will conduct an investigation and create a police report documenting exactly what happened as well as the information of all the parties that were involved and any witnesses who saw the accident happen. This report will be crucial to your Wichita Falls car accident claim because it will provide the hard evidence you need to prove the other person was at fault.
(2) Thoroughly Document the Accident Yourself
While the police report will be crucial in handling your personal injury claim, you should not rely entirely on this document because unfortunately, some police reports are not completely filled out and have incomplete or inaccurate information. Because of this discrepancy, you should collect the information of everyone involved in the accident, including their name, contact information, insurance information, license plate number, and vehicle make, model, and color.
Additionally, you should collect the name and contact information of any witnesses and collect a statement from them explaining what they saw happen.
Another extremely important aspect of this step is to take pictures and/or videos of both the vehicles, the accident scene, and of your injuries. Pictures and videos will play a big role in proving your claim.
(3) Seek Medical Treatment ASAP
Getting prompt and adequate medical treatment is important not only for your recovery, but also for your legal case. If you treat your injuries properly, the records from your medical providers will accurately reflect and describe your injuries, which will help link your injuries to the accident. Having this documentation will be important in valuing your case.
However, if you delay getting medical treatment, the other person’s insurance company is most likely going to argue that you are not injured very badly or take the stance that there is no proof of the accident causing those injuries. They will use the fact that you did not seek prompt and proper medical treatment to devalue your claim. Keep in mind, the insurance company for the at-fault driver is not your friend. The insurance company’s goal is to pay as little as possible on your claim.
In the majority of accidents, it is best practice to go straight to the emergency room rather than waiting for your primary doctor to be available. After all, many of the injuries people sustain in an accident don’t show their symptoms until hours later once the adrenaline of being in an accident has worn off. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you are not hospitalized for very serious injuries, once you are released from the emergency room, you should follow up with your primary care doctor.
(4) Continue Regularly with Treatment Until You’ve Completely Recovered
When you go to the emergency room and to your primary care doctor, it’s important that you identify all symptoms you are experiencing and once you have a recovery plan, it’s important that you follow that recovery plan and continue treatment until you reach what the doctor calls maximum medical improvement (MMI). Follow your doctor’s instructions and make sure every symptom is being treated until you recover as much as you can. This step is just as important as getting treatment quickly.
Often times, doctors will prioritize one symptom above another, treating the worst condition first. Be aware and cautious of this as it can result in your medical records and treatment reflecting incomplete and/or inaccurate information, which the insurance company could use to devalue your claim. For instance, they may refuse to pay for an injury that isn’t documented in your medical records, even though it was an injury you sustained from the accident.
It's critical that you insist that each symptom is being diagnosed and treated as soon as possible after your car accident or other personal injury accident. Speak with your doctor and make them aware of every type of pain you are experiencing in every area of your body. Furthermore, just because you mentioned a symptom one time doesn’t mean you don’t need to ever bring it up again. You need to mention every symptom you are experiencing in every single visit. If you fail to do this, you risk lowering the value of your personal injury case.
(5) Don’t Use Pain Pills as Your Only Treatment Method
First and foremost, given the health and addiction issues associated with pain pills, it is important to not rely only on these as the only treatment for your injuries. Aside from the obvious health risks and side effects, using pain pills as your only method of treatment is not good for your personal injury claim.
Insurance companies and juries (if your case goes to trial) have a tendency to devalue your case when they find out you were only treating with pain medication, assuming your injuries were not really that bad. The better, more effective approach is to seek treatment through physical therapy, injections, and surgery. Of course, you should only get these treatments if they are necessary and if your doctor recommends them.
(6) Get Back to Work ASAP
Sustaining injuries from accidents can have an impact not only on your health, but also on your job and income. Of course, do not force yourself to show up to work if you are truly unable to. Seeking recovery for lost wages is certainly something you can do. If you cannot work due to your injuries, it is important that you have your medical provider document your work restrictions and how your injuries affect your ability to perform your job duties. Additionally, you should document all the days you missed and the lost wages that resulted from those missed days. However, there are a few reasons you should get back to work as soon as possible.
First, there is a legal duty for you to mitigate your damages. What this means is that you are not legally entitled to recover wages after your accident if you are able to work in some capacity.
Second, you need income and insurance benefits to cover your medical bills. Any lost wage compensation that resulted from the accident will not be paid as you incur them and instead at the resolution of your claim, which often takes a long time. The insurance company most likely will only pay for your lost wages once the case is settled, which could mean a long time. Many personal injury cases do not settle until you are done treating.
Third, juries tend to favor those who try to continue to work. As stated above, if you cannot work, have it thoroughly documented by your medical provider. Documentation from a medical doctor stating that you cannot work and explaining how your injuries affect your job performance will do well with a jury.
(7) Avoid Using Social Media
When you’ve been involved in an accident and you have a pending personal injury claim, you should assume the insurance companies and their attorneys have access to all your social media profiles. These insurance adjusters will even send friend requests to family members or close friends in order to get access to the things you post. And if a lawsuit must be filed, they will for sure get access to this information, even if your accounts are set to private. While a post may seem innocent, insurance companies and their lawyers will find a way to use it against you.
On the flipside of this, while you do not want to put a bunch of information out there, you should stay in touch with families and friends who can be a witness for your case in regard to your pain and disability. If your case does end up going to trial, your family and friends could be crucial witnesses who explain how your life has changed since the accident.
(8) Use Caution When Talking with the At-Fault Insurance Company
Do NOT ever give any signed authorizations or recorded statements to the insurance company! The insurance company’s goal is to develop a case against you to pay as little as possible and they have different tactics and tricks they use to accomplish this. You cannot be aware of all these tactics, but they will use them to try to get you to make admissions that will hurt your case. In fact, it’s not really necessary to speak with the insurance company unless you decide to try to settle your case on your own. We advise consultation with an experience Wichita Falls car accident lawyer first.
(9) Be Upfront and Honest with Your Lawyer
Your lawyer will only be able to help you if you share all information about your case. Hiding information will only hurt you. However, if the lawyer is aware of that information, they can then deal with it however they need to.
A lawyer cannot properly prepare a case without all the information and records. Therefore, it is extremely important that you provide all this to your lawyer.
(10) Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
There are a number of benefits that come along with hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer and given all the factors described above, it’s best to do this as soon as possible. Many personal injury cases settle before trial, but the biggest factor in obtaining the highest settlement is having a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of personal injury and can properly prepare you for trial if necessary.
The process for personal injury cases can be long, drawn out, and complex. Insurance companies will sometimes only offer low-end settlements until a lawsuit is threatened.
Personal injury lawyers perform many important tasks, including many of the ones listed above. Additionally, they’ll collect and preserve evidence, interview witnesses, deal with the insurance companies, and provide professional guidance while you complete your medical treatment. When you hire an experienced Wichita Falls personal injury lawyer and follow the steps listed above, you maximize your chances of securing the biggest amount of compensation for your accident claim, whether it was a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, slip and fall, defective product, alcohol-related accident, or any other type of accident. We’ve been in this business for almost 30 years because we get results.
Contact our Wichita Falls Personal Injury Lawyer
If you still have questions about personal injury claims, you can download our free book, The Traveler’s Guide to the Universe of Personal Injury. This book provides useful information all about personal injury.
If you would like to speak with a Wichita Falls personal injury lawyer to get a free evaluation of your case, you can call us at 940-569-4000 or fill out our contact form to set up a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. We’re always hear to listen to your concerns and offer some guidance.