Do I Need a Lawyer to Settle My Wichita Falls Car Wreck Case?
Deciding whether or not to hire a lawyer after your car wreck is a difficult decision many people face. Generally, when serious injuries and substantial damages are involved, it will be beneficial having the assistance of an experienced Wichita Falls car accident lawyer. But there are instances where you don’t need an attorney. Claims with only minor injuries and damages may be settled on your own without the need to involve a lawyer.
There are many factors to be aware of when trying to settle your case on your own, and you only have one shot at it, so you have to make it count. First and foremost, you have to keep in mind that the insurance company for the at-fault driver is not your friend, and neither are the adjusters handling the claim. The goal of the insurance company is to pay as little as possible, so they train their adjusters and equip them with tactics to delay, defend, or completely deny your claim. A free consultation will assist you decided what you need to do next and will help you ensure that you protect your right to recover adequate compensation for your damages.
If you aren’t sure of the next steps to take, here is how we can help you:
- Call us at 940-569-4000. Our car wreck attorney offers free, confidential case evaluations with no obligation to hire our firm. We will take a look at your claim and if we determine that you case can be handled without an attorney, we will tell you and provide you with helpful information tailored specifically for your unique circumstances.
- Download a free copy of our book, The Traveler’s Guide to the Universe of Personal Injury. You can download this free e-book right away and learn all about personal injury from the things not to do so you don’t wreck your own case and those specific tactics that the insurance companies use to determining what your case is worth.
- Continue reading for the necessary steps to take to settle a car accident claim. The information outlines in the rest of this article will provide you with a general idea on how to handle an accident claim on your own without an attorney. The information provided is not intended to be legal advice as each case is different with its own unique set of facts and circumstances. However, if you would like specific guidance for your unique situation, call us at 940-569-4000.
Steps to Settle a Car Accident Claim in Texas and Oklahoma
The basic steps to take to settle a car accident claim are as follows:
1. Seek medical treatment immediately
First, your health comes first about all else. And besides, you aren’t going to recover very much for your claim if you do not have medical documentation providing that you were injured.
For these reasons, it is very important that you seek medical treatment immediately. Do not delay going to the doctor, and do not downplay your injuries. All damages must be proven through hard evidence, and seeking medical treatment is the only way to have that hard evidence. Without taking care of and documenting your medical needs, your claim likely won’t be worth anything.
2. Identify the correct parties (insurance company) and file a claim
Secondly, you need to identify who the insurance company is for the person who caused the accident. You should be able to obtain this information from your copy of the police report. If you did not get a police report, you can obtain one by contacting the agency that investigated your wreck (police department, sheriffs department, highway patrol, etc.). Once you have correctly identified the insurance company, you need to notify them that you intend on filing an injury claim.
Additionally, you should check your own car insurance coverage. If you have personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay, your insurance provider might pay benefits to you under your policy regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Also, if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance, and you have uninsured/underinsurance motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, you may need to file a claim with your insurance provider.
If you don’t have PIP, MedPay, or UM/UIM, we strongly recommend you get them. Everyone should have these auto insurance policies. They are relatively cheap and provide you with a little extra protection out there on the road.
3. Collect evidence to prove liability and damages
In the case that the insurance company acknowledges that their insured was at fault and accepts liability, the only evidence you now need is the evidence to prove your losses and damages. However, in the case that the insurance company denies liability, you need evidence to prove the other driver was at fault and was the cause of the accident. This process can get a bit complicated and time-consuming, so you will likely need to contact an attorney if the insurance company denies fault.
The evidence you will need to prove your losses and damages include:
- Estimate to get your vehicle repaired
- Photographs of your vehicle
- Copies of your medical records
- Copies of your medical billing records
- Photographs of your injuries
- Proof of lost income
- Pay stubs
- Statement from your employer
- Tax returns
- Proof of expenses and payout for assistance with household chores and other duties you were unable to perform while you were recovering from your injuries
- Copies of any receipts, bills, and payments for any expenses incurred relating to the car accident, your injuries, your recovery. This could include things like:
- Travel expenses
- Medical equipment
Essentially, you need proof for every single financial loss you claim. The insurance carriers will not accept anything unless there is hard proof of the losses and damages.
Pro tip: Beware of any releases and/or authorizations that allow the insurance company to obtain any of your records. When you sign a medical authorization, you could potentially give the company access to your entire medical history. The best practice is for you to obtain copies of any and all records yourself and then forward the copies to the insurance company.
4. Prepare a settlement brochure for the insurance company
A settlement brochure begins with a letter detailing the circumstances surrounding the case as well as your injuries and losses. The letter includes the amount of money you are willing to settle for to resolve your claim. Additionally, the brochure includes copies of all of your evidence.
Determining the value of a car accident claim can be difficult. For cases that are simpler and do not include any disability or permanent impairment of any kind, you can add up all the bills and expenses related to the accident. This is the value of your economic damages.
You also have the right to ask to be compensated for noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering. This figure is more subjective than the hard numbers associated with the economic damages and therefore, more difficult to calculate. The practice many people use is to multiply their economic damages by either two or three and use that figure for their noneconomic damages.
If you are have no clue what your claim is worth, it may be a good idea to call a Wichita Falls car wreck lawyer for a free consultation.
5. Negotiate with the insurance company to settle your case
After you mail in your settlement brochure to the insurance company and they have had time to review it, they will contact you to discuss settlement. Remember, these adjusters are not your friends and they do not represent you. They represent the insurance company whose goal is to pay out as little as possible. For this reason, start high in your negotiation and ask for more money than you actually want for your claim in your settlement brochure. This gives you room to negotiate and come down off that high number to an amount you are still happy with.
It also helps to have a bottom-line value in mind as well before you begin your negotiations. If the company still refuses to get to that bottom figure, it is time to contact a Wichita Falls personal injury lawyer.
Pro tip: Do not provide any written or records statement other than your settlement brochure. Often times after an accident, adjusters will hound you for a recorded statement, but anything you say will be used against you and could potentially hurt your claim. Your settlement brochure should only include the basics such as the facts surrounding the accident and your recovery. It’s important to remember than anything you provide to the insurance company, including the settlement brochure, could potentially be used to either undervalue your claim or deny it altogether, so be careful.
What to Do If You Need Help
If you feel overwhelmed at any point throughout the claims process, call our car accident attorney in Wichita Falls at 940-569-4000. If you have decided to settle your case on your own, we want you to success, but we also want you to know that our legal team is ready to assist you at any point if you need help.
Insurance adjusters can be tricky and often they will try to convince you that hiring an attorney isn’t necessary and it’s just a waste of money, but there are cases where you will greatly benefit from the expertise an attorney offers. A few advantages that come along with hiring a car accident attorney include:
- An experienced team that will thoroughly investigate the incident, identify all parties involved, and gather evidence to proof both fault and liability as well as losses and damages.
- A skilled attorney who understands how these cases work and can prove liability even when the insurance company tries to deny any fault.
- A proven method to calculate and maximize the value of your claim so you can fully recovery and get adequately compensated for all of your damages.
- An advocate to handle the insurance companies and other professionals involved in the process so that burden is lifted off of you and you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
- A legal advocate who has the experience in both Texas and Oklahoma and who really understands personal injury laws
- Support and guidance from a team of legal professionals who deals with these claims on a daily basis
- Someone who will protect your rights and interests and will file a personal injury lawsuit if the situation calls for it.
Remember, there is a deadline for you to file claims and lawsuits in personal injury, so don’t wait!
Contact a Wichita Falls Car Accident Attorney for More Information
If you still have questions or concerns about personal injury and how to handle claims, download our free book, The Traveler’s Guide to the Universe of Personal Injury, which is packed with personal injury knowledge and tips.
If you try to handle your claim and end of having second thoughts about it, you can change your mind at any time and get an attorney. Many critical tasks need to be accomplished early on in the claims process such as investigating the accident, gathering evidence, and dealing with adjusters. Of course, sooner is better than later, but provided you have followed the tips in this article, your claim should still be in good shape.
Our Wichita Falls car accident law firm is here when you need it and we would be happy to help. Call us at 940-569-4000 or fill out our contact form to set up a free, confidential consultation. We represent clients all throughout Texas and Oklahoma.