How to Get the Most Money from a Car Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be wondering what kind of compensation you’re entitled to, and more importantly, the amount you’ll be awarded. Much of the time, car insurance companies will try to lowball injured accident victims with low settlement offers.
Don’t let the insurance company of the driver who injured you off the hook. Find out how to get the most money from a car accident with these helpful tips from Patterson Legal Group.
What to Do If You’re in a Car Accident
If you’ve just been in an accident, you may be scared, overwhelmed, and possibly injured. The most important thing to do immediately after an accident is ensure the safety of yourself and any other occupants. Then, stay at the accident scene and move your vehicle only if it is blocking traffic or presents a road hazard to other drivers.
Should You Always Call the Police After a Car Accident?
If you or anyone else appears to have been injured or requests help following a car accident, you should immediately call 911 for medical assistance. The rush of adrenaline after an accident can mask symptoms of pain and injury. That is why it may be wise to allow yourself to be evaluated by a paramedic or EMT at the scene even if you aren’t currently experiencing any pain.
If no one requires immediate medical attention, it is still strongly advisable to contact the police after a car accident. In Kansas, motorists are required to file a police report if there is at least $1,000 in property damage, someone is hurt or killed in the accident, or if any passengers or drivers leave the scene or cannot otherwise be identified or contacted.
Missouri state law only requires the police to be called when a car accident results in at least $500 of property damage or if there is injury or death to a passenger. You should consult your car insurance company, who may have their own requirements on reporting car accidents to law enforcement.
Sometimes the other driver may admit fault at the scene, but after speaking with others, he or she may deny fault. Police officers and the police report help to prove fault.
When police officers arrive, be sure to take note of the responding officers’ badge numbers and request a copy of the filed accident report for your own records. Having all this information at your disposal will help maximize your car accident injury settlement. Many times, the police will give you information at the scene about the other driver. You can use this information to contact insurance companies. If you forget to give crucial information in your police statement, you may be able to call the police department to formally amend it.
If you do contact the other driver’s insurance company prior to contacting an attorney, they may ask you to give a statement. Be wary of admitting any kind of fault to the accident in your statement. At times, the insurance company may blame you for part of the collision.
What Questions Should You Ask Accident Witnesses?
If there are people who witnessed your car accident, ask them for their contact information. Keep in mind that accident witnesses are not generally required to remain at the scene, so you cannot force someone to act as a witness.
However, if a witness is willing to answer your questions, they may be able to help strengthen your case and increase your car accident injury settlement amount. Here are some important questions you might ask potential witnesses:
- Where were you when you saw or heard the crash occur?
- In your own words, what is your understanding of what happened in the crash?
- Did you notice how fast each car was traveling?
- Did anyone slam on their brakes or swerve?
- How far away from the accident were you situated?
- Were there any other witnesses with you at the time of the accident?
Do Insurance Companies Need Photos of Car Accidents?
Some insurance companies may require that you take photos at the scene of your car accident whenever possible. Take ample photographs of the damage to your vehicle and any visible injuries you or your passengers may have. If possible, take photos of the accident before moving your vehicle to preserve evidence.
In the case of violent collisions, responding police officers may also take photographs of your car accident. These photos may also be used as documentation or proof in your accident claim. They should be included in the police officer’s accident report, which should also be sent to your insurance company.
What to Do After a Car Accident
After everyone is out of immediate danger, you’ve documented the accident, and a police report has been filed, you should remain proactive. Ensure that your car insurance company has all the necessary details of your accident case and be sure to get an estimate on the damage your vehicle sustained.
You should also keep track of any expenses you incur, including rental car fees, lost wages due to missed work, and any medical bills you pay out of pocket.
Should You Go to the Doctor After a Car Accident?
You should always seek medical care following a car accident, even if the accident appeared to be minor. Even fender benders can result in whiplash, spinal injuries, and chronic neck or back pain. Be sure to see an urgent care physician or your regular doctor as soon as possible following an accident.
Insurance adjusters may question the authenticity of your injuries if you did not seek medical care right away. Follow up with your doctor within several days or weeks of your accident as necessary to re-evaluate any pain or symptoms you may have. Ask for diagnostic tests like X-rays whenever possible to rule out any injuries which may not be immediately visible.
Finally, keep detailed records of your doctor visits, diagnoses, and any medications prescribed to you.
Whose Insurance Company Pays for Your Car Accident?
Who ultimately pays for a car accident injury settlement depends on the state you live in and whether someone was fully or partially at fault for the accident.
Missouri Car Accident Claims
Missouri is an at-fault state, meaning that the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying for any incurred damages. However, even if this is the case, you must prove that the other driver caused the accident through their reckless or negligent actions in order to receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
Missouri also recognizes the legal doctrine of comparative negligence, meaning that if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, your compensation will be reduced accordingly. For example, if you are deemed to be 20% responsible for your car accident, any damages you collect from the other driver or their insurance company will be reduced by 20%.
The statute of limitations on car accident claims in Missouri is five years, which is longer than many other states. If your accident occurred within the past five years and you are still suffering from chronic pain or disability resulting from your car wreck, you may still be eligible for a car accident injury settlement.
Kansas Car Accident Claims
If your car accident occurred in Kansas, the road to compensation is a different story. In a no-fault state, your accident claim is limited to economic damages—medical bills, damage to your vehicle, and lost wages—and they are initially paid for by your own insurance company’s personal injury protection (PIP) policy. Later, the at-fault party’s insurance company reimburses your company.
The only way to pursue non-economic damages, or damages that exceed the amount covered by your own insurance policy, is to file a claim against the other party. But there are strict requirements for filing a claim against another driver. You may be able to collect compensation for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and disability as well as economic damages. Like Missouri, when it comes to filing a claim against another driver, comparative negligence is a factor when determining settlement amounts. If you contributed to the crash, your car accident injury settlement will be reduced accordingly.
Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for Kansas car accident claims is two years. This means it is crucial to consult an attorney as soon as possible after a wreck.
How Do You Negotiate a Car Accident Injury Settlement?
Car accident claims can be tricky and confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with your state’s statutes regarding car accident claims or how car insurance companies operate. The best way to negotiate a car accident injury settlement and get the most money from a car accident in the shortest amount of time is to consult with a car accident attorney.
Ultimately, a car accident lawyer can help you to:
- File a claim with applicable insurance in a timely manner
- Keep meticulous track of all the necessary records and bills
- Hire experts to add value to your case, if needed.
- Make demands on the insurance company using the factors they consider
- Calculate a fair settlement
- Make certain your liens and obligations are paid
- Negotiate to receive the most money for your car accident
- Apply the threat of suit if necessary
Who to Call After a Car Accident
At Patterson Legal Group, our personal injury lawyers have years of experience in upholding the rights of car accident victims after serious and often life-changing wrecks. We also know all the tactics car insurance companies will try to use to get you to accept inadequate car accident injury settlement offers.
Ready for our team to help? You can reach us by phone at 888-687-2400 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices conveniently located in Wichita, Topeka, and St. Joseph. You can also speak with a representative online using our LiveChat service.
Need a copy of your accident report in Missouri or Kansas? We’ll obtain a copy and send it to you for free.
The information on this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to serve as legal advice for an individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship nor does viewing this material constitute an attorney-client relationship.