There are steps you can take to improve the value of your claim and get the maximum possible compensation out of your Tampa car accident claim; in this article, we’ll tell you exactly how to do that.
The thought of a car accident is a nuisance for anyone to imagine but it happens all day every day. That’s why all Tampa motorists should be prepared for the possibility of getting into one. At least 77% of drivers on the road have been in at least one accident already and the lifetime average for all drivers is about three to four accidents.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you have a right to seek compensation and hold them accountable for all your suffering and inconveniences. Read on and learn about the steps you can take to increase your car accident claim value and why hiring a Tampa car accident lawyer is a critical step.
Getting the Most Money From a Tampa Car Accident Claim
Here’s an outline of the steps you need to take to maximize your Tampa car accident claim value:
- Hire a skilled Tampa personal injury lawyer with a successful track record
- Gather as much evidence as possible. This is the keynote of substantiating all personal injury claims.
- Do not delay medical care, get attention right away. If you wait too long, it will look like your injuries aren’t that serious or you didn’t take them seriously enough to get prompt medical care.
- Report the accident; if for some reason police did not report to the accident scene, you can file a police report online. For more information about how to do this, click here.
- Check with your insurance company to see how much coverage they give. As a Tampa driver, you most likely have PIP insurance to over initial damages, but if the accident damages exceed your policy limit, you’ll need to pursue the at fault party for additional compensation.
- Stay away from social media during your claims process.
- Do not accept the first settlement offer, especially if you haven’t yet consulted with a knowledgeable attorney.
Understanding Car Accidents: What Are the Top Contributing Factors for Car Accidents in Tampa?
Here are some of the most common reasons we have clients come in for car accidents that were caused by careless, reckless, or negligent drivers:
- Drunk driving
- Aggressive driving such as driving substantially over the speed limit or running a red light
- Poor weather conditions that can decrease visibility
- Distracted driving and other driving errors
- Following too closely without adequate space
If you are now stuck with injuries, missed work, and emotional trauma from an accident caused by someone else, you need to speak with an experienced lawyer about your legal options. That way you don’t miss the opportunity to win adequate compensation to help you cover all of the accident related expenses. What people often don’t know is that pain and suffering is a legitimate damage for which accident victims have a right to seek compensation.
Again, seeking fair compensation for non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering) requires the expertise of a lawyer who has experience handling these cases and successfully winning generous payouts for their clients. There are many factors to consider when determining the value of a claim that you may not even be aware of.
Hire an Expert Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer
Perhaps the most reliable and strategic step you can take to safeguarding a fair settlement is to hire strong legal representation. A personal injury lawyer with a clear and proven track record is your best bet.
If they’ve won cases for a lot of clients in the past, they have the experience and ability to help you get the full value of your claim. Remember, part of getting every penny is knowing how to assess damages and declare a fair price for each one.
In addition to helping you determine a fair claim value, you can expect your attorney to investigate the accident, handle negotiations and all dealings with the defense, and then fight to win you the full amount you deserve. They will see to it that you restore financial compensation for all of your physical, financial, and emotional damages that were caused by a careless driver.
One last very important note is that if you think you can’t afford an attorney, we advise you to think again and look further into it. Most Tampa car accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee. Meaning, you only pay them if you win, usually by giving them a percentage of the settlement award. Not only do you get to walk away with enough to cover all your losses, but they also get paid more if they win you more, so everyone wins in the end.
Start Gathering Evidence to Support Your Claim at the Accident Scene
Proving liability and damages in a car accident requires solid evidence to support your claim. You can help your attorney by starting to collect evidence right after the accident, on the scene.
Start by getting basic information such as:
- Driver contact and insurance information
- The make, model, and year of the car
- License plate number of all cars involved
- Witness contact info
- Police names and badge numbers
- Pictures and videos of the accident scene, property damages, and your injuries
Once you leave the accident scene, here is some additional information you will need to gather as evidence for your case:
- Medical costs
- Statements from the insurance company
- Receipts for property damage and repairs
- A copy of the official incident report
- All documentation, including invoices, receipts, and doctors notes, for injury-related bills (e.g., prescription drugs, OTC drugs, assistive devices, in-home care, etc.)
- Employment records showing missed work and insurance coverage
- Any other loss or expense you incurred as a result of the motor vehicle accident
It’s impossible to have “too much evidence.” With this in mind, you can proactively start building a strong case for yourself while you’re at the scene of the accident. Evidence deteriorates quickly so it’s best if this can gather as much as possible while you’re still there. Don’t worry if you didn’t already do this – your attorney can help you get all the evidence you need.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away, Waiting Can Damage Your Claim
Another way you can help your case and your attorney to maximize your claim value is by getting medical attention ASAP. Even if you feel like your injuries are “minor”, do not delay getting medical care. Timing is crucial. We understand that you have commitments and obligations, but delaying medical care can be detrimental to getting fair compensation later.
One vital thing to understand is that the adrenaline you experience after the shock of a car accident can somewhat mask your pain and injury symptoms, causing you to falsely believe you’re ok or don’t have injuries. This false sense of feeling ok can be dangerous as you may have a severe injury that worsens without treatment all while you’re not even aware of it. This is especially true for internal injuries like organ damage or internal bleeding which can be life threatening if left untreated.
rather than taking a chance in something with such high stakes as your health and well being, get checked out by a doctor. Only they can give a proper assessment and correct diagnosis for the full extent of your injuries. Even so, you may experience delayed symptoms and pain from your injury, which is very common after a car accident. Therefore you should stay alert and pay attention to your life body and any signs of injury in the days following the accident as well.
If no EMT’s or emergency paramedics come to the scene, try to get to a doctors office no later than the day after for a thorough examination. It’s not just important for your wellness but also will help append your injuries to the accident. Getting immediate medical care creates a temporal connection between your injuries and the accident. Finally, you’ll have medical documentation to vouch for exactly how bad your injuries are and how much money you need to cover medical expenses related to the accident.
Report the Accident and Check Your Insurance Coverage
Florida law requires all drivers to carry PIP coverage to cover damages in the event of an accident. Tampa law also states that you must stay at the scene of the crime if there was an injury or a substantial amount of property damage.
It may also be necessary for you to report the accident to your insurance company; most carriers require the policyholder to notify them about the accident within a short time frame. If you fail to do so in a timely manner, they could reject your claim entirely. That’s why it’s a good idea to check the requirements of your specific policy or consult your attorney for legal advice. And remember, when you speak with the insurance company, be it yours or the at-fault party’s, never, ever, express any indication of fault. As in, don’t accept blame or even apologize, because that can suggest that you feel guilt giving the connotation that you believe you were at fault. Strict strictly to the objective facts and necessary details of the accident.
Stay Off of Social Media as Much as You Can During Your Claims Process
Social media is a part of everyone’s life nowadays and it can be hard to refrain from scrolling or posting. But if you start sharing too much information about your car accident, you could accidentally sabotage your claim. For instance, if you are claiming that you sustained severe injury-related accidents and then days or even weeks later post pictures of yourself out at social gatherings and parties, the insurance company will question how bad your injury really is.
If you can’t stay off of social media, that’s ok, but try not to share too much about what you’re doing and avoid sharing details about your personal injury claim. Stick with the funny memes and pictures of your dog.
Remember the saying “anything you say can and will be used against you?”. Well, it’s true. The at-fault party has a defense lawyer whose job is to look for any reason to pay you less, and oversharing can be an indirect way of handing that over to them. They might see the facebook pictures you posted months after the accident and say “Oh, if he can go kayaking, his injuries must not be as bad as he’s saying they are!”. So if you expect to get the most money from your car accident claim, law low on social media while your claim is active.
Do Not Accept an Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer Without Talking to a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer First
If you forgo hiring a lawyer, you’ll likely end up settling for much less than you actually deserve. Negotiating with insurance companies is a tiresome process, especially if you’re unaware of their tactics or lack experience and knowledge on how to effectively deal with them.
For example, they may intentionally call you immediately after the accident to catch you when you are vulnerable and shaken up by the accident. This usually happens within 48 hours of the accident, where they may offer you a very low settlement offer while they pull at your heartstrings and claim they want to “make things right”. This is a common tactic to watch out for when insurance companies try to lowball injury victims; accepting an offer too early will prevent you from any opportunities down the line to seek compensation for the true value of your claim.
The same holds true for negotiating with the at-fault driver, which you should avoid getting trapped into. A guilty driver who hit you while driving carelessly or recklessly may try to offer you cash or some other “seemingly great” deal. If they suggest keeping insurance out of the picture and claim they can have their friend fix your care for free, be wary and call a lawyer right away. All too often we hear of injury victims ending up empty handed and having to pay the bills out of pocket because they were too trusting of the at-fault driver who is later never to be found, and we don’t want to see you go down like that.
Don’t get discouraged by all of this, it’s simply the reality of car accidents. On the bright side, the job of a personal injury lawyer is to fight on behalf of injury victims and win them the best possible outcome. They know how to effectively communicate and negotiate with insurance companies and will save you a lot of hassle and headache by handling all of the communications on your behalf.
Claims Don’t Get Resolved Overnight So Try to Stay Patient
Most car accident claims get settled out of court, but a small percentage get taken to trial. Either way, it’s hardly ever an open-and-shut case. It can take a while for your attorney to negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement for you. In fact, it usually takes several rounds of negotiation before reaching an agreement, and the highest settlement offers don’t come quickly or easily.
They have a lot of work to do in order to build a strong case and paint a picture of the true extent that the accident has affected your life. Waiting for a fair settlement may seem unbearable in the moment, but it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run. If you stay patient and trust the process, you can end up getting a much bigger payout than the initial settlement offer. In short, winning a fair settlement or a sizeable jury verdict takes time and requires patience
Contact a Skilled Tampa Car Accident Lawyer Today
At the end of the day, you make the calls on how to move forward with your claim, but you can make sound and educated decisions with the help of a knowledgeable Tampa car accident lawyer. We can help you get a clear and realistic idea of how much you deserve and will fight hard until we get you that amount.
So, if you were hurt in a Tampa car accident caused by a negligent driver, call us to get the help and legal recourse you’re entitled to. Don’t settle for less than you really deserve and need.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.