After the initial shock of being involved in a car accident, you may be feeling overwhelmed as you consider the process of pursuing a claim for compensation. Although the process is relatively straightforward, there are still several steps to follow to ensure the best outcome possible. Therefore, it is important to understand how a car accident claim works to know what to expect.
The Miami car accident lawyers at Elstein Legal will take the time to explain the steps of the process as they pertain to your case and work with you to develop a personalized strategy for each stage. Throughout your claim, our legal team keeps you informed about the status of your case and negotiations. So, even if you do not know what you need to do, we are by your side every step of the way.
Start by Getting the Medical Treatment You Need
The most crucial step of any car accident claim is getting the appropriate medical treatment. Seeing a physician after a car accident is essential to ensure your health and well-being. Even if you do not think you have injuries, or do not think your injuries are serious, it is crucial to see a doctor.
Many common car accident injuries, like whiplash, may not be immediately apparent in the hours or days after your crash. Without the proper medical treatment, you may inadvertently exacerbate your injuries. Additionally, your physician’s diagnosis and care plan form the basis of your request for compensation, making it an essential part of a car accident claim.
Florida Requires You To Seek Medical Treatment After an Accident
If you have been in a car accident in Miami or anywhere in Florida, seeking medical treatment is a vital part of your accident claim. That is because, according to Fla. Stat. § 627.736, you must seek initial medical services and care within 14 days of the car accident in order to receive benefits under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage.
If you fail to receive the required medical treatment within the specified time, your insurer may deny your claim.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Once you have received the appropriate medical care, it is highly advised to retain legal representation from an experienced car accident attorney. Although this is not required, many accident victims benefit significantly from having skilled legal representation as early in the claims process as possible. Your injury attorney can help protect you from making costly mistakes that can reduce your settlement amount, especially when speaking with the insurance company.
Additionally, your lawyer knows what to do at every stage of the car accident claims process and will aggressively defend your best interests.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Your next step is to contact your insurance company to notify them that you were in an accident. If you choose to handle your case without the help of a qualified lawyer, you will need to be very careful with what you say to the insurance company.
Be sure to stick to factual accounts only, avoid statements accepting fault for the accident, and never agree to make a recorded statement.
Gathering Evidence for Your Claim
You and your car accident lawyer will then take time to gather evidence relating to your version of events about the crash. The types of evidence you may collect during this step include:
- Medical bills
- Medical records
- Missed work records
- Recovery journal
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
- Property damage estimates
- Police reports
Draft and Send the Demand Letter
Once you and your car accident lawyer have gathered all of the evidence you will need, the next step involves the demand letter. A demand letter is usually written by a lawyer on behalf of their client, outlining the amount of compensation the client is requesting, the details surrounding the accident, specific damages, and the evidence to support the compensation claim.
Your demand letter will serve as the official notice that you are taking legal action and the starting point for negotiations.
The Negotiation Process
After a short waiting period, the insurance company will respond to your attorney by either approving your demand or rejecting the demand and sending a counteroffer. Although the insurance company may accept your initial demand, generally, they will counter in an effort to pay you less.
At this stage, having an experienced car accident lawyer is especially beneficial. They will aggressively defend your interests as they go back and forth with the insurance company to get you the maximum compensation possible. Often, car accident victims settle for less than they deserve without taking the time to exert their rights during this negotiation stage.
Your injury lawyer will work on your behalf to send counteroffers to your insurer if they refuse to pay you a fair settlement. The negotiation phase continues until you are able to reach an agreement on the amount of compensation.
Accept the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer or Go to Trial
After the negotiation stage of the car accident claims process, you will have two options. First, you can accept the settlement offer. You should only accept a settlement if you believe it is an adequate amount based on the facts of your accident and the severity of your injuries. Your lawyer will be able to offer you advice on when it may be right to settle, but the choice is ultimately yours.
If you do not believe the settlement offer is adequate, the next step in the claims process is to take your case to court. You will need to file the correct legal documents with the court that has the jurisdiction to hear your case within the statute of limitations.
Elstein Legal Can Help at Every Stage of Your Claim
At Elstein Legal, we can help you understand how the car accident claims process works and what you need to do to ensure the best outcome possible. We can handle your claim at every stage, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries and rebuilding your health.
Call us at (305) 299-2835 or contact us today for your free consultation to get started.