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What to Expect After a Car Accident?

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February 5, 2024 Car Accidents

No one is ever truly prepared for a car crash. In fact, even if you were in a car accident before, the aftermath can overwhelm you just as much as if it were your first time. Knowing what to expect after the accident can reduce the stress and make your next steps less confusing.

However, if you do not have a car accident attorney on your side, figuring out how to navigate the legal process after a car accident can be tough. This guide will explain what you can expect physically and legally after your accident to be prepared for all eventualities. We will also provide you with practical tips on protecting your rights and ensuring you are getting fair compensation.

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What to Expect Physically: Symptoms to Watch Out for After a Car Accident

What to Expect After a Car Accident

Being involved in an automobile crash can be a traumatic event that causes a great deal of stress to the body. Some physical symptoms are common among victims of car accidents in the first hours, days, and even weeks after the accident.

Below are some symptoms you should watch out for after the crash.

  • Pain and stiffness. If you experience pain and/or stiffness, it may be because your body is signaling that something is not right and can indicate a serious underlying issue.
  • Headache. Headache is often a symptom of whiplash, the most common type of injury in car accidents. Statistically speaking, about two million Americans experience whiplash every year. However, headaches can also be a symptom of other conditions, including concussion and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • Nausea and vomiting. Nausea is often a natural response of the body to an event as traumatic as a car accident. However, both nausea and vomiting can also be a symptom of a more serious health problem, such as internal bleeding or a traumatic brain injury.
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities. Numbness and tingling in hands, feet, and other parts of the body are an indication that a person has suffered nerve damage. However, if the symptom persists, it can indicate even more serious health conditions like spinal cord injuries.
  • Difficulty breathing and chest pain. A victim of a car accident may experience chest pain and difficulty breathing even if they did not hit their chest in the crash. Either way, getting yourself checked out by a doctor to rule out serious underlying problems is important.

If you notice any of these symptoms after the accident, get medical attention (if you haven’t already) immediately. Do not worry about the cost of the treatment for now, as it is critical to prioritize your health and well-being.

However, the financial burden of your medical care should not fall on your shoulders, and your lawyer will pursue compensation for all your medical expenses and other losses.

Steps to Recovery After a Car Accident

The path to recovery following a car crash typically consists of these five steps:

Seeking Prompt Medical Attention

After an accident, it is crucial to seek medical attention right away, even if you do not feel any immediate pain or discomfort. Often, the adrenaline rush that accompanies a crash can mask symptoms that may only surface later.

Prompt medical attention is important not only for immediate treatment of injuries and prevention of long-term damage but also to strengthen your legal claim for compensation.

  • Fact: Every year, an estimated 5.4 million Americans suffer medically consulted injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

Following a Treatment Plan

Once you visit a doctor and know what steps to take to aid your recovery, it is essential to diligently follow the treatment plan prescribed by the doctor. Despite the possible inconvenience and struggle, proper treatment maximizes recovery and minimizes the chance of complications and long-term problems.

Healing takes time, which is why it is crucial to remain patient with your recovery process. Any deviation from the treatment plan can impede your recovery and jeopardize your compensation.

Contacting an Attorney to Get Assistance

Hiring an attorney is one of the most essential steps after a car accident. Your attorney can navigate the legal system, deal with any insurance claims, and negotiate with third parties to get the best possible outcome for your case.

Documenting Your Medical Expenses and Other Costs

Document all expenses associated with your accident promptly and thoroughly. This includes medical bills, prescriptions, travel costs, therapy expenses, and lost income.

Keep accurate records and paperwork associated with each expense, as your attorney will be working to recoup your expenses from those responsible for the accident.

Claiming Compensation

If you sustained injuries in a car accident, you may claim compensation from the other party’s insurance or through a lawsuit. Consult your attorney to determine your best options for compensation, as everyone’s situation is different.

What Happens (Legally) After a Car Accident?

What Happens (Legally) After a Car Accident

You may not have complete control over what happens on the road, which is why car accidents occur in the first place.

Even the most experienced and cautious driver can be involved in a car crash. However, what happens after the accident from a legal perspective is something you can – and should – control.

If you have suffered an injury in a car accident and need financial compensation, your case will go through these stages:

  • You file an insurance claim for compensation. Typically, the first step (after seeking medical attention) a person takes following a car crash is to notify their insurance company of the accident and file a claim for compensation. The insurer will usually request relevant information about the accident, including the date, time, location, parties involved, etc. Then, the company will take the time to process your claim and determine whether or not you have coverage for the damages you have incurred.
  • You try to settle your claim with the insurance company. If the insurance company accepts your claim and offers you compensation, you can settle the payment without filing a lawsuit. However, keep in mind that the insurance company may try to settle for less, which is why you need to determine whether or not the proposed amount is fair before signing a settlement release. If you do not agree with the offer, you can initiate negotiations and try to settle the claim for a higher payout.
  • (If no settlement is reached) You file a complaint and serve it on the defendant. If negotiations fail and the insurance company is unwilling to pay you the amount you deserve, the next step is to file a complaint to initiate litigation and serve it on the defendant. Filing a complaint means that you are filing a lawsuit against the other driver or, in some cases, their insurance company and your case will be headed to court. If you haven’t already, you might want to hire a lawyer to guide you through the legal proceedings at this stage.
  • You participate in discovery. After the defendant is served with the complaint, both parties participate in discovery. This is the process where both parties exchange all relevant information regarding their cases in preparation for litigation. This includes medical reports, witness statements, and other documentation that helps the parties assess each other’s weaknesses and strengths. Your attorney will assist you in this process and ensure you are getting all the required information and are in compliance with the procedural requirements.
  • You give negotiations to settle a second chance. After the discovery is complete, both parties will have a better understanding of what to expect if their case goes to trial. At this point, the parties may be more likely to try to reach a mutual agreement than before the discovery process. Negotiations may or may not be successful in settling the claim. If they aren’t, your case will proceed to trial.
  • If negotiations fail, your case can go to trial. If you and the other party have not reached a mutually acceptable settlement, your case will proceed to trial. At the trial, a judge or jury will hear the case and decide whether you are entitled to compensation and, if so, how much the defendant should be ordered to pay. Trials entail complicated procedures, so you always need the assistance of a skilled lawyer.

With a lawyer on your side, you can walk through the steps of your legal case with confidence and ease.

Tips On How to Protect Your Rights & Get Fair Compensation After a Car Accident

Fair Compensation After a Car Accident

Everyone’s situation is unique, which is why the challenges a person may face on their path to recovery may differ from one individual to another. However, there are certain universally accepted things you can do to safeguard your rights after a car accident and ensure that you are getting the compensation to which you are entitled:

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

When involved in a car accident, you should always prioritize your health. That is why it is vital to visit a hospital as soon as you possibly can after the crash.

You must take this step for both medical and legal reasons.

  • From a medical perspective, getting prompt medical care ensures that all injuries and symptoms are treated early to prevent possible complications and long-term problems.
  • From a legal perspective, immediate medical attention provides you with valuable proof of injury for your claim.

If you delay seeking medical attention, it can be used against you by the insurance company and may weaken your case.

Get Help from a Car Accident Lawyer As Soon As Possible

Getting help from a lawyer within hours or days after the crash can protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer can advise you on your legal options, investigate the accident, gather evidence to strengthen your case, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you in court.

Keep Good Records After the Accident

The success of your claim depends, in part, on the availability of records in your case. Keep track of all medical bills, receipts, and other documents related to your accident.

Additionally, it is important to keep a journal of your injuries and pain and write down how they have affected your daily life, such as missed workdays, difficulty sleeping, and any emotional distress you may have experienced. All these records can increase the value of your case.

Do Not Trust the Insurance Company

The insurance company’s primary objective is to protect its own interests, not yours. The company will try to settle your case quickly and for as low a sum as possible, regardless of the actual damages you suffered. You should be wary of any settlement offers that the insurance company makes and make sure they are fair and just before accepting an offer and signing away your rights.

Be Careful What You Sign

Some insurance companies may try to get you to sign a release and waiver of liability without explaining its implications and without giving you the opportunity to consult with your lawyer.

This document can prevent you from pursuing more compensation in the future, even if you discover additional injuries or your accident-related costs otherwise increase. Always have your lawyer review any paperwork before signing it.

Do Not Wait Too Long to File Your Case

Every state has a deadline, known as a statute of limitations, which limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after an accident. In Colorado, for example, injured victims involved in car accidents have three years from the injury to pursue a legal proceeding (Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-80-101). You may lose your right to recover damages if you miss the deadline.

Car Accident Lawyer, Keith Fuicelli

Keith Fuicelli, Denver Car Accident Attorney

Understandably, you will need some time to regain a sense of normalcy after the crash before moving forward with your legal case. However, remember that you do not have to take care of the legal side of things on your own. You can entrust your case to a Denver personal injury lawyer and devote all the time and energy you have to your physical recovery.