Car accidents are common in the US, with millions of them happening on American roads every year. Many devastating ones cause greater suffering, from severe injuries to deaths and hefty property damage.
Some locations are notorious for their unsafe roads and high accident statistics. Missouri, for example, witnessed a 20% surge in traffic fatalities from 2019 to 2022. Statistics for St. Louis City and County were grim in 2021, with more than 14,000 victims injured and 178 people killed in traffic crashes.
If you are a resident or plan to visit the state or the city, safety should be on top of your mind. Mishaps may happen whether you are a pedestrian or behind the wheel. Most of them occur due to negligent drivers.
Fortunately, Missouri personal injury law, with its “at-fault” clause favors the victims. However, you can do your bit to ensure the compensation value you rightfully deserve. Here are a few tips to maximize your compensation claim as a car accident victim in St. Louis.
Gather as Much Evidence as Possible
The strength of your car accident compensation claim depends on the evidence you gather. Start by noting details of the negligent driver and their vehicle, the time of the accident, and injuries sustained. Pictures and videos of your injuries, damaged vehicle, debris, broken glass, skid marks, guardrails, landscape, and road signs can add value to your claim.
Also, click shots of construction work or road defects that may have contributed to the crash. You should get information regarding the eyewitnesses because they can be game-changers. Remember that no detail is insignificant in this context. If you are not in a position to move, ask someone else to take pictures for you.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Nothing matters more than seeking prompt medical attention right after the accident. Even small injuries can be deep-seated and may aggravate if you overlook them. According to Healthline, 60,000 Americans die of hemorrhages every year. The number underscores the importance of getting assessed for internal bleeding and trauma.
Besides saving your life, timely medical attention can help in maximizing your compensation claim. A medical professional’s documentation links your medical condition and the mishap. Diagnostic test reports are an even stronger piece of evidence. No one can refute these in the court.
Hire a Seasoned Car Accident Attorney
Navigating the legal complexities of a car accident claim is often overwhelming, even more, so when you have debilitating injuries to manage. The local laws and statute of limitations can be confusing for a victim. For instance, the statute of limitations for car accidents in Missouri is five years. Missing out on the deadline means losing the compensation you deserve.
Hiring a seasoned car accident lawyer in St. Louis should be a priority after an accident. With their deep understanding of local laws, they can help you negotiate with insurance companies. They also decide on the right amount, covering your medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. If the insurance company’s offer fails to meet your expectations, your lawyer prepares the case for trial.
TorHoerman Law notes that victims shouldn’t skimp on legal services fearing the cost. You can look for a no-obligation consultation to initiate the process. Further, a contingency fee model means you don’t pay the lawyer until you get your compensation.
Be Cautious When Settling a Claim
According to statistics, 90-95% of car accident claims are settled out of court. Forbes states that the average settlements were between $20,000 and $25,000 in 2020. While settling a claim with the insurance company sounds quick and easy, it isn’t always favorable for victims. You may end up with a far lower compensation value than what you deserve.
Insurance companies focus on minimizing payouts, even if they may seem cooperative. Don’t forget that you are dealing with a strong legal team of experts. Be cautious when giving statements, closing deals, or signing any documents. Never do it without consulting your attorney because adjusters may use your words against you to undermine your claim.
Consider Long-Term Damages
In a deadly St. Louis County car crash in May 2023, a mother of 10 was among the three victims who lost their lives. The damage her family sustained was more than the immediate loss. Her children lost their mother, her spouse lost his partner, and the family was shattered. Car accidents have long-term consequences, affecting victims and their families in many ways.
When calculating your compensation claim, think beyond the immediate medical expenses and lost wages. It should also include the potential future medical treatments, rehabilitation expenses, and the impact on your earning capacity. Emotional damage and loss of companionship are other factors you should consider. Your lawyer is the best person to calculate the claim value.
Maximizing your compensation claim is not just about calculations. It requires a comprehensive view of the situation, long-term financial considerations, and legal aspects. Moreover, you should look for a local lawyer with complete knowledge of state-specific laws. The road may look challenging, but you shouldn’t settle for less.