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What to Expect After a Car Accident

A car accident can happen in a split second, but the repercussions can be felt long-term, sometimes even for a lifetime. Experiencing a collision can leave you facing serious injuries, extensive property damage, and stressful financial burdens. On top of that, you must deal with the confusion of what to expect after your accident.

Knowing what to expect following a car crash can ease some of your worries. The best way to prepare for what’s to come is by consulting with a car accident attorney soon after your collision. A lawyer can provide direction concerning your case and compassion throughout the process.


Understanding Car Accidents

Certain details, including cause, liability, and injuries, are key in car accident cases. These factors can play a significant role in your case, impacting your claim results.

Common Causes

First and foremost, you must determine the cause of your accident. Sometimes, this is more complicated than it might initially appear.

Some of the most common causes of car accidents include, but are not limited to:

common causes of car accidents

In most cases, car crashes result from negligence. Figuring out the exact cause of your accident can determine who is financially responsible for your losses.


Simply put, the party or entity that caused your accident is liable to you for their wrongdoing.

Some of the parties that are often held accountable for collisions include:

  • Other drivers
  • Drivers’ employers
  • Cities and governmental entities
  • Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers

In some cases, more than one party can be responsible for your accident. This is one reason why you need a lawyer to investigate your collision and accurately determine liability.

Resulting Injuries

Car accident injuries can range in severity, depending on the seriousness of the crash and other factors.

Injuries common to vehicular collisions include:

  • Broken bones
  • Bruising
  • Lacerations
  • Head and brain injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries

Filing a claim after a car accident isn’t just about getting justice for your accident, but also to adequately cover medical expenses. Medical bills can quickly pile up, as treatment is costly. Recovering fair compensation can substantially aid in ensuring you get the care you need without worrying about finances.

What Happens Following a Collision?

Car accidents are stressful events, so you may feel confused afterward. However, what you do after a collision can affect your future claim. Knowing what to do and what to expect allows you to take essential steps to protect your rights and interests.

Immediately After the Accident

Immediately following your accident, contact law enforcement. Even if the other party tries to dissuade you from calling the police, have law enforcement assistance during a challenging moment. In addition, police can investigate your crash and create an accident report, which can play a large role in your case.

If you suffered injuries, do not hesitate to get treatment from EMTs. For more serious injuries, get medical attention at a local emergency room or from your primary physician.

Right after your collision, you should focus on your health and well-being. The rest can take a back seat as you focus on yourself.

In the Days After Your Crash

You should report your collision to your insurer in the days after your accident. Better yet, have a car accident attorney report it. The sooner you report it, the better. There is no strict time requirement to notify your auto insurance company about your crash, but insurers like to be aware as soon as possible.

Seek follow-up medical care. Depending on your injuries, you may need to see various doctors for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Your physical health should come first, and getting timely, adequate treatment is key to your recovery.

Schedule a consultation with a car accident lawyer as quickly as possible. This is a wonderful place to start if you don’t know what to do following your crash. A skilled attorney can provide much-needed clarity and guidance as you proceed with your claim.

Seeking Compensation After a Car Accident

Seeking Compensation

The journey toward compensation can be puzzling, especially if you know little about car accident claims. Fortunately, a car accident attorney can provide clarity and personalized advice regarding your case.

Generally, you can pursue financial recovery for a car accident by filing a collision claim through insurance or a personal injury lawsuit. Because every situation is unique, how you obtain compensation depends on your specific circumstances.

Filing an Insurance Claim

In most cases, you can pursue compensation through insurance if you’re in a car accident with another driver. However, depending on your state’s fault laws, you may file a claim through the other driver’s insurance or your own.

In no-fault states, fault does not initially play a role in the accident claim. Therefore, you will file a claim for compensation through your own insurance company. Still, this doesn’t mean no one is ever deemed at fault. If, after an investigation, the other driver is found responsible, your insurance company might request reimbursement.

On the other hand, in fault states, you can file a claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, which is called a third-party insurance claim.

After investigating your claim, the insurance company may approve or deny it. If you get approval, they’ll provide you with a settlement representing the value they’ve created for your claim. Should you get a claim denial, or if the insurance company’s settlement offer is inadequate, you may need to take further legal action.

Filing a Lawsuit

Sometimes, filing a personal injury lawsuit is necessary to pursue favorable compensation after your accident. Should your lawyer feel a lawsuit is the best course of action, they can handle all case-related tasks.

The Demand Letter

The first step is usually sending the insurance company a demand letter. In the letter, your lawyer includes:

  • Information about your accident
  • Details regarding your injuries and losses
  • Evidence concerning their insured’s liability

Based on the information provided, your attorney includes a monetary figure that best represents the value of your case. Upon receipt of the letter, the insurance company can accept the demand for payment, engage in settlement negotiations, or refuse to settle.

If sending a demand letter doesn’t result in a fair settlement, your lawyer can then file a personal injury lawsuit in court.

Initiating Your Lawsuit

Your car accident attorney can draft your petition and file that, along with supporting documentation and required fees, in court.

Once your case is filed, the opposing party receives notification through service of process. Defendants typically have about 21 days to file their response to the plaintiff’s petition in court.

After the opposing party’s response is filed, your case can continue onto the most important part: discovery.

The Discovery Process

Discovery is the part that allows both parties to build and strengthen their cases. Both sides can obtain information and answers to build their cases and strengthen their arguments by utilizing certain legal tools, such as interrogatories and depositions.

The discovery phase is also usually the most time-consuming part of any lawsuit. Depending on the case’s complexity and the parties’ willingness to move the case along, discovery can last several weeks to a year and beyond.

Once the discovery phase has concluded and both sides have what they need, you can move toward concluding your case.

Seeking Resolution

A personal injury case can either settle outside of court or go to trial.

During the settlement process, both parties’ attorneys go back and forth in negotiations, attempting to resolve the matter. If the parties reach an agreement, your case is over.

However, in some cases, parties cannot agree on the matter. When this happens, the case goes to trial. Both sides present their cases to the judge (and perhaps a jury) during the trial. The judge or jury makes their decision based on arguments, evidence, and testimony.

Whether your case settles pre-trial or has to go to court, you can feel confident knowing your lawyer will continue fighting for your right to fair compensation until the end.

What You Could Expect From the Insurance Company After a Collision

Insurance Company

Following an accident, the insurance company can be unpredictable. At the same time, insurers utilize several well-known tactics to benefit themselves and hurt your case. Knowing what you might expect can help prevent certain issues.

A Request for a Recorded Statement

In the days following your collision, don’t be surprised if the other driver’s insurance company calls you asking for a recorded statement. While this may not seem like a big deal, the insurance company does this with malicious intent.

Upon providing a recorded statement, the insurer will look for ways to use your words against you. This often proves successful, as accident victims may be nervous and say too much or inadvertently give away critical information.

The best way to avoid this is by refusing to provide a statement. Should the insurance company call you, send them directly to your lawyer.

A Quick Settlement Offer

Insurance companies know what most victims want: a rapid settlement. For this reason, some insurance companies send crash victims a settlement offer very soon after the accident. Unfortunately, many victims accept the offer, especially if they don’t have legal counsel directing them otherwise.

If the insurance company sends you a settlement offer, don’t do anything without consulting with a knowledgeable car accident attorney. A lawyer can determine whether the offer is fair based on your case. In most cases, the quick offer is much less than your case is worth.

Your attorney can communicate with the insurance company and negotiate to get you a better, more favorable settlement offer.

Attacks on the Validity of Your Claim

Insurance companies want to find ways to attack your case to limit their liability or shift liability to you. Therefore, it’s important to take proper steps after your accident to safeguard your rights and avoid giving the insurer anything to use against your case.

For example, if you forgo or fail to complete your medical treatment, the insurance company can use this information against you. This is one of the reasons why getting medical care is so critical, as medical records play such a big role in accident claims and compensation.


Insurance companies often purposely delay the process to tire you out. Insurers believe the longer you wait, the more impatient you’ll become, and the more likely you’ll want to settle quicker.

Car accident lawyers know how insurers operate, so they expect and work around delays. An attorney can help move the process along much faster than working alone.

When to Hire a Car Accident Attorney Following a Collision 

If you’re interested in taking action after a car crash and pursuing justice and compensation, time is limited. Every state has a pertinent statute of limitations, limiting the time a crash victim has to file their claim against the other party. Depending on your state, you’ll likely have one to six years to file a claim.

With this in mind, you should consult a car accident lawyer as quickly as possible following your collision. While you may feel you have plenty of time to file your claim, deadlines approach faster than it seems. If you miss filing your case on time, you’ll forfeit your right to seek compensation for your losses.

Securing legal representation soon after your car crash can give you immense peace of mind. Your case will be in the right hands, and your attorney can begin working on your case right away.

A Car Accident Lawyer Can Explain What Comes Next

You don’t have to live in confusion after a car accident. When you meet with a personal injury lawyer, they can address your concerns and explain what to expect from your claim. Knowing what the future holds and what you might experience can better prepare you to take on whatever comes your way.

Michael J. Sabbeth, Car Accident Lawyer
Michael J. Sabbeth,
Car Accident Attorney