A car crash or accident is physically, emotionally, and financially draining. You have unexpected medical bills and car repairs on top of your usual monthly expenses. It may seem overwhelming when you factor in lost pay if you cannot work due to injuries.
If the other party caused the accident, you could be entitled to compensation. Most auto insurance covers medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages. There are steps you can take to maximize a potential personal injury settlement and minimize your out-of-pocket costs.
Read on to discover five realistic ways to save money after a car crash to help you get back on your feet.
1. Take Care of Yourself
You’ve just suffered a traumatic event. Always seek medical care promptly after a car crash, even if you think it’s no big deal. Untreated injuries not only endanger your health but also affect your wallet. It is more expensive to treat an injury when there are complications.
After you get medical treatment, follow your doctor’s orders. Going back to work or your daily activities too soon could set you back weeks or months. Be sure to keep all documentation related to your injuries, from X-rays to invoices. You will need to include this information when you file an insurance claim.
Your emotional health has suffered as well. Take time to calm down before making any financial or life-changing decisions. This is especially true if you are on pain relievers or other medicine that clouds your judgment.
2. Get Several Estimates for Car Repairs
Get a few estimates from local body shops. If they are reputable, the prices should be about the same. Getting several estimates helps protect you from overcharges.
Insurance companies usually have a list of preferred vendors. There are advantages to working with a repair service through the insurance company because they bill the insurer directly. You also have some assurance of quality and craftsmanship.
3. Read Your Insurance Policy Carefully
If you live in a no-fault state, your personal injury protection (PIP) covers a portion of your damages. Most people fail to read the fine print when they buy auto insurance. Read your insurance policy carefully to ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve from paying your premiums.
For example, an uninsured or underinsured motorist rider could help pay for your medical bills if a hit-and-run driver injures you. Ask an attorney to review your insurance if you have any questions.
4. Shop Smart if Buying a New or Used Vehicle
If the damage to your car exceeds the market value, the insurance company considers it “totaled.” That means it’s time to look for a new or used vehicle. (The market value is the amount your car was worth before the accident based on its age, condition, and trim package).
Today, car buyers can easily compare models, trim packages, mileage, and prices online. You should always review a used car’s accident history—ideally, it shouldn’t have one. Reputable car dealerships provide as much history as possible about a used vehicle, including previous damage, repairs, and maintenance.
If you’re financing your new or used car, check with your bank or credit union. Although car manufacturers like to advertise a low-interest rate, there are always exceptions and exclusions. You’re likely to get a better deal using your financial institution.
5. Get an Attorney to Help You Recover Damages
Probably the best way to save money after a car accident is to work with an attorney to help you recover damages. You could be doing yourself an economic disservice when you seek compensation on your own.
Injured individuals who hire an attorney are more likely to receive financial compensation. About 50 percent of plaintiffs who represent themselves secure a settlement, meaning half of them walk away empty-handed. On the other hand, 91 percent of plaintiffs with attorneys receive either a settlement or verdict.
Working with an attorney to help you recover compensation from the liable party could make a big difference for several reasons.
Potentially Bigger Payout
Hiring an attorney usually gets you a bigger payout. In a recent study, personal injury cases with attorneys had an average settlement of $77,600. The average payout for an individual without a lawyer was $17,600.
Many car accident attorneys don’t charge any upfront fees and work on contingency. You pay nothing unless and until you receive compensation, at which time an attorney deducts a percentage from your total payout. Even with a portion of your payment deducted, most plaintiffs make more money with an attorney than they would alone.
Let a Lawyer Do the Heavy Lifting
Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums. They lose money by paying claims. Most insurance adjusters make it challenging for an injured individual to get compensation for medical bills and other expenses.
A car accident attorney protects your legal rights and helps you navigate the complexities of insurance claims, such as:
- Investigating the cause and circumstances of the accident
- Communicating with the insurance company on your behalf
- Identifying all liable parties
- Collecting evidence of liability
- Assessing your economic and emotional damages
- Filing, tracking, and managing your insurance claim
- Negotiating a fair settlement
Most car accident claims settle outside of court. If negotiations break down, you want to feel comfortable having an attorney who can effectively present your case to a jury.
Damages an Attorney Helps You Recover
Damages come in several forms: economic, emotional, and punitive. Each car accident claim is different. It is challenging to predict what your case might be worth without thoroughly evaluating all the evidence.
The most commonly recovered damages for a car crash caused by someone’s negligence include:
- Medical care, present, and future
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Car rental
- Pain and suffering
- Final expenses (if a loved one passed away from the accident)
Look At Your Options
An essential element of saving money after a car accident is pursuing compensation from the liable party. While you don’t have to hire an attorney, it might be worth your time to schedule a free initial consultation. You have one chance to seek damages. Most states have a statute of limitations (or deadline) on filing a personal injury lawsuit. Whatever you decide, talking to a car accident lawyer will help you understand your options and rights.