One would hope you will never have to know what it’s like to fight for compensation after a car or truck collision. Unfortunately, not everyone who experiences a crash obtains what he or she is due for coverage of medical bills and damages without having to file a car accident claim.

If you have to go through this process, you’ll want to know how to file a successful claim. Here are four essentials everyone should know about car accident claims.

1. Statute of Limitations 

Don’t wait too long to file. According to a law known as the statute of limitations, you have only a certain amount of time to file a claim for damages. If you miss it, you’re out of luck. 

Every state has a different deadline based on the type of case involved. In Texas, for example, the deadline depends on when the injury manifests and who is being accused; but it’s usually around two years.

Before going through all the work of filing a claim, first make sure the court is likely to listen to it by verifying you’ve met the statute of limitations.

2. Evidence
When you draw up a claim, ultimate success largely depends on the amount of evidence you accumulate to back it up. If you want to have a strong case, you should be prepared to present photos, medical reports, police reports, witness statements, and other information that will support your assertion that you’re a victim who merits compensation.

One of the most important pieces of evidence will be your medical bills and evaluations. You need to prove to the court that your injuries and costs are severe enough to warrant a lawsuit. Otherwise, your case could be dismissed. 

It’s also critical to take your truck or car to a dealer or mechanic for inspection. Your insurance company will probably do its own evaluation of the vehicle, but you’ll want to get a second opinion, just in case the insurer tries to shortchange you on the worth of the vehicle.

Your second and/or third opinion can be used to fight for your right to compensation. If you’re suing your insurance company, make sure you keep all paper and digital correspondence. This can be used as evidence of the company’s failure to take proper care of you.

Shooting photos and gathering your own witness statements can also be valuable for trying to prove your case. These can be submitted to the court as a testament to your innocence in the incident, and your right to compensation. 

3. Hiring an Attorney 

You have the right to represent yourself in a car accident claim, but you probably shouldn’t do that. The aftermath of a car accident and all the requirements for a proper claim can get very complicated.

It’s difficult to know all the legal rules and jargon you need if you’re not a trained attorney. Hire someone who believes in your case, has your best interest in mind, and possesses the expertise to win.

Don’t worry about the cost; you won’t be asked to pay a dime until you win your case. 

4. Be Honest, but Quiet 

As you go through the proceedings of a car accident claim with an experienced attorney leading the charge, he or she will likely advise you to be honest whenever you’re asked a question directly, but to volunteer as little as possible.

The two pieces of advice may seem contradictory, but it’s actually quite sound. When you’re in court, the defendant’s lawyer will try to twist your words to make them work against you.

Cracking a joke or giving a too-detailed description of what happened could get you into trouble without realizing it. Sticking to the facts without embellishment or extra details is the smartest course of action.

Above all, listen to your attorney. She or he has been through all this before, and can help you come out victorious if you’re willing to heed professional counsel.

Car collision claims can be long and difficult to win, but a good attorney will lead you to your rightful reward in the end.