Good Injury Settlement Depends on Your Lawyer
Getting a good personal injury settlement means getting your vehicle repaired or totaled, healing as quickly as possible, and obtaining the financial compensation you are entitled to receive. This post explains the steps you should take to ensure these things after being in a car accident.
1. Seek Legal Advice ASAP
It is important to seek advice from a personal injury attorney immediately after your crash. He will assess your claim, explain how the claims and lawsuit processes work, and immediately start working to get you a good injury settlement.
There are important time-sensitive details that must be taken care of. Don’t think you can ignore your claim for weeks and it will improve. And since injury lawyers provide a free no-obligation first meeting, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
2. Understand What Damages You Are Entitled To
In order to get a good settlement or verdict, it is important to understand what damages you can be compensated for. They include the following:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages and benefits as well as career damage;
- Pain and suffering;
- Disfigurement (i.e. scarring);
- Disability (e.g. if you were confined to a wheelchair); and
- Miscellaneous costs (e.g. if you require assistance with domestic chores and you had to hire a housekeeper)
3. Gather Evidence To Prove Liability
The more evidence you have about how the wreck happened, the easier it is to prove that an accident was not your fault. The other driver and his company often claim that to get out of paying you money. Or he can say that another driver or cause was to blame. Or allege that he had an excuse, like the sun was setting in his eyes, or in one case I was finally able to resolve in court, a large box blew across the interstate. Useful evidence includes these items:
- Police report;
- Witness statements;
- Photographs and measurements of the accident scene;
- Photographs of damage to vehicles;
- Police reports;
- Criminal court report (e.g. the other driver was driving while intoxicated); and
- Driver’s history (e.g. the other driver had past DWI’s)
The insurance company attorney and adjuster will be working diligently to gather their own evidence to rebut the above, so the more documentation you have to support your claim and the quicker you do this, the better.
4. Get Medical Records and Bills To Prove Injuries
Because the amount of compensation for your injuries depends on how seriously you were hurt, medical evidence is essential. Reports from the EMT technicians, emergency room doctors, diagnostic facilities (e.g. CTs and MRIs), surgeons, counselors, and therapists can make or break your claim.
Your attorney will order these records and bills and obtain the necessary authentication. He will analyze them and use the records and bills to your advantage.
5. Understand the Extent of Your Injuries
Depending on the severity of your injuries, it will take months (and even years, in worst case scenarios) for you to physically recover. The most important steps you can take are to
- Attend your doctor appointments on a consistent basis;
- Follow your doctor’s advice;
- Understand your medical costs and how they will paid; and
- Avoid settling until you understand the extent of your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages
Negotiating your personal injury claim too quickly means that you are presumably being underpaid, especially if your injuries worsen and your medical costs and lost wages increase. The other driver’s insurance company knows this — and doesn’t care. They will “swoop and settle” – make a small offer in exchange for you releasing your claim to further payment. They did this with clients in a major wrong-way crash whom I was just hired to represent. They were smart not to fall for it and you shouldn’t either.
6. Keep Accurate Records
If your personal injury case should have to go to trial, detailed records are useful. Keep track of when you went to a doctor, how your injuries are healing, what medicine you are taking, and how you feel. This information helps to ensure you secure the compensation you’re entitled to.
7. Protect Your Medical Records
Insurance companies will use your medical records against you, even when they support your case. This is why your attorney will deal with any problems and release your medical records to the adjuster at the appropriate time.
8. Communicate With the Insurance Adjuster
Your attorney will know how to communicate with the insurance adjuster. He will guarantee that the company reserves sufficient proceeds to pay the projected value of your claim. Many factors affect your payout amount which is why experienced legal advice is crucial.
9. Calculate What Your Case Is Worth
After you have been in a car or truck collision, how much money should you receive? I consider a host of variables to calculate a range of what I believe the claim or verdict could yield and share that with his clients. I ask them to determine amounts that are best case, good, and minimal to keep the offers in perspective while I am negotiating their case. On Monday, I represented a man crashed into by an 18-wheeler in a mediation and these numbers helped get my client the compensation he wanted.
10. File Suit
How do you know whether you should accept the offer made by Allstate or Fred Loya or whether you should just file a lawsuit? Your injury lawyer will explain, but sometimes it is better to sue from the outset.
Yes, there are disadvantages, including waiting one to two years to get to trial, paying additional expenses and attorney’s fees, and going through what is often a nerve-racking process. But if certain companies or adjusters are on the other side, sometimes it is better to get into line at the courthouse, develop your case and let a jury determine your damages. But often, when the other driver’s insurance company sees that you are serious, it will make a serious offer.
For more information on making a personal injury claim and getting the personal injury settlement you deserve, contact us today.