Car accidents are draining enough without the occurrence of injuries and the stress of the personal injury claim process that often ensues as a result. But if you are injured by another driver, it’s essential to pursue the insurance and legal avenues appropriate for getting the compensation you deserve for the situation. If and when this happens, there are several ways you can make sure that you get the maximum settlement offer possible.
Talk to a Car Accident Attorney
First and foremost, it’s advisable and vital to get professional legal help with your claims or lawsuits. This will help to protect you from having to communicate directly with insurance companies or other parties, which is crucial because they are typically very experienced and know how to argue well for a minimum settlement figure.
In other words, an experienced car accident lawyer will know what to say (and what not to say), which will help prevent any slip-ups or miscommunications that could work against your case. This is a valuable aspect of hiring a lawyer in any case.
Another reason to do this is that personal injury lawyers and other practicing legal professionals will have a good sense of what kind of settlement offer you should expect for your case. Therefore, an attorney can help maximize your settlement. Without experience in this area, if you’re working on your own, the initial offer from the insurance company may seem high to you, even if it’s an incredibly low offer.
Record and Collect as Much Data as You Can
When the accident occurs, gather evidence and record the situation as thoroughly as possible to have data and facts ready to go later. This includes taking pictures of the accident, getting contact information for relevant parties, looking up similar situations and how they were settled, finding the official police report, writing down times, and recording details in writing of what exactly happened at the accident scene. This will help you down the road to get the best settlement possible.
It’s also vital to keep receipts related to medical bills and other costs and to have your medical records ready to submit to the process. Collecting data can help set yourself and your lawyer up for success in your case. The last thing you want is to be missing documents that could have proven negligence on the part of the other driver or some other key fact in your case or settlement negotiations. Ask your lawyer for advice on how to compile the best evidence.
Get Going on Your Claim or Lawsuit ASAP
It’s important to act fast. After you get medical treatment and are able to handle your situation, form your legal team and file your claim or lawsuit as soon as possible. This is important not only because of laws that limit the amount of time you can pass before you file something but also because it looks bad for your case if you wait too long. Even if you took a while to start the process simply because you needed to know your options, it might seem to the insurance company (and any judges or juries involved) that your circumstances could be more urgent.
It’s also good to start ASAP because the faster you act, the quicker you’ll receive fair compensation in your car accident settlement. This will reduce stress, help you move on more quickly, and ensure you don’t have outstanding debts hanging over your head for long because of someone else’s mistake.
Let the Insurance Company Give the First Figure
If you aren’t going through a lawyer but are opting to file a significant claim with the other driver’s insurance company, one strategy to use in your communications with the insurance company is to avoid giving your own ballpark number first. Let them share their number first, a classic negotiating strategy for personal injury claims that can help you leverage in the process.
Another aspect of this step is embracing the strategy of not accepting their first offer. Insurance companies are used to the process of negotiating, so don’t worry about offending or surprising anyone by pushing back on their initial offer. By getting the offer from them first, you’re setting yourself up for the ability to follow up with a higher request that matches what you need and deserve for the damages you’ve suffered.
Calculate Your Claim as Accurately as Possible
In the process of pursuing justice and compensation for your injuries and other damages, it’s a good idea to use the data you have to come up with your own calculation of how much is appropriate for a settlement. Having a ballpark number in mind gives you a baseline from which to work when navigating settlement negotiations. Be sure to include everything from lost wages to medical treatment costs.
Remember that insurance companies will almost always send lowball offers that may not even come close to what you need to cover damages. As a result, if you are communicating numbers at all, it’s a good idea to add a significant buffer to them, which might be anywhere from 25% to 100% extra or more, depending upon the situation and what you’re comfortable with. This is a normal part of negotiations.
Use “Need” Language in Your Communications
Again, if you have a lawyer, let them handle all of the communication for you. But if you don’t (or if, for some other reason, you are communicating with the insurance company), be sure to use “need” language rather than “want” language when referring to your settlement. If you say that you merely “want” $25,000 for your injuries, the lack of strength in your words can be used against you. In your personal injury case, communicate what you need to cover lost income, medical care, pain and suffering, and anything else.
Cite Past Jury Verdicts to the Adjuster
If you are communicating with the insurance adjusters handling your claim, find past jury verdicts for cases that you can cite to them to influence their decision on your settlement amount. Doing this research may seem tedious, but it’s worth it. It can help you have a better sense of what to expect and push the adjuster’s offer up.
It’s a good idea to ensure that the cases you cite are similar to yours. An 18-wheeler accident that disabled someone for life may not be the best comparison to a fender bender that broke your wrist, for example. Your situation should be taken seriously, but it’s a mistake to over-inflate your case with a bad comparison.
Make Sure Your Doctor Takes Your Injuries Seriously
One other important consideration is the way your doctor handles your injuries. Some doctors can be overly nonchalant about how they approach certain injuries. As a result, they may use language or numbers that can undermine the value of your personal injury lawsuit and keep you from a fair settlement and maximum compensation.
If you suspect a doctor isn’t taking your case seriously enough, make more medical appointments to get other opinions. You might be surprised at the discrepancy between how two different medical professionals approach your injury. Your lawyer or law firm can also help guide you in this area.
Get Professional Legal and Medical Advice from 1800 Ask Gary
If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver and are unsure of what to do next, contact 1-800-Ask-Gary today to contact legal and medical professionals who can help. Their advice can ultimately make the difference between just getting by and getting everything you deserve and more for the damages you’ve suffered.