After having to experience a car accident, which leaves many individuals scattered and overwhelmed, the first thing that comes to mind for many is, "Who is going to pay for my injuries?" Medical treatments can be expensive; you may end up missing a significant amount of work, and hiring help for household chores may become a necessity. Even if your accident seems minor, most injuries do not appear until days after an accident and can affect you for a lifetime if not properly addressed.
Once receiving proper medical care, hiring a car accident attorney is necessary to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive the settlement you deserve. The purpose of a settlement, and personal injury law in general, is to make the victim whole again. While this cannot always happen, a settlement should reflect what the injured party has had to endure,
What Should Happen After a Car Accident
A successful settlement is one in which both parties can negotiate positively, attempting a fair and equitable settlement. Your car accident attorney would ensure all medical treatments are performed, property damage corrected, and pain and suffering recompensed. Unfortunately, most insurance companies offer very low offers at first.
If a party is unrepresented, the insurance company tends to offer the unrepresented party less than if they were represented by counsel. While this is inherently unfair, it is all the more reason to secure a car accident attorney who knows your rights and what you are fairly entitled to.
Negotiation is Key
The settlement process is always a negotiation; there are no hard and firm amounts that cannot be negotiated. Your car accident attorney will start by asking the at-fault driver's insurance company what the other driver's policy limit is, that way, you and your car accident attorney know the maximum the insurance company has the ability to pay.
The negotiation process tends to take the longest in a personal injury case. Your car accident attorney will send to the insurance company updates on medical bills, current patient status, percentage of function, and days of lost work. As your case progresses, so too does the number of workdays lost, medical bills, etc. As these amounts get higher, the insurance company will have an incentive to settle sooner, before more costs are incurred.
Part of the negotiation of your case will include not only past costs, but also future costs. Your car accident attorney will emphasize your inability to go back to the job you worked at before the accident if that is the case. Additionally, there could be future medical bills, physical therapy, re-training to reenter the workforce, modified bodily function, and pain and suffering the injured party previously endured and may continue to sustain.
Another aspect of the negotiation is how your accident affects your home life. If you cannot do chores you once were able to, unable to drive your children to school, or participate in school activities, these are essential elements to point out during the process.
Lastly, if you have been seriously injured and/or suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the accident, your spouse may be able to claim loss of companionship during the time you were unable to fulfill your duty as a partner or spouse.
Evidence is very important in personal injury cases. Many insurance companies calculate the amount of the actual expense (medical bills, medical equipment, property damage) and multiply it by a number between 2-9 depending on how severe the injury. Making sure you document all costs associated with your personal injury case is a must.
Some costs that many injured parties forget are mileage to and from medical appointments, prescriptions, any over the counter medication or bandages, caregiver expenses, alterations to the house to accommodate the injury, and modifications required for employment (devices to work from home, internet, etc.).
The evidence your car accident attorney submits can determine the settlement of your case. While your skilled attorney will keep track of my of these types of evidence, it is always good to know what documentation you may need to provide. You can always ask your attorney if a certain expense needs to be included in the evidence to the insurance company.
Should You Go to Trial?
When receiving a low offer from an insurance company, it can feel devastating and frustrating. However, insurance companies are required to offer only a certain percentage of the settlement your attorney put together as a starting point. As discussed earlier, the settlement process takes place during the negotiation phase. While the insurance company's low settlement offer may make you feel like giving up, this is truly how the insurance companies want you to feel.
This is not to say that insurance companies are devious. They deal with cases every day and want to pay a fair settlement to those individuals that need it. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult for insurance companies to tell the genuinely injured from those trying to manipulate or defraud the system.
While it is natural to feel discouraged, remember this is a process that takes time at first. The best way to handle a frustrating system is to trust your personal injury attorney and know that they advocate on your behalf. The insurance company will likely see the evidence and documentation and eventually offer a settlement you and your attorney feel good about. It's important to remember less than 5% of personal injury cases end up going to trial.
Talk to a Qualified Car Accident Attorney to Get the Best Settlement
After receiving the medical care you need, contact the Law Offices of Jason R. Carpenter. The firm possesses strong advocacy skills and seeks the best possible settlement for its client. You can trust you are in good hands at this firm and know they are working hard on your case because to us, you are part of the Carpenter Law Firm family. You can reach the offices at (717) 537-0928