One of the first questions that a prospective client will ask us during the initial consultation is whether they have a strong case for financial compensation. Of course, the answer to that question depends on what we learn when we investigate your accident. The next question is invariably about how much money a claimant can receive for their injuries. The answer to that question always depends on you and your unique situation. Let our personal injury lawyers assess the legal specifics of your case.
Accident victims are fixated on their financial situation, and for a good reason. Money is almost always an issue after an accident injury. You are facing the perfect financial storm of money coming out of your account for accident-related expenses without money coming in from your job (assuming you had to miss work). You may face a long road to recover physically from your injuries and a long legal road to get the money you deserve, assuming you can prove that someone else was to blame for your accident and injuries.
You might file an injury claim if you were in an accident due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.
Some common incidents that lead to injuries and legal claims include:
Before you even consider how much your claim is worth, you must have proof that someone else should be liable. A personal injury attorney can assess potential liability for your injuries in your initial consultation.
Before you file your claim with the insurance company, you should understand precisely what your case is worth. This way, you are prepared to respond if they make you a low settlement offer that does not fairly pay you for your damages.
You can bet your last dollar that the insurance company knows the exact value of your case. Their goal is to make your case go away for as far less below the number as they can get away with, whether it means they deny your claim or make a low settlement offer. The insurance company wants to keep as much of its premiums as possible.
You will be unable to know the value of your claim on your own, leaving you to depend on the insurance company to compensate you fairly. Simply put, that will never happen, and it has not happened so long as insurance companies have been around. For most people, the time they file a claim is the first time they have dealt with an insurance company. A repeat claimant will undoubtedly know they need an attorney because they have seen firsthand how an insurance company operates.
Therefore, you will need an experienced attorney to help you learn the value of your claim. If you are figuring out how much you might receive, you may be so far off that it will be much greater than a rounding error.
You may only believe you deserve a fraction of what the defendant might owe you. Attorneys deal with personal claims daily, so they have seen diverse circumstances. They have the experience to know what some of your damages are worth. Most importantly, their knowledge will keep you from leaving money on the table.
To understand how the law will value your accident claim, you need to understand the concept behind personal injury damages. When someone else was responsible for your accident injuries, they assume a legal obligation to restore you to the position you were in before the accident. Although your health won’t return to what it was at the moment before the accident, the responsible party must use money as a means to compensate you.
Accident damages break down into several categories. Of course, compensating you for what you lost involves paying you back for the money that came out of your pocket because of the accident. You should also get paid for the financial opportunities you missed because of the accident.
A large part of your damages is the experience of the accident itself and the time afterward. An injury-causing accident is a traumatic experience that can impact you for the rest of your life. Not only are there physical effects, but you can also struggle to deal with the psychological impacts of the accident. All these are part of your injury because they represent something you lost because of the accident. You can get paid for the loss of your physical and psychological well-being.
With that in mind, here is what you may receive in a personal injury lawsuit:
There is a chance that you can get punitive damages based on the extent of the defendant’s negligence or recklessness. You will not get punitive damages in an insurance claim because the insurance company will not pay them in a settlement. The only way to get punitive damages (that can significantly increase the value of your case) is if a jury decides to award them. Punitive damages, however, are rare.
Your personal injury damages cover both what you have endured in the past between the time of the accident and the claim and how you will suffer in the future. You may wonder how you can know what your life will be like in the future. Accident victims cannot agree to a pay-as-you-go settlement with the responsible party. In other words, you must know how much money to seek, and you will bear the financial responsibility for any errors you make.
You will need an attorney now to help you place a value on your personal injury damages. You cannot trust the insurance company to pay you the money you deserve fairly.
An attorney will closely review your medical records and work with various experts to determine a number to seek when you file your claim. They will review your situation, knowing that two people may react differently to the same injury. A broken leg can merit more compensation when the claimant is active and engaged in physical labor that they cannot do after their injury.
Another difficulty in filing a personal injury claim is that a large part of your case depends on a subjective determination of your damages. Economic damages are easier to value because there are tangible measurements of how much you have lost, although the insurance company will still find a way to disagree.
Non-economic damages depend on your own experience in the wake of the accident. After all, there is a reason why it is called a “personal” injury. You are not the same as someone else, and the insurance company should not treat you like them.
The insurance company will try to take “you” out of the equation by using a more objective method to measure pain and suffering. They replace you with a number they come up with when looking at the severity of your injuries. The insurance company does not know what you are living with after the accident, nor do they care.
The best way that you can be heard and have your story told is to hire a personal injury lawyer. When the insurance company invariably tries to underestimate your subjective damages, your lawyer will fight for your rights to total compensation.
While lawyers always talk about the insurance company and its essential role in the settlement, this business only has so much power. When you have legal rights, you have power. The insurance company does not want you to know that. They want you to believe they can dictate how much you get in a settlement. That is entirely not true.
If you try to approach the insurance company on your own, they will overstate their own importance and power. Your attorney will explain that you have a degree of power over your settlement because they are your legal rights at stake.
Although your injury damages are not variable, what does vary is the determination that individual claimants bring into the settlement process. Some people (primarily those without a lawyer) may take what the insurance company gives them, happy just to get a check. The other happy party is the insurance company because they have just settled a potentially valuable claim for pennies on the dollar. For the insurance company, that margin represents additional profit.
You have the legal right to stand up when the settlement offer is too low and demand what you deserve. How hard you fight will directly impact the amount of money you get in a settlement. The most powerful word in your vocabulary when negotiating a settlement with the insurance company is no. You can and should reject an offer that does not appropriately compensate you for your full damages.
It is not easy to fight the insurance company on your own. Every part of the system they have established works to save them money at your expense. They have extensive infrastructure and tricks of the trade that they have honed over decades. One of their powerful tools is delaying your claim. The more they can drag out your claims process, the more likely you will take a below-value check to get the money in your hand and finish with the claims process.
Your primary safeguard against that trick is hiring a determined and experienced attorney who will handle the negotiation process and work for you to get more money.
Research shows that claimants who have hired lawyers do far better financially (even after paying a lawyer) than those who represent themselves. Your lawyer will work to maximize your settlement by helping you learn its value and fighting for every dollar you deserve.
In the end, you have some degree of control over the value of your claim because you are not obligated to continue pursuing the claims process if the insurance company is not reasonable. The ultimate decision maker in any personal injury case is a jury in a court of law. You can always file a lawsuit against the responsible party in court. Then, you will be dealing with their insurance company if they are handling the legal defense.
Most personal injury cases will settle, but you may need to go to trial to get the money you deserve. An experienced attorney can help you determine the best way to get the most compensation for your accident injury claim.