How to Maximize Your Case Value in a Personal Injury Claim
Like many personal injury cases, your claim may be resolved through a settlement. This is especially true if there is no dispute about liability, or legal responsibility, for an accident that has harmed you.
However, before your case can reach the settlement stage, you will need to submit a demand for an amount from the other party’s insurance company. To make a proper demand, you will need to determine the value of your case.
If you submit a demand amount that is too low, you will not receive the compensation you need to cover all of your losses. If you ask for a settlement figure that is unreasonably high, the other party will likely reject your demand and may insist on taking your case to trial.
Your goal should be to recover the maximum value for your case. This involves more than simply writing down a dollar figure on a piece of paper and handing it to the insurance company. It requires taking steps that will support the amount of compensation you are seeking. It also requires avoiding pitfalls that can harm your case.
As you will see when going through the personal injury claims process, the skills, knowledge and resources of an experienced Texas personal injury attorney can play an invaluable role.
Can Mistakes Hurt Your Ability to Collect Full Compensation?
Many personal injury victims fail to realize that their actions after an accident can potentially have a significant and detrimental impact on their case’s value.
Never admit fault for an accident and the injuries you have suffered.
When you are at an accident scene, you may feel the urge to apologize for what has happened or say you are sorry for the trouble that has been caused. However, you have to be careful about what you say. Any spontaneous statement you make could – and likely will – be used against you by the insurance company.
The reality is that you will not know who is truly at fault in an accident until after there has been a comprehensive investigation conducted, and accident reconstruction experts have been given the opportunity to analyze the evidence and render an opinion.
So, if you are interviewed by a police officer at a car accident scene or by a store manager or investigator at the site of a slip and fall accident, just tell them what happened to you. Do not admit fault. Do not assign blame. Stick to the facts.
Never fail to follow your doctor’s orders.
After any accident, you should seek a medical evaluation. You should do this even if you do not think you are injured. You may be unaware that you have suffered traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or soft tissue damage. Unlike a fracture, cut or burn, these injuries are not readily apparent – but they can be very serious.
It is equally important that you follow your doctor’s advice and treatment plan. For instance, if your doctor recommends that you take a prescription painkiller two times a day, take that prescription painkiller twice a day. If your doctor recommends that you rest for two weeks before returning to work, do not return to work until two weeks have passed or until your doctor has cleared you to return.
If you fail to follow your doctor’s orders, the insurance company may portray you as careless and contend that your actions have contributed to your injuries and pain and suffering. The insurance company may also use your failure to follow your treatment plan as evidence that the severity of your injuries is not as significant as you claim. In turn, the insurance company would try to minimize your compensation.
Never fail to take action on a personal injury claim.
You have only a limited amount of time after an accident in which to file a personal injury claim in Texas. The longer you wait to seek out an attorney’s help in pursuing a personal injury claim, the less valuable your case could become.
This is because the at-fault party and his or her insurance company will know your time to file your case is running out and will take advantage of it.
Remember: If the “clock” runs out, and you still haven’t filed a lawsuit, the at-fault party may not be held responsible for any of the expenses or other damages attributable to your accident.
Never try to resolve your case without a lawyer’s help.
Presenting a personal injury claim to an insurance company is a matter of telling your side of the story. However, you want to make sure that story is told as professionally as possible.
Without a lawyer’s help, for instance, you may go into a settlement negotiation without a carefully prepared demand. You may fail to itemize all of the damages you have suffered and provide evidence to support those damages. A lawyer will help you to avoid such a costly mistake.
Why Should You Work with a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Just as there are actions you can take that can hinder your ability to obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries and losses, there are positive actions you can take which can have the opposite effect.
By far, one of the best steps you can take to properly value your case and give yourself the best opportunity to recover the compensation you need is to hire an experienced attorney to assist you in preparing and presenting your case.
Reasons to work with an attorney include:
You must be able to prove your economic and non-economic losses.
If you receive compensation, it will not be merely because you showed that another party caused your accident and injuries. You must also show that the amount of damages you are requesting is reasonable and appropriate given the extent of your losses.
For example, you cannot request $200,000 in compensation when you can only prove $100,000 in accident-related damages.
An attorney has the experience necessary to identify the losses and expenses that can be tied to an accident. A lawyer is also equipped with the skills necessary to help you to place a value on hard-to-quantify losses such as pain and suffering.
You must be able to present evidence in support of your requested damages.
An insurance company would likely reject any claim for a specific amount of damages if you present no evidence in support of that amount.
For instance, let’s say you have requested $50,000 in damages for the loss of enjoyment of life. Do you know the evidence you need to back up this amount?
An experienced personal injury lawyer has this knowledge and can help you to locate, gather and present the evidence you need to support the damages you are seeking to recover.
You must be ready to take your case to court.
In many cases, a personal injury claim can be resolved without the need to file a lawsuit or take a case to court. However, if an insurance company refuses to make a settlement offer that will fully and fairly compensate you for the harm you have suffered, it may be necessary to go forward with litigation.
An attorney will know how to file your lawsuit, or complaint, in the proper court and go through the pre-trial process. For instance, before your case goes to a trial, motions may need to be filed. Also, you will go through a formal evidence-gathering process called discovery.
At trial, a lawyer will know what evidence to present, how to examine witnesses and present the strongest case possible to the judge or jury who will decide your case. (In some cases, a trial may focus on both liability and damages or on damages only). Additionally, a lawyer can handle any post-trial issues that arise such as appeals.
Generally speaking, when an insurance company knows that you are serious about taking a case to court, it will be more likely to agree to a reasonable settlement of your personal injury claim.
How Can You Help Your Personal Injury Attorney?
When you work with a personal injury lawyer on your case, you can improve your chances of collecting just compensation by being a “team player.” In other words, you can take many steps to help your attorney to establish your case. These steps include:
Be completely honest about your losses.
You should never lie or exaggerate about the injuries you have suffered. By that same token, you should never downplay them, either.
For instance, don’t hide from your attorney the fact that you have sudden and severe panic attacks while driving or that you have been unable to sleep soundly since your injury occurred. You should never worry about being seen as “weak” or feel embarrassed about the difficulties and hardships you have experienced since your accident occurred.
If you minimize your struggles and difficulties or do not admit to having any pain or anguish, your attorney won’t know to investigate and pursue compensation for that particular loss.
Similarly, your attorney will not know to seek future medical expenses, home health care costs or loss of future income if you do not fully share the extent of your injuries with him or her.
Share all documents and information with your attorney.
You only have a limited time in which to prepare your case. The evidence you present at settlement negotiations or at trial will be the evidence used to determine the compensation you will receive.
To get the most out of the short amount of time you have to prepare your case, proactively share information and documents with your attorney. These documents include:
- Police accident report
- Medical bills
- Wage statements
- Attendance reports from your employer
- Statements from your insurance company
- Medical records
- Repair estimates.
Share these documents with your attorney as soon as you receive them. Make copies as well.
Help your lawyer to identify witnesses.
You should provide your lawyer with names and contact information of any persons who witnessed you suffer an accident and injuries. These could be passengers in your car, other motorists who stopped at the crash scene, co-workers, store employees or others.
Additionally, for non-economic damages like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, you should provide your attorney with a list of individuals who have seen you since the accident and can testify as to how your injuries have affected your daily activities.
In addition to family members, you should focus on witnesses who may appear to be less biased. For example, an employer could provide insight on whether you are able to continue to do the same work you did before the accident.
Stay away from social media.
In recent years, insurance companies have started mining social media sites to find information about personal injury claimants. For this reason, you should never discuss your accident, your injuries or your legal case on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site.
Additionally, an insurance company may take anything you post on social media and take it out of context. For instance, if you post a photo of yourself at a party or at a ballgame, the insurance company may use it to argue that your injuries have not affected you as badly as you claim.
This is why we often encourage our clients to simply stay away from social media while a case is pending.
Get Help Today from an Experienced Texas Personal Injury Lawyer
Some people fail to hire an attorney to help with their personal injury claim because they are concerned about the ability to pay for his or her legal services.
You won’t have this concern when you contact Tate Law Offices.
We will represent you on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will pay no costs or legal fees unless we obtain compensation for you.
Additionally, you can count on us to do everything possible to maximize your financial recovery. We will work hard to pursue the compensation you deserve.
We will devote our time and resources to understanding the true extent of your pain, your suffering and your expenses so that we can aggressively seek a financial recovery for you.
We serve clients in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and across Texas. Contact us today by phone or online to get started with a free and confidential consultation.