When it comes to making an injury claim, it is natural to want maximum compensation.
While there are limits as to what you can collect, it is your right to receive compensation for your losses – including any future medical costs you might endure. There are steps you can take to increase the settlement value – and it often revolves around documentation and evidence preservation.
In addition to the evidence and documentation, hiring a qualified personal injury attorney is critical.
No matter where you are post-injury, it is always in your best interest to speak with a lawyer and explore your options. Furthermore, an attorney can provide you with guidance that can help you increase your settlement and ensure that you do not do anything detrimental to your case.
If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, slip, and fall, medical malpractice incident or another accident caused by someone’s negligence, there are steps you can take to increase settlement value.
The most important step for any personal injury attorney is ensuring your case sets itself apart from the pack.
Insurance companies have standardized settlement values; therefore, they receive an accident claim and use their charts to pick standard compensation. To avoid receiving the standard, your attorney works to set your case apart from the rest.
Your attorney convinces the attorney or adjuster that your case is unique, and therefore the settlement value is equally unique.
Furthermore, your injury attorney knows that insurance companies often use proprietary software to create set values. These programs utilize modifiers that take damages you claim and multiply them to come to an offer amount. Naturally, these do not apply to everyone, because there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.
Your personal injury lawyer knows this and will work to ensure the company does not apply the modifier and software in your case through a preponderance of evidence and other details.
While it might sound curt, the fact is that juries award better settlements to plaintiffs they like to relate to and feel are honest.
So, your attorney will do everything he or she can to present your “goodness.” Not only will your attorney ensures statements are accurate, but encourage early depositions to show the defense your character, use witnesses that testify to your honesty, and so forth.
Defendants in a personal injury case are not typically caught off guard.
Insurance companies and businesses need to control their risks. Therefore, once your attorney convinces them that your case is a high risk one, the insurance company will evaluate it at a higher settlement than they would a low-risk case.
How does an attorney prove risk?
Start the discovery early. Get depositions moving quickly, and not be afraid to share evidence. The more likely a case is to have a high settlement, the more reserves that insurer sets aside when they head to mediation. For you, the plaintiff, that means they are more likely to settle with the maximum to avoid a higher valued settlement coming back from a jury.
Your injury claims attorney will also do everything possible to ensure there are no gaps in your evidence.
When you claim an injury, your attorney will objectify and prove those through multiple means. Not only will he or she obtain physician testimony and reports, but often request that your doctor orders an MRI, CT scan or another diagnostic test that can be used as physical evidence of your injuries.
While the testimony of a neurosurgeon stating you have a traumatic brain injury is powerful, having PET scans and MRI scans proving those injuries along with his or her testimony is even more powerful.
For any emotional or mental trauma, a psychologist should perform an in-depth assessment, including the MMPI and MCMI, which help objectify injuries.
There is also the issue of future problems. Your attorney will ensure that your physician can establish the permanence or longevity of your injuries and any treatments you might require in the future. When you have injuries that are long-term, it is a high-risk issue for insurance companies. Furthermore, when you have objectified the long-term injuries in court, the jury is more likely to award you the settlement you deserve.
One highly scrutinized issue for claims is the estimate of future therapies.
To keep it from becoming an issue in your case, your attorney will work to prove all future treatment amounts and needs are justified. For example, if you will need physical therapy once a day for the next year, your attorney will ensure that the therapist and your physician have adequate evidence proving your request is necessary for your recovery.
Naturally, you must also do your due diligence to ensure all future treatments are accounted for. After you accept a settlement, you cannot go back to the insurer two years from now and request more compensation for your treatment costs. So, it is imperative that your attorney receives not only legitimate claims but true costs analysis so that you are adequately compensated.
Surprisingly, the character of the accused plays a role in your compensation amount. A defendant that the jury does not like often pays more – especially when their actions are unacceptable.
To do this, your attorney will put extra emphasis on the negligent acts or misconduct of the defendant. Some examples include:
One of the first steps your attorney takes when they start your case is a demand letter. The demand letter is sent to the company or insurer long before an actual complaint is filed with the courts.
The demand letter is also your introduction to the defendant and gives him or her an impression about the case’s value.
To make an impact during this initial step, your attorney will:
Discovery is a time for both sides to share evidence and conduct depositions.
A good attorney takes advantage of this time by performing an in-depth discovery phase. Furthermore, this establishes your lawyer’s aggressiveness and credibility to the insurance company – proving they are willing to go the distance to get a maximum settlement.
Discovery phases include:
The settlement conference or mediation brief is critical.
This document is an opportunity for the defendant to consider once again what the plaintiff has, and the value of the case. In this brief, your attorney will give away any information necessary to increase settlement, but without showing his or her hand.
Your attorney might present the strengths of your case and even concede some of the weaknesses. However, the goal of this brief is to position your case at the top by showing that your attorney has conducted an in-depth analysis and knows the outcome likely if your case went to court.
Most importantly, your attorney stays in continuous contact with you during the claims process.
He or she gathers information about costs, how you are doing with your recovery, losses, and the emotional struggle. They get to know you and your case so that they can better predict your compensation value. Every hurdle you face in your recovery they note, and every penny you spend on healthcare, in-home nursing, and lost wages they account for to ensure nothing is omitted.
To take control of your situation and increase the chances of a high, fair settlement, contact an attorney.
An accident and injury claims attorney goes through these complicated steps to help secure the compensation you deserve. Furthermore, they are your advocate and fight for your rights.