You were on a weekend drive with your family. The weather was good and it was going well, till that drunk driver smashed his vehicle into yours. This is a common scene across the country. There were 52,274 car crashes in 2017.
Although personal injury covers medical animal bites, malpractices, defective products, slip & falls; car crashes are the major contributor to personal injuries. Whatever may be the cause, you must get compensation. The question is how to get that? You are left with only two options: either negotiate it or file a lawsuit.
This blog gives you the necessary insights to get the compensation you deserve.
Claim Negotiations Versus Filing Lawsuits
These are two distinctly different ways of getting personal injury compensation. This covers
- All medical expenses
- Therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Cost of damaged personal items
- Loss of wages
- compensation for pain and suffering
A claim means the process of getting compensation for the personal injuries suffered. It involves filing the claim and negotiations between you and the insurance company for settlement. This generally happens between you or your attorney and the claim adjustor of the insurer.
Sometimes it is not possible to reach a settlement with the insurance company. It could be due to several reasons like
- Denial of the claim
- Not agreeing to the severity of the injury
- Non-acceptance of the amount of compensation
In such cases, a person has no other way than to file a lawsuit for compensation.
All the states have state personal injury laws. These tell when you may file a personal injury lawsuit and how much you can get as a settlement. As such, only the state personal injury lawyers near you are the best for settling claims. You should hire one of the top 10 personal injury lawyers in the state. They know the local rules, damage caps, and limitation statutes and can provide the best guidance.
When to negotiate the claim and when to file a lawsuit – that’s a really big decision. Being in a lawsuit is like playing chess. You have to think of moves ahead of the opponent for winning the legal battle.
Negotiation has no right or wrong time. You can start it anytime depending on your strategy and motive of the other party. This requires great negotiation skills and an experienced attorney is the best for the job.
Many people have a tendency to rush for litigation without serious negotiation. This involves them in unnecessary legal fees and other charges.
But, your attorney will never do that. He will first file a demand on his letterhead. This will include everything you hope to get through a lawsuit. In the majority of the instances, the insurance companies offer to negotiate. If their offer differs very much with the claim, the attorney makes a counterproposal. He also explores all ways to reach a settlement before opting for a lawsuit.
Claiming Personal Injury Damages
It starts after a person suffers physical injuries and/or property damage due to other’s negligence. In case of car accidents, this ultimately goes to the auto insurer of the driver at fault. The victim issues notice to the insurance company and files the claim as early as possible.
Do not demand compensation or start negotiation until you recovered fully. You have to send a demand letter giving the details of injuries and all expenses with supportive evidence. The insurer may investigate the claim by spot visit, reviewing the police report, speaking to the witness and scrutinizing the medical expenses.
After this, the claim adjuster may decide to pay the amount or reject it. In most of the cases, he follows the middle path.
Filing the Lawsuit
You require filing a lawsuit when efforts for reasonable settlement fail. You may file it anytime from the day one of suffering the injuries. You have to file it against the party at fault and not the insurance company. However, it is better to treat this as the last resort.
You may consider filing a lawsuit for
- Head injury
- Brain injury
- Spine injury
- Eye injury
- Burn injury
- Birth injury
- Wrongful death
It starts as you file a claim in the local court and the defendant receives a copy of the lawsuit. Two things can happen after this. The defendant may approach for settlement or he may file his reply and contest. In some cases, the mediators and arbitrators also help for settlement.
Never let your ego lead you into refusing an offer for settlement. You must consider the legal charges, court fees, and the paramount stresses involved.
Strictly Follow the Statutes of Limitations
The statutes of limitation describe the time available to settle the claim by negotiation. If you have to file a lawsuit, you have to do so within this specific time limit. Once this is over, you forfeit the right to sue the party at fault. Be sure to follow the laws for making claims.
Check for No-fault Claims
There are many states with no-fault insurance laws. In such states, the insurance companies offer personal injury protection (PIP) coverage on the insurance. It covers medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, etc. But this does not cover property damages.
Is It Possible to Negotiate Without a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you are prepared to handle legal matters, you can opt for self-representation. Sometimes, people have a minor injury with clear-cut evidence of the other party’s fault. You can save on legal fees by self negotiation in such cases.
Slip and fall cases in a store are ideal examples. But if you have a major car accident and suffer serious physical injuries, and undergo expensive treatments, it is better to hire an attorney.
Negotiating a claim is always preferable. This is because personal injury lawsuits pose many challenges. Therefore, it is best to hire a personal injury lawyer. He can negotiate the claim and can also go for a lawsuit depending on the merit of the case. This puts you in a win-win situation.