Under the law, victims of serious accidents should be fully compensated for their injuries. Unfortunately, insurance companies and defense attorneys will take every possible measure to pay as little compensation as possible to you, no matter how serious or life-altering your injuries may be.
At Lehmbecker Law, we know firsthand just how much serious injuries can truly cost a person and their loved ones. We are fully committed to working with our clients to help them secure the largest recovery possible. Decades of experience seeking compensation for our clients’ injuries has helped us identify these five key tips for negotiating and receiving the best results.
1. Don’t be in a hurry. Right after your injury, some insurance adjusters may immediately offer an amount to settle your claim. However, many times the full extent of injuries and losses are not known for several months. Therefore, it’s not advisable to settle your claim until you are certain you know what the future holds for your recovery.
2. Don’t accept first offers. Insurance adjusters usually offer much less than the fair value of a claim. They know most people don’t know how to value a personal injury claim. Arriving at a fair settlement usually requires a negotiation process, with both sides providing the reasoning behind their proposed settlement values and amounts. Sometimes an insurance adjuster will make a low ball offer and simply refuse to increase it short of facing a lawsuit. Always seek the advice of an attorney before accepting any final offers. Our attorneys can tell you whether an offer is reasonable, and whether your case is one in which it makes sense to file a lawsuit.
3. Make sure you have good documentation of life impacts and any economic losses, like lost wages or out-of-pocket expenses. Insurance companies will never take your word for any aspect of your claim. You must have contemporaneous documentation. Your pain and suffering and the impact on your quality of life are often the biggest part of your claim, entitling you to substantial compensation. Therefore, it’s wise to keep a calendar or even better a daily diary to record how you feel after your injury and to keep track of any missed activities or work.
If you do miss any work, make sure your physician provides you a note to document that you are certifiably unable to perform your job. You also need to keep receipts of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as prescriptions, housekeeping or yard work assistance. All of this information will be used to build your insurance demand.
4. Always promptly follow through with medical treatment recommendations. In personal injury law, you have a duty to “mitigate your damages.” This means that you must take reasonable action to minimize the effects and losses from your injury.
If you fail to promptly follow through with recommended medical treatment, the insurance company may claim that you made your injuries worse by failing to follow your doctor’s recommendations.
On the other hand, if you feel a treatment has been recommended by your doctor that doesn’t make sense for you, (or you’ve been trying a treatment and it isn’t helping), it may be appropriate for you to turn it down. If this is the case, you should ensure your physician documents your choice as reasonable by making a note in your medical record/chart.
5. Hire an attorney early. As you can see from this article, there is a lot that goes into making sure you get the best recovery in a personal injury claim. While you can theoretically process and negotiate a personal injury claim on your own, trying to keep track of all the things that need to be documented and addressed is demanding, and most people will be better off getting professional help.
Also, without an experienced attorney on your side, an insurance company may never take you seriously enough to make a fair settlement offer—even if you do a good job of documenting your claim.
In order to increase the odds of receiving the largest settlement possible, contact Lehmbecker Law as soon after sustaining an injury as possible to begin building your claim. We will identify and gather all the appropriate evidence for your claim to secure you the best possible compensation.