Insurance companies and their adjusters often make low initial settlement offers in personal injury cases involving car crashes and premises accidents. Insurance companies take these steps because they want to see if the accident victim is in a hurry to resolve their claim. That way, the insurance company can finish the claim quickly and cheaply.
In fact, settling claims out of court is usually the preferable course of action for insurance companies. This is because companies want to avoid the time and significant costs associated with litigation. After all, paying for legal counsel to represent them in a personal injury case is not free, and lawyer fees can mount up very quickly. Insurance companies can avoid some of these costs by trying to settle personal injury claims out of court with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
Despite what insurance companies say in their advertisements and promotional materials, they are not interested in offering accident victims the fair monetary compensation they deserve for their injuries. On the contrary, insurance companies are only interested in safeguarding their bottom line and saving themselves as much money as possible. They do this by denying personal injury claims and limiting the payouts they make to accident victims.
The Basis for a Negligence Claim
Personal injury claims and lawsuits originate from a negligent act of some kind. Negligence can take different forms, but in all cases, negligence involves an individual or entity behaving unreasonably under the circumstances.
For example, when slip-and-fall accidents occur on someone else’s premises, they may result from negligence on the premises owner’s part. The property owner might have failed to install safety lights, clean up a spill, or repair a hazardous condition on the property within a reasonable period.
Similarly, in a motor vehicle accident, a driver may have gotten behind the wheel after having had too much to drink, negligently losing control over their car and causing a collision with another vehicle.
Some of the most common accidents in areas that lead to personal injury claims and lawsuits include a slip-and-fall accident that occurs on someone else’s premises; negligent security incidents that result from a lack of adequate security presence or security cameras on the property; motor vehicle crashes that involve cars, trucks, bicycles, or motorcycles; pedestrian accidents; and construction site accidents, where a supervisor or contractor fails to ensure that the work environment is safe at all times.
Suppose you believe you might be eligible to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit arising from your accident. In that case, you should talk with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Alberta immediately. A local lawyer can sit down with you and discuss the circumstances leading up to your accident. Your lawyer can also determine if you are eligible to file a claim or lawsuit that seeks monetary compensation for your injuries.
Proving the Legal Elements of a Negligence Claim or Lawsuit
For an accident victim to receive settlement compensation from the insurance company or a favorable jury verdict or binding arbitration award, they will need to successfully demonstrate the legal elements of their claim.
First, they must show that the party who caused the accident owed them a legal duty of care. For example, in the context of a property accident, premises owners owe duties of reasonable care to property visitors, depending upon the visitor’s status on the property at a given time.
In addition to showing a duty of care on the responsible party’s part, an accident victim must demonstrate that the responsible party violated their duty of care, which in turn caused the subsequent accident.
Finally, an accident victim must show that they suffered physical injuries in their accident due to the at-fault party’s negligence.
Proving these legal elements in recovering settlement compensation in your personal injury claim can be difficult. This is because insurance companies and their adjusters often challenge accident victims and their lawyers every step of the way. Insurance companies will try to find fault with the case and deny, or at least limit, the monetary payout that an accident victim deserves.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can advocate for you and help you maximize the settlement compensation you receive for your injuries in your accident.
Which Insurance Company Will I Deal With?
In most instances, following an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you and your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company for the at-fault individual or entity. We call these types of personal injury claims third-party claims.
However, in the context of a motor vehicle crash, the circumstances might be different. For example, if the at-fault driver in your accident did not have any motor vehicle insurance coverage or they lacked sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries, you may need to turn to your own insurance company. We call these types of claims first-party claims.
If the at-fault driver had no motor vehicle insurance whatsoever, you can file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company or pursue recovery through the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program (MVAC). Similarly, if the at-fault driver had insurance, but it was not sufficient to compensate you for your injuries and other losses, you can pursue an underinsured motorist claim with your own insurer.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer near you can explain all of your legal options and potential avenues of monetary recovery. They can then take the necessary legal action on your behalf and open a personal injury claim with the appropriate insurance company.
How to Get a Personal Injury Claim Going
The first step to recovering monetary compensation after an accident is to begin a personal injury claim. The two main components of a personal injury claim are filing a settlement demand letter and a settlement demand package. A personal injury lawyer in your area can help you assemble both of these documents and send them to the appropriate insurance carrier on your behalf.
A settlement demand letter makes an initial monetary demand for settlement within the available insurance policy limits of coverage. In a severe accident case where an accident victim suffers a permanent disability or a disfiguring injury, the accident victim’s opening demand may be the total limits of the available insurance policy.
Along with the settlement demand letter, your lawyer can send a complete settlement demand package that includes copies of essential documents in your case, which the insurance company adjuster will use for evaluation purposes.
Those documents may include:
- A copy of the police report or investigation report prepared about the accident
- A personal statement from the accident victim that explains the overall effects that the accident had on their quality of life and overall well-being
- Copies of witness statements, photographs of property damage, photographs of the incident scene, photographs of physical injuries that the accident victim suffered, copies of all related medical records, copies of tax returns for previous years, and lost wage statements from the accident victim’s employer if they are claiming that they lost income due to their injuries
An insurance company adjuster will then use all of this information to evaluate your claim and determine the claim’s value. Keep in mind that initial offers from insurance companies are typically far below the claim’s total worth. Therefore, it will usually take your lawyer several rounds of negotiations with the insurance company adjuster before reaching a settlement number that is worth considering.
Your lawyer can assist you with every step of the claims-filing process to ensure that you receive favorable settlement compensation that genuinely makes you whole again after your accident.
What Happens During the Litigation Stage of a Personal Injury Case?
- The litigation stage of a personal injury case begins when a lawyer files a lawsuit in the court system for monetary damages. After filing suit in the case, the following will usually take place:
- The parties will answer one another’s written questions (called interrogatories) so that they can learn more about the opposing side’s version of the case.
- The defense lawyer will take the accident victim’s deposition, at which time the accident victim will answer questions about how the incident occurred, the injuries they suffered, the medical treatment they underwent, the pain and suffering they endured, and the overall effect of the accident on their life.
- The parties will attend one or more settlement conferences with the court in an attempt to resolve the case favorably.
If the case still does not resolve at some point during the litigation process, the parties have several options. First, they can take their case to a jury trial and allow the jury to evaluate and decide all disputed issues. In most instances, it will be the jury that determines the types and amounts of monetary compensation to award the injured individual.
As an alternative to a jury trial, the parties may consider mediation or binding arbitration as a way of resolving their case outside the court system. A skilled personal injury lawyer in your area can help you make informed and intelligent decisions throughout the litigation and work to maximize your final monetary recovery.
What Is a Good Settlement Offer in a Personal Injury Case?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell whether a particular insurance company’s settlement offer is good or bad. A good settlement offer should compensate you fairly and fully for all of your injuries, losses, inconvenience, pain, and suffering.
Moreover, if you missed time from work after your accident, you should ensure that your lost wages are covered and that you receive the back pay you deserve. Finally, a good offer should compensate you for any permanent disability or disfigurement that you have suffered, as well as for your loss of life enjoyment, loss of the ability to use a body part, or loss of spousal companionship.
Your lawyer can help you determine whether you should consider accepting a particular settlement offer or continue litigating your case through the court system.
Call a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Insurance companies adjusters do not make matters easy for accident victims. On top of dealing with insurance companies, it is also essential to be aware of the statute of limitations deadline in your personal injury case. Accident victims who suffered injuries have only two years from their accident date to file a lawsuit in the court system. Otherwise, the statute of limitations will prevent them from recovering any monetary damages.
Given this relatively short window of time, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Edmonton to handle your case right away. Your lawyer can help you file the claim or lawsuit you need to see the settlement compensation you deserve. If the insurance company is unfair to you, your lawyer can represent you in court and pursue a favorable result at trial or binding arbitration.