A good financial settlement offer fully and fairly compensates an accident victim for all their injuries and other accident-related losses. Getting to this number, however, is often an uphill battle since insurance companies and their adjusters routinely make lowball offers.
This is especially common when accident victims do not have legal representation during their personal injury claims. Insurance company adjusters often assume that unrepresented individuals lack the legal knowledge and skills to effectively negotiate a fair settlement in their case.
Retaining a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to advocate for you during settlement negotiations is one of the most critical steps to take in your personal injury claim or lawsuit. Most personal injury lawyers know the tricks and tactics that insurance adjusters use to undervalue claims.
Your lawyer can combat these tactics by aggressively advocating with the insurance company settlement adjuster and highlighting the strengths of your individual case. Your lawyer can also help you determine whether you should accept a particular settlement offer or threaten the at-fault party’s insurance company with civil litigation.
If you then need to litigate your claim through the court system, your lawyer can assist you with every step of the process and represent you in all legal proceedings, including your discovery deposition, mediation, civil trial, or binding arbitration proceeding.
What is the Basis for Filing a Personal Injury Insurance Claim?
Personal injury claims arise when other individuals and entities behave in a negligent, careless, or reckless manner. In motor vehicle accidents, for example, a driver might disregard a traffic law, fail to pay attention, or operate their vehicle while intoxicated or drugged. At other times, premises owners might fail to repair a defective condition on their premises—such as a sidewalk or staircase—or warn about the dangerous situation, causing a property visitor to slip and fall.
Other personal injury claims arise when medical providers mistreat or misdiagnose their patients or when they perform a medical procedure improperly, causing new injuries and illnesses. Finally, some personal injury claims happen when defective merchandise burns or injures a consumer while they use the product correctly. In that instance, the consumer can bring a product liability claim against the product manufacturer, designer, or distributor, seeking monetary damages for their injuries.
Not all accidents will lead to personal injury claims. For example, an accident victim might be unable to establish one or more legal elements of their claim—or demonstrate that another individual or entity acted negligently under the circumstances.
An experienced personal injury lawyer in your area can help you determine your eligibility for filing a claim after reviewing the accident circumstances with you and reviewing police reports, eyewitness statements, and other potential evidence. If you are eligible to proceed with a claim, your lawyer can contact the insurance company for the at-fault party and begin the claims-filing and negotiation processes for you.
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What Types of Injuries Form the Basis of a Personal Injury Claim?
Accidents that involve negligence often lead to severe injuries for accident victims. Just as every accident scenario is different, so are the injuries that an accident victim ultimately suffers. Forceful accidents, including when an accident victim strikes a part of their body, often cause the most debilitating injuries.
Some common injuries that accident victims sustain include:
- Cuts, bruises, lacerations, and abrasions
- Soft tissue injuries, including whiplash injuries to the back and neck
- Fractures and broken bones
- Spinal cord damage, including full and partial paralysis
- Internal organ damage, such as from a crush injury
Once you receive the medical treatment you need for your accident-related injuries, your personal injury lawyer can help you pursue a reasonable settlement offer that provides you with fair compensation.
Who Has to Prove the Personal Injury Claims Legal Elements?
Although the accident victim is the one who suffers the injuries, they have the burden of proving each element of their claim or lawsuit. If they fail to prove even one legal element, they may not recover monetary damages in their case.
To recover a good settlement offer in their personal injury claim, the accident victim must first demonstrate that the responsible party owed them a legal duty of care. For example, property owners have an obligation to maintain their premises safe at all times and to repair—or at least warn others about—previously known and unknown hazardous conditions. On the other hand,car and truck operators must operate their vehicles carefully and follow all safety laws and regulations.
Next, to recover a reasonable financial settlement, the accident victim must show that the at-fault party breached their duty of care somehow. Depending upon the accident circumstances, this breach may involve violating a law or other regulation.
Moreover, the accident victim must show that the subject accident would not have occurred but for the responsible party’s negligent actions or inactions. In addition, they must show that the accident was foreseeable in light of the at-fault party’s carelessness and breach of the standard of care.
Finally, accident victims must show that they suffered at least one physical injury and that their injury directly resulted from the accident. Although the subject accident need not be the sole cause of an accident victim’s injury, it must be at least a cause of their injury.
To establish their legal burden in a personal entry case, accident victims may need to call upon one or more experts to testify, either at a deposition or courtroom jury trial. Some of the most common experts that personal injury lawyers use include accident reconstructionists and qualified medical professionals.
An accident reconstructionist uses various pieces of evidence to determine how an accident likely occurred and who caused the accident. Most accident reconstructionists make this determination by speaking with witnesses, talking to accident victims and other involved parties, reviewing police reports, and visiting the accident scene themselves.
Likewise, medical experts often draft opinions about medical causation in the accident victim’s case. These individuals may physically examine the accident victim, explain how an accident victim’s injuries likely resulted from the accident, and in some cases, state that the accident victim’s injuries will probably last a lifetime.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you retain the necessary experts in your case and help you satisfy your legal burden of proof. In addition, your lawyer can help you during settlement negotiations so that you are more likely to receive a favourable offer from the insurance company adjuster handling your case.
How do I Obtain a Good Settlement Offer?
The best way to obtain the fairest possible settlement offer in your personal injury case is to have a skilled lawyer negotiating for you each step of the way. Settlement negotiations typically occur when a lawyer makes an initial demand for settlement from the insurance company adjuster.
The adjuster then makes their initial settlement offer after reviewing essential documents in your case, like lost earnings statements from your employer, medical treatment records, permanency evaluations, injury photographs, and a victim impact statement that you prepare in advance.
In almost every personal injury claim or lawsuit, the adjuster’s initial settlement offer is far below the actual cash value. In fact, it may take two, three, or more rounds of negotiations before the case settles for a favourable amount of money. If the adjuster does not offer you fair damages, litigation may become necessary in your case.
The first step in the litigation process is for your lawyer to file a lawsuit in court. Once a lawsuit is pending in the court system, your lawyer—along with the settlement adjuster handling your claim—may continue their settlement negotiations up until the time of trial. During the process, your lawyer can help you decide whether a particular settlement offer is a “good” offer, given your case circumstances, or whether you should litigate your case in court.
Is there an Advantage to Filing a Lawsuit in my Personal Injury Case?
If the insurance company adjuster in charge of your claim will not offer you fair compensation, your lawyer may need to explore litigation options with you. When a lawyer files a lawsuit in court, the case can still settle at any point. Therefore, in many instances, the accident victim should file a lawsuit in their case, as this may garner a more favourable settlement result in the long run.
Moreover, the litigation process offers all parties an excellent opportunity to learn more about their respective versions of the case and gain a better understanding of how much money the claim is actually—and realistically—worth.
What Types of Monetary Damages Constitute a Good Settlement Offer?
Although monetary compensation can never replace a lost loved one or fix a severe injury, it can help an accident victim experience justice and closure to the greatest extent possible. A fair financial settlement in a personal injury claim is one that makes the accident victim whole again or returns them to their pre-accident state as much as possible.
Obviously, different accidents cause different injuries, and not all accident victims will recover the same types and amounts of monetary damages. Given the circumstances of a particular accident, a reasonable settlement offer should compensate the accident victim not only for their out-of-pocket expenses—like lost wages—but also for their inconvenience, mental distress, pain and suffering, and emotional anguish.
Lost earnings compensation is available when accident victims need to miss work time after their accident. They may be in too much pain to work in the days and weeks following their accident, or they may need to miss work to attend medical and physical therapy appointments.
When accident victims suffer serious injuries that prevent them from working at their current job, they may need to switch careers and take a pay cut. When that happens, they can bring a claim for loss of earning capacity.
Accident victims can also receive monetary damages for their emotional anguish and mental distress if they need to consult with a mental health provider—such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. They can also receive monetary damages for their lost life enjoyment stemming from the injuries they sustained in their accident.
Next, accident victims can recover monetary damages for their past and future inconvenience, suffering, and physical pain. They become eligible for these damages when they experience symptoms between the accident date and the present time. They can also receive future pain and suffering damages if they suffer a permanent injury, disfigurement, or impairment in their accident.
Not every type of damage is available to every accident victim. A skilled personal injury lawyer in your area can help you determine whether an insurance company’s settlement offer fairly and adequately compensates you for your losses. If not, your lawyer may continue their settlement negotiations with the insurance company and, if necessary, threaten the adjuster with personal injury litigation in the court system.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer in Your Area for Settlement Advice Today
If you sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you should call upon a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to represent you right away. According to the statute of limitations, an accident victim must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the accident date.
In almost all instances, this deadline is hard-and-fast, and very few exceptions apply. Therefore, if you do not file your lawsuit on time, it is very likely that the court will dismiss your case, and you will not receive any damages for your accident-related injuries.
A skilled personal injury lawyer can prevent the statute of limitations from running in your case by filing a timely lawsuit in court. Your lawyer may also continue their settlement negotiations in pursuit of a reasonable settlement offer that fairly compensates you.
If that settlement offer is not forthcoming within a reasonable time period, your lawyer can litigate your case at a mediation, civil trial or binding arbitration proceeding, introduce probative evidence on your behalf, and raise persuasive arguments in support of your entitlement to favourable monetary damages.