You can do multiple things to maximize your personal injury settlement, such as keeping careful records and meeting important case deadlines. You also want to know how to avoid getting the amount of your financial recovery reduced. If you do not know these techniques, you could well end up with less money in your pocket after the settlement or court award.
If you got hurt in an accident that was not your fault, you probably have a compensation claim against the liability insurance carrier of the party who caused the accident that injured you. For this article, we will refer to car accidents, but the same principles apply to other personal injury cases, like slip and fall, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and other personal injury claims.
Document the Accident Scene
You will want to have the police come to the crash scene, investigate the accident, and write a report. Otherwise, it will be your word against that of the other driver. When there is no police report, some people do not hesitate to lie about what happened. You do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars of expenses for an accident that was not your fault.
Be sure to jot down the license plate number, make, model, and color of the other vehicle in case they leave the accident scene before the police arrive. You will want to take photographs of both vehicles from every side. Also, you should take pictures of anything at the scene that could have contributed to the crash, all damage to vehicles and other property, and your injuries.
Get Medical Treatment Immediately
Wounds have the greatest likelihood of an optimal healing outcome with prompt medical attention. In addition, your medical records will be essential evidence that links your injuries to the accident and establishes the extent and severity of your wounds.
Preserve the Evidence for Your Case
Document all damage to your vehicle. If your car got totaled, do not let the insurance company send it to the scrap yard. You might want to sue the manufacturer if the crash happened because of a defective part or design flaw.
Include All Your Losses in Your Claim
After you settle your case or receive a court-ordered award, you cannot ask for more money. If you expect additional medical intervention, like surgery or physical therapy, you should include an estimate from the doctor of the expected cost of those healthcare services.
Now, let’s look at a few suggestions to avoid your settlement getting reduced.
Do Not Miss Your Injury Case’s Filing Deadline
Your state will limit the time you have to file a lawsuit that seeks compensation for your injuries and other losses from the at-fault party. After the filing deadline passes, that party will not have any liability for the harm they caused you. Your right to go after financial damages expires when the statute of limitations expires.
For example, in California, state law requires that you file your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit within two years, according to CCP § 335.1, if your claim did not settle. If your case is against a government agency, you could have only six months or less to file an administrative claim under GOV § 911.2. Your state’s deadlines for suing a private party or government agency could be different.
Do Not Give a Recorded Statement
People often receive a request from the claims adjuster to give a recorded statement after they file a personal injury claim. The claims adjuster will tell you that the recorded statement is your opportunity to tell your side of the story. In reality, the adjuster can take the transcript of the recording and “cherry-pick” it and use parts of what you said against you.
If you work with a personal injury lawyer on your claim, they can give the insurance company the information it needs to resolve the claim without recording a statement from you.
Do Not Sign Anything Without Having a Lawyer Read It First
The insurance company has teams of lawyers who write the release, settlement agreement, waiver, and any other documents they want you to sign when you settle your claim. They will not let you have the settlement check until they get your signature.
To protect your rights and prevent the insurance company from having you sign away more of your rights than they should, you should have a lawyer review these documents before you sign them.
Stay Off Social Media
If your personal injury claim is pending, the insurance company could access your social media accounts. It can scroll through your photos and posts, looking for any reason to pay you less money or deny your claim. An insurer could even use something unrelated to the accident or your injuries against you.
For example, a photo of you smiling and looking happy with friends or family could prompt an insurer to say you are not in as much pain as you claim in your injury case. Taking a break from social media is best until you resolve your case. Also, you might ask your friends and family not to post anything about the accident, your injuries, or your claim.
Call Greenberg Gross for Help With a Personal Injury Settlement
We hope you find these few suggestions useful to help you maximize your personal injury settlement. The personal injury lawyers at Greenberg Gross would be happy to talk to you about your personal injury case.