Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people. Whether a reckless driver crashed into you and broke your leg, a defective product burned you or someone under the influence attacked you at a party, it’s important to file a personal injury claim so you can recover from the situation financially as well as physically. Not only should you seek compensation, but the maximum amount possible.
Rule No. 1 is never admit fault, of course. But if you’ve never suffered a personal injury before, certain additional moves will allow you to get the best settlement you can. These include 1) documenting the evidence 2) hiring the appropriate lawyer and 3) sticking to a negotiating strategy.
The chances that you’ll come out of a personal injury case the winner depends on how much evidence you have, so it’s important to keep a record of everything that happened during the incident. Take photos of the cuts, bruises and other injuries and videos the capture all the physical evidence, such as of the immediate environment and any other visible damage done. Was there any evidence that an attacker may have left behind?
Collect witness statements using the voice memos your smartphone if possible and get their information. It’s best if you find an onlooker who took a video on their smartphone, clearly showing that you were not at fault — have them send it to you. Eventually you will also be collecting documents such as police reports and medical reports as well. Continue to keep a detailed journal of how the injuries have made your daily routine harder than usual, from getting around the house to doing your job at the office. Video recordings of these situations can also help.
Find the right lawyer
If there is a question of fault, if you suffered serious, life-changing injuries, or if thousands of dollars are at stake, it’s time to find an attorney. Especially if you’re new to the claims process, do not sign any documents or accept any apology money from an insurance company without consulting a lawyer first.
You may already know a lawyer, but do they specialize in personal injury cases? You’ll want someone who has experience navigating cases just like yours, so look for a local representative who works in the general proximity of the incident. As various lawyers focus on different types of injuries, approaching a firm with a variety of specialists might be the simplest way to go, such as these personal injury law firms in Mississauga for example.
The next step is to evaluate your potential attorney. When you present your story and evidence, not only should he or she be knowledgeable of your type of case and be able to estimate a settlement amount, but also be able to provide a range of possible outcomes. They should know how your particular injury might be handled by the insurance company depending on how it happened. If you have the evidence, a good lawyer should be able to get settlement that’s larger than you thought.
Use a “minimum” strategy
Once you go over the situation and evidence with your attorney, you’ll need to decide on the appropriate settlement minimum for the case. This is based on what you can prove and how well you can argue your case — with evidence as well as emotion-evoking storytelling that points out details both of your innocence and the severity of your consequent hardships. Stick to this limit when the insurance adjusters you meet with tries to negotiate a reduced settlement amount. Don’t reveal your own limit, and don’t go for the first offer they provide. Adjusters will often start low to discover whether you have done any research. With a well-informed bottom line set before you start discussions, you will have the confidence to go back and forth with adjusters until you are able to agree on a settlement that fits your needs.
Once the agreement is reached, get it confirmed in writing. Be sure to read all correspondence and documents over carefully with your attorney. Make sure nothing is missing that you previously discussed or something is included that wasn’t mentioned, such as releasing the other party from liability. Also be sure to adhere to any deadlines and keep copies of the agreement in case the insurance company looks for a way to provide less than their stated offer.
Keep these tips in mind so that you come out of a personal injury case with everything you’re owed and are better prepared for similar situations in the future.