If you have ever been victim of a car accident, you are aware of the frustration and uncertainty associated with the insurance claim process.
At the outset there is the claim involving the damage to your car. This is commonly referred to as the property damage claim. Most property damage claims can be settled directly with an insurance company adjuster because the fair value of the vehicle or the car repairs can be easily determined. However, in some property damage cases, legal consultation with a car accident attorney can be helpful to sort issues concerning release documents, title issues, rental car coverage, etc..
If you have suffered an injury as a direct result of a car accident, legal representation by an attorney is necessary in order to obtain a fair and full settlement of an injury claim. This is because injury victims are entitled to compensation for their medical treatment expense, lost income, pain, suffering, discomfort, disability, emotional damages, etc., and the calculation of the total claim value can be involved. Moreover, the legal and medical issues are complex which demands legal representation from a lawyer who concentrates in personal injury law.
Although nothing takes the place of talking to an injury attorney about your claim, following are several considerations to take into account.
First, it is important to realize that insurance company representatives and claim adjusters are not working for your best interests. Instead, claim adjusters are interested in “adjusting” your claim and paying you a “discounted settlement.” While the insurance company is contractually bound to protect their insured (usually the other driver), their ultimate goal is to settle the claim quickly and cheaply thereby saving their company thousands of dollars in claims settlements.
When an attorney is hired on behalf of the injured client, the client immediately gains leverage over the settlement process. What I mean by “leverage” is that a capable attorney can file the case in the proper court of law if the insurance company refuses to pay the full value of the claim. Over the years I have exercised this leverage and court litigation is one way I obtain full compensation for my injured clients.
However, it is important to note that, in most cases, before I file a lawsuit in an injury claim case, I attempt to fully exhaust settlement possibilities with the claim adjuster.
It has been my experience that most insurance company adjusters are well trained in the claim process and have a basic understanding of medical and rehabilitation treatments and procedures, including chiropractic treatment and physical therapy. Thus, in preparing the case for productive settlement negotiations we are diligent in putting together a package of investigative and medical documentation that establishes the full value of our client’s case. We take into account every aspect of our client’s daily life and the future prognosis.
All economic and non-economic aspects of the case must be considered and sometimes this requires expert opinion. We never lose sight of the longer-term aspects of a client’s injury, including the various ways the injury has effected our client’s quality of life. For instance, there are very few instances of injury to the head, neck, back, or extremities that do not impact my client’s future pain, suffering, discomfort, or their ability to work and enjoy life.
Factors relating to my client’s ability to work in their employment are also important. In many cases, my clients co-workers and/or supervisors have been very valuable in establishing my client’s pre-accident abilities in comparison to their ability to do their work after an accident. Because these type of “health witnesses” are not usually related to my client, co-workers make credible witnesses.
One final point. Over the years our clients have asked me to estimate how much their case is worth. In this regard, some have gotten the idea that their case is worth 3 or 4 times (or 5 times) the total medical expense. In my opinion this is a terrible way to evaluate any personal injury case. The case value is dependent on a number of different factors and total medical expense is only one factor that should be