Say you’ve had the misfortune to be injured by someone else’s negligence. You need to get back up on your feet fast. Work calls. Bills do too. It’s imperative you maximize the amount of money in your settlement and receive it as quickly as possible. I am going to outline for you how to do exactly that.
Go for the Biggest Payout
It goes without saying that injuries take up more than time. Dallas Horton and Associates (gdallashorton.com) points out that there is also an emotional toll and a pile of medical bills, not to mention the never-ending legal battle. This is enough to make anyone lose their grip on reality. That said, it is important to maximize the benefit of everything you do. In regards to your personal injury claim, this involves several key points.
According to Avvo, two of the first things you should do involve the scene itself. The initial step is twofold. First, take photos and notes at the scene of the incident. Second, have the police fill out an official incident report. In addition, it is vital that you get witness details. Speak to anyone and everyone that was present. Avvo also suggests taking photos of any witnesses’ license plates. This may be necessary if they are not forthcoming about their personal info.
Contrary to what you may believe, Avvo has one tip that they cannot stress enough: Do not record your statement, and do not speak to an insurance company without your lawyer. They point out that insurance adjustors are only trying to pay the lowest amount. Your goals and their objectives are at odds with one another. With this in mind, you need to have all the facts straight and a trained professional to guide you.
All Law makes a very good point about settlements in general. They write, “Decide on a minimum settlement figure within [the] range that you would accept.” If you don’t have a number in mind, the first dollar sign you see might be tempting.
Beyond all this, you will also want to be mindful of doctor visits. If you are in pain, do not try toughing it out or failing to take medication. Avvo makes this point very clear. Someone (e.g., insurance) may “then accuse you of fraud due to you faking your injury”. Needless to say, this kind of damage to your case could be fatal. When it comes to doctors and medications, just do it.
Add to all this that your case may change over time. Take the example of an injury during a car crash. The initial pain might not be the worst part. After months of trauma, your body may be in even worse shape! As a result, Avvo recommends to keep a daily journal of your experience. How much pain are you having? Is it worse than yesterday? What helps or exacerbates the situation? Did you go to the doctor? Are you taking medication as prescribed?
Choose the Right Attorney
With all this in mind, you will likely also have an attorney helping you through the entire process. The choice of attorney, some would argue, is the most important decision you will make for your claim. Do research and ask around. Find someone that will listen to you and explain the procedures in an understandable way. Make sure they detail the costs upfront. Get someone that makes you feel comfortable from start to finish.
It also goes without saying that your lawyer ought to have a great record with personal injury. Be specific, though, and use your common sense. If your case is an auto accident, you won’t want a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice.
The process of filing a personal injury claim is a long one. The defense can use all sorts of tactics to draw out the case and prolong the trial. Even after the trial, an appellate court might reverse the ruling. Be prepared for around one to two years at least.
Last, Avvo reminds anyone filing a claim not to exceed the statute of limitations. In general, personal injury claimants “have two years to file a lawsuit.” If you’re “a minor when injured, then you have until your 20th birthday”. Avvo goes on to say, “Always conduct an attorney on this issue.” This is especially true for medical malpractice cases. For those, the “time limitations are very complicated”.
Use Your Resources
Jonathan Rosenfeld is a personal injury attorney. He breaks down the five critical mistakes in this video. He has other helpful videos on his channel. His videos do a great job at explaining with clarity and brevity.
For books on the subject, you could spend years in a library (or law school) reading them all. I recommend this one in particular. Library Journal calls it “an essential purchase.” That’s very high praise. Get a copy of the book today and learn what to do, and not to do, to maximize your personal injury settlement.