Anyone who gets through their lives without sustaining a personal injury can consider themselves lucky. Even those who do not get injured may know someone who has, and the pain they must feel is immeasurable. The unfortunate truth is that personal injuries happen more often than we would like to admit, and even if we are careful, it is possible to be involved in an accident that leads to personal injury. When this happens, you need to do everything you can to protect yourself and recover as quickly as possible
Whether the injury was caused by another’s negligence or something else entirely, you can’t afford to sit around once medical treatment has been rendered. There are some important steps you need to take if you want the best chance of getting the settlement you deserve.
Contact An Attorney Who Specializes In Personal Injury
You should never enter into the courtroom without a personal injury attorney at your side. An experienced Sacramento personal injury mediation lawyer can help you with your case and understand your rights, options and make sure you are not taken advantage of by the opposing side. Before meeting with any personal injury attorney, make sure you are aware of all the facts surrounding your accident. This way, your lawyer will know what to do and how best to move forward. You must know any medical treatment or bills resulting from your car accident or other incident involving liability for an injury. However, this is not the only important thing to keep in mind when it comes time to communicate with a personal injury attorney.
You need to make sure you are ready to work together as a team, and that you will both be able to handle the long haul. Attorneys usually bill for their services on an hourly basis, so you must be both aware of your financial obligation. You will want to make sure that you are not pressured into paying more than you can afford or accepting a settlement for less money than is appropriate without getting the attorney’s opinion first. If you come up with a number on your own and then run it by an attorney, he or she may tell you that it’s too low or too high. Just remember that you are all on the same side, and are both working toward the same goal of getting your case resolved promptly.
Discuss With An Insurance Adjuster
The second thing to do is talk to an insurance adjuster who has been assigned to your injury case. This should happen as soon as possible, but no more than 48 hours after the accident. If you delay this, you may not be able to settle at all. If your injuries are serious enough that you cannot speak to the insurance adjuster immediately, make sure somebody else has contact information for the insurance company including a phone number and name of somebody who can negotiate on your behalf. If the other party is at fault, he or she should be contacting you about setting up a time to speak with an adjuster. Avoid making ad hoc agreements with the insurance company for money to take care of the immediate costs associated with the accident, like medical bills or car repairs. Although this can seem like a quick fix, it is a bad idea for several reasons.
The first problem with this is that the value of payment for a specific need cannot be determined at that moment. The second issue is that the insurance company may refuse to pay later under the argument that you have been compensated enough.
When considering how much money you should ask for in settlement negotiations, it can be helpful to get an estimate from a medical professional who is familiar with the impact of your injuries on your life. For example, if you were rear-ended and suffered back injuries that affect your ability to continue working, you should ask for money to cover lost wages. If you were struck by a distracted driver who was using his or her cell phone while at the wheel, you would want compensation for pain and suffering that goes beyond just physical injuries. The final decision on settlement negotiations, however, always belongs to you. This is because in most situations insurance companies will try to pay out as little money as possible, while you were the one who was injured. If this happens, it is important not to give in too quickly because this could result in inadequate compensation.
Negotiate In Good Faith
Regardless of how much you need the money, it is important to negotiate in good faith. In general, this means that even if you want more money than the insurance company has offered, you should not ask for an exorbitant amount. This could result in a decision from the insurance company to stop negotiations and leave you without compensation for your injuries.
The amount of compensation you ask for should reflect what is needed to cover current and future medical costs, lost wages, pain, and suffering, property loss, or anything else that has resulted from the accident. If you are still in the hospital when negotiations begin with the insurance company, have a family member request an update on how much they are offering in a settlement. The starting point for this conversation should be no more than the total amount of your medical bills and expected future medical expenses.
Negotiate In Writing
If you live a long distance from the person with whom you are negotiating, it may be helpful to write down what is said. This can help ensure that there will not be any confusion or questions about what has been agreed upon once everything is settled. As soon as possible after negotiations begin, sign and date the document and ask for a written copy. This can be especially useful if you have suffered serious injuries and cannot remember what was said immediately after the accident.
Things to consider throughout all of this are your health, happiness, and well-being. Do not settle for an amount that makes you feel guilty or upset. When in doubt, get a second opinion from somebody who specializes in personal injury cases. By following these tips when negotiating with the insurance company, it is possible to receive fair compensation for the injuries you have suffered.