Everyone wants the biggest settlement possible for their personal injury case. But what can you do to help make that actually happen? It’s more than just crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. It’s even more than hiring a great personal injury attorney to manage your claim. If you want to fight for maximized compensation in your personal injury case, then you should remember and follow these tips, which have been provided by the experienced personal injury attorneys of The Gatti Law Firm, located in Eugene, Oregon.
1. See a Doctor
No matter how fine you feel after being in an accident, you need to go to the doctor as soon as possible. Cancel your day’s plans and head to urgent care, assuming you were not already taken to the hospital in an ambulance. A doctor needs to see and evaluate your injuries shortly after they occur.
Two major benefits of seeing a doctor the same day as your accident:
- Health: Most importantly, seeing a medical professional after an accident can uncover injuries you don’t notice at first, like nerve damage or fractures that you have passed off as soreness. To preserve your health as best you can, see a doctor immediately after an accident. It is that simple.
- Evidence: It is also important to realize that a medical record and check-up dated on the same day as your accident creates powerful, tangible evidence of the accident and the injuries it caused. Without this same-day record, insurance companies will have an easier time arguing that your injuries were not caused by the accident in question. Don’t do them any favors. Go see a doctor if you haven’t already.
2. Get Legal Help Quickly
Evidence of an accident can “disappear” quicker than you might think. Opposing and liable parties might “accidentally” misplace important pieces of evidence like dashcam footage of a car accident, for example. To preserve evidence and stand in between dishonest tampering, you need to get legal help quickly.
You should plan on hiring an attorney within the same week of your accident at the latest. The sooner you hire a personal injury lawyer, the sooner they can get to work on investigating and preserving evidence. Your attorney can notify all other involved parties that they must preserve any evidence they might have or else risk legal consequences within the case. Judges and juries will usually not appreciate a defendant who “loses” evidence after being instructed by an attorney to take special care of it.
3. Beware Early Settlement Offers
The vast majority of personal injury claims do not go through litigation to reach a conclusion. Instead, they are resolved through settlement offers reached via mediation and negotiations. With this in mind, you shouldn’t jump at every chance to get a settlement. In fact, you should just assume that the first settlement offer is going to be a bad one.
Insurance companies often like to throw undervalued settlement offers at a claimant a few weeks after their accident when the claimant is starting to get restless and a little desperate for financial compensation. Don’t take the bait. Any settlement that comes your way should be immediately forwarded to your attorney, who can review it to see if it is even within the ballpark of fairness.
4. Consider Your Future
Most early settlement offers aren’t good because they do not and cannot calculate all of your future damages accurately. The injuries you have suffered in an accident that was not your fault might be painful and problematic now, but the truth is that they will probably be for years to come. If you want a fair and maximized settlement offer, then you need to consider your future damages to the fullest.
Future damages can include:
- Months or years of rehabilitative therapies
- Future surgeries and prescription medicines
- Wages lost due to reduced income capacity
- Chronic pain and incurable disabilities
5. Make All Rejections Clear
When you and your personal injury attorney decide that a settlement offer just isn’t good enough consider what you have suffered and paid already, you will want to be as clear as possible with your rejection. It is not useful to simply say no to an insurance company. You should say no and why you reached that decision.
For example, you can say that you are rejecting the company’s offer because it has failed to factor in the future costs of renovating your home and adding a wheelchair access ramp after you were left partially paralyzed in a truck accident. Or you can say no because you know that your noneconomic damages or pain and suffering damages are worth far more than what they have said.
6. Stay Off Social Media
Never underestimate what an insurance company will do to save money, which happens if they beat your claim. One tactic that insurers often use is to dig through the claimant’s social media accounts for any posts, photos, videos, or tags that could counteract their claims.
Imagine that you are suffering from a serious back injury after a rear-end accident. You have stayed in bed for months to rest, but it still really hurts. Half a year later, you finally agree to go to dinner with your family because it is your mom’s birthday. The whole time at the restaurant, you are in serious pain but do your best not to complain. Your brother tags you in a photo at the restaurant, and that is all it could take to seriously damage your case. The insurance company can save that post and use it to argue that you must be faking your back injury since you seem to be healthy enough to go to dinner and have fun.
The best way to keep yourself out of social media posts that could hurt your claim is to simply stop using social media altogether until your case is finalized.
7. Put on a Clean Face
As strange as it might sound, appearances really do make a big difference when trying to maximize a personal injury claim value or settlement. People subconsciously judge a claimant based on their appearance, just as we all do in day-to-day life. If you don’t make a good impression on the judge, jury members, or insurance adjuster, then you could be inadvertently hurting your own chances.
Talk to your attorney about how to dress appropriately for legal meetings without exacerbating your injuries. They can also discuss ways to remain respectful and polite during all proceedings because your personality is doubly as important as your physical appearance.
Need Help Maximizing Your Claim’s Value?
If you live in Eugene and need legal help to figure out your claim or to accept a good settlement after an accident, then you can count on The Gatti Firm for reliable counsel. We have successfully recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients throughout the years. We’d like to see if we can deliver the same outstanding legal services to your case as well.
Call us at (503) 543-1114 or fill out an online contact form to learn more.