When filing a personal injury claim in Iowa, you are likely wondering how much your case is worth and how quickly the at-fault party’s insurance will resolve it. However, if you have long-lasting or permanent injuries, the claims process can take significantly longer. The insurance company may more aggressively try to undervalue your claim. Even a seemingly small residual disability can increase your claim value. If you or someone you love suffered long-term permanent injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you need a skilled Cedar Rapids injury lawyer on your side.
Cases involving permanent injuries are typically more complicated to resolve. The at-fault party’s insurance company has greater exposure. Their priority is to reduce their insured’s liability and reduce the amount of money the insurance company has to pay. Working with a skilled law firm, such as 303 Legal, can help protect your rights. We will fight the insurance company for the total value of your case. Here’s what you need to know about personal injury claims involving long-term permanent injuries.
What Is a Long-Term Permanent Injury Claim?
If you have an injury that requires ongoing medical treatment or causes pain and suffering for an extended period, it’s considered a long-term injury. Injuries involving your joints and back are some of the more common types of long-term injuries. Long-term injuries can also include emotional and mental injuries, such as PTSD or anxiety.
Permanent injuries can include scarring, disfigurement, or dismemberment. Brain injuries, nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, amputation, and burns are some common permanent injury claims.
What Is Maximum Medical Improvement, and How Does It Affect My Claim?
Properly documenting a long-term permanent injury is crucial as it directly relates to your case value. However, you may not realize right away you are facing a long-term injury. Sometimes an injury progresses and symptoms worsen as time goes on.
That’s why it’s important to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before you settle your claim. MMI means that you have either recovered from your injury or your condition has stabilized to the point that your doctor believes it is unlikely to improve.
If the defendant’s insurance company realizes you potentially have a long-term permanent injury, they may want to resolve your claim early on. Don’t give in to the temptation to settle to get some money now. You should not accept a settlement or sign a release of claims without first speaking with a legal practitioner. If you agree to settle before you have fully healed or know the extent of your long-term injuries, you cannot return to the insurance company later for additional compensation. That means if your doctor recommends future surgery a week after you settle, the insurance company will not pay for it.
How to Prove Long-Term Permanent Injuries
When your medical provider declares you’ve reached MMI, but you still have residual pain or are not fully healed, then you likely have a long-term permanent injury. Your doctor can assign you a permanent impairment rating, which could be either partially or permanently disabled. Your lawyer may need to retain experts who will testify about what effects your disability has on your life, such as your ability to earn a living or conduct regular activities of daily life. Experts can play a crucial role in proving the long-lasting effects of your injuries if your case goes to trial.
Document your symptoms and complaints in a pain journal throughout the claims process. This journal can be helpful if your case goes to trial and you need to recount some details of how your injuries affect your life. Consider asking your medical provider to document in your file that your injuries are possibly long-term or permanent.
Proving Liability with Long-Term Permanent Injuries
Iowa is a tort state, which means you have the legal right to pursue a claim against the at-fault parties who caused your injuries. It’s also a modified comparative negligence state. That means that even if you have a small percentage of fault, you can still collect a portion of your damages. You can be up to 50% at fault and receive half your damages. If your fault exceeds 50%, you will be barred from recovery. Insurance companies will look for any way to increase your liability percentage, especially if they can find a way to place the majority of fault on you.
Your percentage of liability would reduce the damages you would be entitled to collect. For example, if you are 20% at fault, you could collect 80% of your damages. If you are 60% at fault, you will collect nothing, since your fault is over 50%.
Insurance companies have more incentive to place a greater liability percentage on you in cases involving permanent injuries. The reason is that their potential payout is significantly more than for a minor soft tissue injury case. Without an experienced Cedar Rapids injury attorney on your side, you risk not getting the total amount of financial compensation you are entitled to receive.
Potential Types of Compensation
The type and amount of damages you are entitled to will vary based on the severity of your injuries and liability. In general, you might be able to recover the following types of compensation in an Iowa personal injury case:
- Medical expenses to date,
- Future medical expenses,
- Lost wages to date,
- Future loss of earning capacity,
- Physical pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress stemming from your physical injuries,
- Loss of consortium for family members,
- Disability or disfigurement, and
- Any other costs you’ve incurred because of the incident.
In limited situations, you might receive punitive damages. Courts sometimes award these damages in cases where you can prove the defendant’s actions constituted a willful and wanton disregard for your safety or rights. Punitive damages punish the wrongdoer and discourage them from engaging in similar conduct again.
Contact a Cedar Rapids Injury Lawyer
Don’t risk your potential settlement by trying to manage your claim independently. At 303 Legal, P.C., we are committed to helping clients like you. We will never treat you like another case file in our system. We offer personalized attention and will be there for you every step of the way throughout the claims process. We have the skills and resources to take your case to trial if the defendant’s insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith.
The experience and negotiating skills of your attorney impact the amount of compensation you could receive. Attorney Jonathan Schmidt has recovered compensation for many satisfied clients to date. To learn more about how 303 Legal, P.C., can assist you with a long-term permanent injury case, contact our office today to schedule a meeting. We offer a free initial consultation, so you have nothing to lose by meeting with us. Let us protect your rights and help you fight for the maximum compensation possible in your Iowa personal injury case.