If you suffered serious injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you likely want to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. However, it’s essential to take the proper steps to ensure you are maximizing your potential settlement. Here are several tips for getting the most compensation in your injury case.
Retain a Skilled Cedar Rapids Injury Lawyer
Hiring the right attorney for your case is one of the most important steps you can take following a personal injury accident. There is a direct link between the skill of your attorney and maximizing compensation in a personal injury claim. Personal injury law is a broad practice area. If you sustained injuries due to a defective product, don’t hire a personal injury firm that lacks experience and only specializes in car accidents. You wouldn’t hire a divorce lawyer to represent you in a criminal matter, would you?
Make sure you are retaining an attorney who has handled similar cases and has the necessary courtroom experience. Ask about their prior trial experience and whether they have the resources to take your case to trial. Some firms may not have the financial resources or workforce to take a complicated claim to trial. That means they may refer your case to another firm if you need to file a lawsuit. It’s better to work with the right attorney from the start rather than waiting for another lawyer to become familiar with your case a year into negotiations.
Contact the Police or Report the Accident
Contacting the proper authorities following a personal injury is also important. You want an official record of the accident or incident. If it’s a car accident, contact the police. If you slipped and fell in the grocery store because of a hazardous condition, be sure to report it to store management.
Depending on the type of claim and who the defendant is, you could have strict claim deadlines. For example, a claim against the government may have a six-month cut-off or less. If you wait to report, you could be jeopardizing your potential settlement.
Document Everything Thoroughly
Depending on the type of personal injury claim you are presenting, documenting the accident scene is crucial. If you were involved in a car accident, you want to get scene photos of the vehicle damage and what the conditions were like at the time. Perhaps it was raining, there was a stop sign partially obstructed, etc. If you slip and fall in a store, get photos of the hazard and the surrounding area. If you tripped over damaged flooring, the store might correct the problem before you can hire an attorney to document the scene. Those initial scene photos can be valuable pieces of evidence.
As your claim progresses, consider starting a pain journal. Keep track of how your injuries impact your daily life, what time you miss from work, the challenges you face, etc. Don’t assume everything will be fresh in your mind. What if your case is pending for several years or goes into litigation? Having that information handy if you need to prepare for a deposition or trial testimony is crucial. You can’t expect a jury to award you more money if you don’t adequately convey how badly the accident affected your life.
Seek Medical Treatment Timely
If you are not transported to the hospital from the accident scene, seeking medical treatment right away is crucial. The other party’s insurance company is looking for any way to reduce their potential exposure. Please don’t allow them to devalue your case because you didn’t see a doctor early on. Even if your injuries are minor, visit a doctor as soon as possible. You may have internal injuries that are not immediately apparent. If you wait weeks to see a doctor, the insurance company may argue that your injuries were not as severe as you claim or something else happened that caused your injuries.
Stay off Social Media
Many people take to social media to share details of their life, which includes personal injury accidents. Resist the temptation to start posting about your claim on social media. You might argue that you are home and unable to work due to your injuries, but you are posting photos of completing a landscaping project in your yard.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, the defendant’s insurance company may be combing through your social media looking for something to discredit you. Even if you are posting photos from before the accident, the insurance adjuster could still try to use them against you. They may instruct their lawyer to show them during the trial, leaving you to argue they were pre-accident. Even if the photos aren’t post-accident, some jury members may keep them on their minds.
Don’t Sign a Release of All Claims Without Talking with a Lawyer
Before you agree to a settlement or sign a release of all claims, speak with an experienced attorney first. Insurance companies may try to settle serious injury claims early on in the claims process to limit their exposure. If you sign a release, it means you cannot come back to the other driver’s insurance if you find out you need another surgery or other treatment.
You may be inclined to resolve your claim to have a little money now to cover bills, but it could hurt you in the long run. Insurance companies know what types of cases could result in future medical treatment and long-term pain and suffering. By settling early, they can close their file and not be on the hook for your long-term care. When you have 303 Legal, P.C. representing you, we won’t let the insurance company take advantage of your inexperience with the claims system.
Remain Professional When Dealing with the Insurance Companies
Understandably you are upset and frustrated, but try to keep your cool when speaking with the at-fault party’s insurance. While your demeanor shouldn’t change the value of your claim, insurance adjusters are more likely to be willing to engage in negotiations with someone professional and pleasant rather than someone who is freaking out over the phone. If the adjuster thinks you are prone to outbursts, they may be willing to take a risk that you’ll file a lawsuit. If you cannot curb your anger and attitude, their hope is you will not present well at trial in front of a jury where it counts.
Contact a Cedar Rapids Injury Lawyer
If you suffered injuries in a personal injury accident, don’t risk your potential settlement by trying to handle your claim independently. Let the experienced team at 303 Legal, P.C. help. We have years of experience with all types of personal injury cases. We understand the nuances of dealing with insurance companies and their tactics to undervalue your claim. When you retain our firm, we will fight for the maximum compensation possible. Contact our office to schedule an initial consultation. Let us review your case and discuss the amount of compensation you could be entitled to receive.