When attempting to put a dollar amount on a personal injury claim, you must take several factors into account. The compensation for a claim must cover the injured party’s initial medical costs, on-going care, damaged property and loss of income. Courts often award compensation for damages that are more difficult to assign a monetary value, such as pain and suffering, loss of social and educational experiences, emotional distress and strains on the family. To win your personal injury claim, whether you’re dealing with an insurance company or an individual, you’ll first need to determine if you can proceed on your own or if you’ll need to hire an attorney.
Method 1. Settle Your Personal Injury Claim without a Lawyer
1. Research the insurance company’s claims process.
Most personal injury claims result from car accidents. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, the respective insurance company likely has a protocol it follows when handling personal injury claims. Familiarize yourself with the process so you’ll be an informed, active participant when it comes time to settle the claim. Insurance claims adjusters typically don’t have a legal background, so feel free to ask questions about the company’s process and expect answers free of confusing legalese.
Personal injury claims resulting from home accidents can often be resolved without hiring a lawyer. When filing the claim, request information on the insurance company’s claims process so you know what to expect.
2. Exercise patience when dealing with claims adjusters.
It may take the adjuster a bit of time to review all of the information regarding the accident and to receive medical reports. Stay in contact with polite letters and phone calls.
3Negotiate for an amount you think is fair, but realize claims adjusters usually have a small amount of flexibility when offering settlement amounts.
If you cannot come to an agreement, you’ll need to hire a personal injury lawyer. Your final compensation may end up being less than the original offer after paying legal fees, so be sure that the offered settlement amount truly will not cover your damages.
Method 2. Find a Personal Injury Lawyer
1. Ask friends and acquaintances if they can recommend an attorney.
Personal references are often the best way to find a good lawyer.
2. Meet with various lawyers for an initial consultation.
Most lawyers offer a free consultation. This is your opportunity to ask questions to determine if this is the right lawyer for you. Think of this meeting as a job interview. You are hiring the lawyer to perform a service, so you’ll need to be confident in the lawyer’s abilities.
3. Compare the various lawyer’s fees and experience.
Your lawyer’s job is to win your personal injury claim, but it’s your job to make sure you’ll receive adequate compensation after paying your attorney’s fees. Before hiring an attorney, make sure the firm has previously handled similar cases. The ideal lawyer will be one who offers competitive fees and has a track record of winning cases like yours.
Method 3. Go to Trial or Settle the Claim
1. Determine if you can settle the claim outside of court.
The majority of personal injury claims never go before a judge. If the insurance company or individual offers an acceptable settlement, it’s typically in your best interest to accept it rather than going to court, particularly if you’re paying attorney fees.
2. Go to trial if you cannot reach a settlement.
If the two parties cannot reach an acceptable settlement, a judge or jury will decide how much the injured party should be compensated. Be aware that this amount may be lower than the settlement that was offered.
3. Absolve the guilty party.
If you accept a settlement, you’ll be required to sign documentation releasing the guilty party from any further responsibility. Know what you’re signing. Once you absolve the insurance company or individual, you cannot receive any more money, even if you later have complications resulting from the accident.